Friday, November 29, 2013

Delhi to Chennai: 2nd AC and my earthly burdens

At the end of 2011, after 1.5 yrs of stay in Delhi, I moved to Chennai. I realized how much I'm tied to this earthly life.

This is gonna b a long rambling so beware. To understand this rambling, you need to know Tamil and little bit Hindi.

I had to take some heavy luggages with me. A heavy big long trolley and a laptop bag is what I planned. Some books, table fan, ceiling fan, LCD monitor and such stuff had to go inside the trolley. By the time I managed to close half heartedly because it didn't hv place for my Harry Potter books, for the 7yr long standing Philips iron box & one heavy wad of fresh bond paper, i was drenched in sweat in the freezing delhi weather. they had to b abandoned. 

i started cursing myself. why do i hv so much dependencies? can't i be simple and light?

By the time I brought the trolley two floors down, with my bulging laptop bag on the back, I could feel my insides churning. Had to haul the trolley for 5mins in a dirty narrow street with rubble, iron pipes, and descending a slope with my trolley chasing behind me, I caught the eye of a passing auto driver, who stopped. 

I announced "new delhi railway station", for which he agreed enthusiastically. 

"thoda help" i said. 

he helped to haul the monster inside. 

he asked "kithna". very strange.... 

I said "bhaiya dhus kilometernaa, meter nahi hein?"

"nahi bhaiya" he said. "pandhra(15) kilometers" he said. 

"haan haan, bolo kithna" i asked. 

"heavy luggage na, 150, nahi 140 dedho", he said. 

idhukkaa ivlo pechu. "teek hai" i said. 

Happily rode the auto for some time and realized that i couldn't lift both of my hands. They were like let us hang down a bit. That bloody trolley hauling.... 

Driver started talking. I didn't understand a bit this time, he was looking at me in the mirror, I turned here and there, but still he was looking. Huh, wht the heck, 

"kiya bhaiya" i asked. 

he said again and this time i caught the word 'time'. oh he is asking the time. i looked at the watch, 7.15. i know 7 and 15 in hindi. but how to say ezhegaaal (7quarters)? frustrated, I said "7.15" in English. He said ok. Now I got little bolder. 

I again said "saath(che illa adhu aaaru, thoughts running in me) pandhraaa(15)". He said "teek hai" again politely. 

In between I saw lot of airport sign boards. Suddenly doubt. Is he going to railway station or airport?! To make sure, I cleverly presented my information in a question. 

"bhaiya new-delhi-railway-station-mein-kithnaa-time-ogaiyaa(little stress on the station name)?"

ogaiyaavaa aagaiyaavaaa onnum velangaliye paannu nenchikitten. 

He said "aat baje". "ok ok". I was relieved. 

"Gaadi kithnaa baje..." something he asked. I thought abt how to say 10.30, then just said "dhus". He said ok. adadaaa 'baje'va uttutome, 'pathu mani - dhus baje' miss pannitome..... 

Now he stopped at petrol pump and waited in the queue. A couple, in the front auto came out and waited close-by. Then my auto-wala pointed near the pump and said something. Blank again.

"kiya bhaiya" I said. He explained again. blank. to be helpful, I said "nikkaal jaayenge?". He said something and pointed ahead. This time I got it. He wants me to exit the auto there not here. I got out near the pump dispenser. He was out and looked at the back seat where my trolley half on seat the rest on front bar behind the driver. he pointed out a scratch on the seat under the trolley. 

I wanted to say "adhu theru sagadhila pidicha serunnu. mudiyumaa?" After a thought I said "ye paani bhaiya..." and I moved away... He was again complaining and again and again examining.... 

I went and said "ye paaani wala bhaiyaa paaani wala" pointing at the trolley wheel. And came away.... 

Finally he left the matter and moved the auto to fill up. On the way again airport sign boards showed... Still nervous abt whether he is going to airport or railway station... Then some metro station names showed up which I knew on the way to the station.

He stopped at a back entrance to avoid traffic, but still entrance is close-by. With his help I pulled the trolley down. Paid Rs. 150 and waved at him.

Kicked the trolley in its hip to tilt and drag; couldn't tilt it directly that's why.  Shortly after, a porter came to company... he offered to help... 

I smiled and said, "mein platform number dhek rahungaa, board mein..." 

He askd which platform... I said, "pathaa nahi bhaiyaa, pehli mein board mey dhek karna chaiye(actual word chahiye)..."

Wwhich train he asked... Tamil Nadu express I said... He said platform no.3

I was still unsure... walked a bit and beckoned him to take the trolley (all this while a heavy load was piggybacking me). He weighed it with hand and said  "dho sow rupee(200)". 

I smiled and said "kiya bhaiya, gaadi charge hein. mera auto charge 140 rupees, pandhra kilometer ki. ek sow teek hai naaa... aur pachaas(50) rupee dhedhen...." 

He said something like "that is auto, this is my body sir." He went silent... Then said, "teek hai 150 dedho saab....".  I was like ok anga poi pesippoam... So I put the monster on his head... followed.... he went and stopped in front of the display board... my train was not listed yet. 

He said platform theen.. 

