Sunday, February 19, 2012

The road to Vivek Express (When what becomes who)

Human beings have a tendency of being affectionate towards things. This affection and intimacy can be categorized into three levels. The first level, while going for a tea, people use to go to same tea shop. If they take tea in some other shop, they find it a different experience. One would not feel he/she had a tea. It is not because of the tea, it is because of the personal intimacy with the environment of the tea shop he/she used to go. The second level, interest of Facebook among youth and interest of jewellery among women are some examples which come under this level.  There is an intermediate level between second and third. Many people are now having virtual friendship with Facebook. Facebook seems like a better friend than 422 people in the friends list. The third and final level. This is the level in which people find it difficult to differentiate between who and what. Who becomes what for them. Parasuram is a guy who is one in this category. When someone asked him who do you like the most. His reply was train!!!

Parasuram, age 32,  is an assistant manager in State Bank of Travancore, Palakkad. His intimacy for train started right back in school days when he used to go to Trivandrum and Vellore for vacation. For the first two visits, he travelled for visiting the relatives. Then it is only for train. As the days went by, the bonding for train increased exponentially. He was happy for having a train's name as his name. Parasuram Express is a train between Trivandrum and Mangalore.

Whenever he travelled in train, he felt some good inner feeling. When he stood near the door of the moving train, strong air embraced  his face. He felt like his died mother Tripurasundari giving a kiss to his chin. The "Thadak  thadak" sound of the train is like a classical raga for him. However he felt bad for missing the steam engine and the smoke that he used to experience in his school times. He promised himself and the train that he would travel in train daily after getting a job.

After completing his B.Com., he got a job as Clerk in State Bank of Travancore. He was posted in Erode branch. To experience the train journey daily, he planned to rent a house in Salem, 70 minutes train journey from Erode. Parasuram is a Kerala Brahmin. So he knows Tamil. Most Kerala Brahmins have Tamil as mother tongue. It is a common saying that Kerala Brahmins will speak Tamil when they see Malayali and Malayalam when they see Tamils. He liked the train travel very much. There is an overbridge of Kaveri river 5 km from Erode. Whenever the train goes in the overbridge, he had a fantastic experience. That experience is better than the coitus he had few months back. He got a prefix to his name "Train" among his colleagues. He is called as Train Parasu among his folks. He started to explore different trains in the weekends. The Konkan express for the experience of scenic beauty and tunnels became his favourite and he travelled in it during long leaves. During weekends, he went to rail curves or different stations and used to take photograph of trains. He simply sat in different stations and saw the trains that pass by. His favourite spots are the legendary Rameshwaram bridge built across sea and rail routes near Nagercoil windmills, the whole Konkan route.

He came to know that there is an association called train fans association, in which the members used to go tours every month. He liked the zeal of everyone over there. He joined the association and enjoyed his time with like minded people. He explored every corner of India by train. 

He turned 29 and Train Parasu is now a Senior Accountant in the bank. He was transferred to Palakkad branch. His father Kameswaran is not a hindrance for his train journeys. Kameswaran had a passion of cooking .He did not like his father stopping him cooking garlic as some of the Brahmins still feel garlic and onion as non vegetarian and do not eat them. Kameswaran did not want to be a hindrance for his son's interests. He just wanted to get him married. He found a suitable girl and said about this to Parasu. Kameswaran said the name Kaveri. Kaveri is the name of the station near the Kaveri bridge he used to travel. Parasu felt happy with the name and said okay. He got married and in 11 months he was blessed with a baby girl. He named her Amrita (a train between Palakkad and Trivandrum). His daily train trips became weekly after the marriage. "Some compromises have to be done in life", advised his father.

He turned 32 and became assistant manager. Kaveri is conceived again. The newsreader on the television said, "Indian Railways announce a new train between Kanyakumari and Dibrugarh and it will be called as Vivek Express. It will travel a distance of 4287 km in 82:30 hours. It will be the longest train in India and 8th longest in the world. The train starts from Kanyakumari at Saturday and reaches Dibrugarh at Wednesday" Parasuram can't keep quiet after this news. He became happy as he got a decent name if he gets a baby boy and his hands already started shivering. Bookings are open already. Though the train stops at Palakkad, he booked a ticket from Kanyakumari to Dibrugarh for its first trip and return ticket in the same train. Being an intimate person to train and one who lived in it daily 3 years back, he felt not travelling in the first day will be a disgraceful act. To reach Kanyakumari from Palakkad inorder to catch the Vivek Express, he booked a ticket in a train from Coimbatore to Nagercoil since position of berths in trains from Palakkad to Kanyakumari were already in waiting list. Coimbatore is 40 km away from Palakkad and Nagercoil is 25 km away from Kanyakumari.  He didn't book for Kaveri as she is pregnant.