I said "idhar wait karo.." There was a guy standing nearby... He said Tamil Nadu express is not listed. I switched to Tamil, "innum poadaliyaaa, neengalum andha trainaaa?" he was surprised. "ungalukku tamil theriyumaaa...." I was like, "vera...?" Now our porter protested to wait any longer... He asked few of his fellows nearby... They all said platform 3. I protested.... "bhaiya, board mein mera train aatha nahi, idhar wait karo... train number aaathaa nahi naa...". This Tamil fellow (our state brother), "ungalukku hindi theriyumaa(very surprisedly)?", I was thinking "aaathaa'voda sari adhukku mela varaaadhu" and said "ada idhu hindiye illeenga...." 

Porter said tata and went ahead with my luggage.. I ran after him... he descended in platform 3, I followed... he went to the far end, open platform (i already told him my coach was A1.) so he approximately chose a place and unloaded... I paid him 150 since he said he works with his body... after paying when the onlookers clearly saw 150 being handed over I felt so stupid.... after several mokkais on the phone, I looked around (now sitting on my monster). one Tamil paiyan... first I asked in english abt which train he is waiting for. He said TN express. I switched to Tamil and rambled abt his business in delhi sondha ooor, education, surprisingly he knows Hindi. 

He got a call. He answered in Hindi and went elaborately fluent in Hindi... 'kacha mucha, mera poora, aacha poachaaa appuram lug thaathaa'nu mudichaan paaaru... adangappaaa, namakku aaathaaa mattum dhaaan varudhu.... ivanukku lug thaaathaaa verikkum varudhe....!?'

Oru vazhiyaa train just 15 minutesukku munnnaaadi vara, already annan tanku fullu... bag mudgugula yera, trolley'ya odhaichi oru izhu... A1 stopped in front of me... let the crowd crawl in and I followed... narrow entrance... backpack interfering everywhere... had to spill my guts to lift my trolley over those two small steps in the train... now AC car glass door. so narrow.... went backwards to let my backpack then went forward to cling on the trolley handle and dragged sideways(no wheel rolling). first seat is mine... ha... there was a Tamil elderly maami conversing in Tamil with her aaathukaar... ayyar thaathaaa having a cross conversation in impeccable Hindi with a co-passenger. asked maami to move... pushed in my trolley under the seat, it got stuck halfway, more people getting on board were being clogged by me. So, I left the trolley as it is and moved inside where thaatha is hindying... 

People now getting in & kicking my trolley in the process. thaatha hindyed me abt my seat. I tamiled him and said 46. he hindied again abt my trolley being in the walkway, I tamilled him that once traffic is over I will push it inside. He hindied me that it will not go... I tamilled him that I will make it u just see. I offered maami to take my lower seat and I can go up. she said, the lower seat is hers so no problem. I was own finished, and said oh ok ok. sari sari. appa irungo...

Unloaded the tank and came back... was trying to climb up. now thaatha hindied me 'aaapkaa seat oooper mein'? I said, enakku hindiyellaam varaaadhu, en seatu 46 mela. thats it. Finally he tamiled me, "oh chari chari". 

Dinner came @ 140 rupees, I said "no". I had no water and didn't drink water for the last 4 hrs thinking that I can't leave my luggage to go to loo. Both I and thaaatha asked for paaani. Tea came, snacks came, veg biriyaani came(took one), but had to wait for water. In late night trains I had the experience of asking for water and it wud never come. Everything else came by. TTR went by. 11.15pm already. I didnt want to starve. A milk service came. Took 3 cups (Rs.30) and filled my flask. "moonu paaalu namakku... oooooo......". Took the veg biriyaani. drank some milk, it was made from milk powder. suddenly came water.... cursing I took one... no plug point in my seat... so no movie watching... took my mobile... typed all the above with my stylus... my hands were numb again...

Finally when I came out on the Chennai railway station platform, I could roll my trolley and approached the exit. Phoned my brother to pick me up. Sat at a chair at the entrance of the station looking out for my brother. One Hindi fellow (youth in his teens) (probably working in Chennai) came from outside and took a seat next to me. He had some small dirty pack looked like some tools wrapped in 'koni' or 'saakku pai'. He put it down. His phone rang. He took it and conversed in utterly amazingly fluent Tamil that I was wondering he might be some kind of cross between a north indian & south indian. I was so ashamed for not knowing Hindi. He finished the conversation on the phone. Sat for some time. Then, he turned to me and said 'bhai... ek minute ki.... [please look after my parcel for a minute - in hindi]'. I was like "wow... not only iyar thaathaa, but he also thinks I'm northy". I said okay okay. Then he left. And a fear came to me suggesting that, that gaudy looking parcel might be a bomb and a call he took a while back might be from the bombing master mind. I moved away little bit and watched the parcel.

Then he came back. My brother came. I went home. Then I realized that, Chennai is no longer a Tamil dominated city. Hindi is generally being used everywhere. In 2007, you can't see Hindi speaking people anywhere much in Chennai except for some posh areas. But today, you can't order your breakfast in Tamil in Chennai restaurants. You have to talk in Hindi.

Finally I reached my brother's house in Chengalpattu. Next day I went to a close-by fancy store to buy some items. When I approached the counter, that guy started like "Ah bhaiya, kiya chahiye.... bla bla..."

அடங்கப்பா, ஹிந்தி என்ன உடாது போல....!! முதல்ல நான் பெரிய மீசை (முடியுமா...!) வெக்கினும்... அப்ப தான் எல்லாரும் என்ன ஒரு தமிழன்னு ஒத்துக்குவாங்க போல...?! 

-The End