The day came. Friday. 25 Nov 2011. Thanks to the Mullaiperiyar agitations, trains and buses between Tamilnadu and Kerala are stopped for one day.  Parasuram is frustrated to the core. He can wait and start from Palakkad since the train stops here but that will be insane and fraudulent to his sweetheart. Whatever trouble comes in the way, he decided to go to Coimbatore. He went to Palakkad bus stand by 7:00 PM to see if there is any chance to reach Coimbatore. All buses that are scheduled to go to Coimbatore are taking rest. The glasses of Tamilnadu buses are even broken. A guy with trademark Kerala lungi was roaming and was saying "Coimbatore 500! Coimbatore 500!"  Parasuraman went to the man and asked what he was saying about. He said "A taxi will take you to Walayar and from there you have to cross the border. Tamilnadu registartion taxi will take you to Coimbatore from there. You will be provided with the contact number of Tamilnadu driver. You should call and get in that taxi. 500 Rupees." Parasuram took a five hundred rupee note and gave it to him. He asked to sit in the taxi. The taxi driver filled the seats and started towards Walayar by 7:26 PM. The taxi reached Walayar in 20 minutes. The taxi driver warned "Don't open your mouth while crossing the border. If the protesters find you are Malayali, anything can happen based upon their alcohol intake. There were four passengers and they started towards the border. Three escaped the protesters and they blocked Parasuram seeing his uneasy face reactions.  "Which is your place?" asked a protestor in Tamil. "I am from Palakkad. But I'm Tamilian",  replied  Parasuram. "Hey moron! Don't lie you son of a bitch" replied a protestor.  He replied "Is it my fault to born for a Kerala Tamilian? I was treated differently in my state. If  I consider this state as a place where people who speak my language lives, the treatment is even worse here. You called me son of a bitch" Parasuram went up in anger and said 
            "தீயினால் சுட்டபுண் உள்ளாறும் ஆறாதே  
             நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு"

(a Tamil poem which says "The wound caused by fire will heal, the scar caused by the words from tongue will not heal. Watch out your words. ") "Ya, I'm a Tamilian".  The chief protester stunned. He realized his mistake. He realized the troubles his group caused. "The leaders who speak lengthy Tamil paragraphs for even a hour are not practicing Thirukural (a Tamil book of poems considered world's holy book) and seducing us to harm fellow beings" said the chief protester to everyone. He called every protesters from there to leave away and not to create tension. The car went away already since it may create trouble to them. It was already 8:00 PM . 

Parasuram should reach the station by 8:30 PM. If he takes town bus, he will not reach the station by time. He asked the protester if he can take him to station. He replied, "I am drunk. Here are the keys. I'll come with you. Can you drive?" The Thadak thadak ringtone came out of his cellphone. He smiled for first time since one hour thinking about his upcoming coitus with the train. The Splendor+ reached the station at 8:25 PM. Seeing the station, he felt like seeing his mother Tripurasundari. The station which is crowded usually is having very few people. He cannot understand the reason. He went to enquiry and asked in which platform Nagercoil express come. The person replied, "Sir. All the trains will start from Coimbatore North station today due to renovation of tracks. It has been published in papers two days ago. By this time, Nagercoil express would have left the station." For the first time Parsuram is having a bitter experience with his sweetheart. He asked if some other train is there to Nagercoil. "The next train is only on tomorrow. ", replied the person in enquiry. He was totally upset and he cannot tolerate travelling in bus for more than 500 km. His sweetheart will feel for him. 

He went to bus stand. Getting a ticket to southern places during Fridays at last minute is literally impossible. Luckily he got a seat. Bus is scheduled to start at 10:00 PM. He confirmed with the bus driver "When will the bus reach Nagercoil?". He replied 8:30. The train is at 2:30 PM. He felt relaxed. He felt very sorry for going on bus. He will not be able to sleep as on train, he will not be able to walk here and there. He cannot go and stand near the door. The conductor will blast him if he does it. He cannot feel a different sound when it goes through a bridge. Bus will halt for tea and the tea will not come to you as in train. He felt like having coitus with Godzilla. The speed breakers disturbed him. The Butter Dosa he had in the roadside hotel already started the reaction. This moron don't have toilet as well. He missed his sweetheart a lot. They screened Sura in the bus television. It added fuel to the fire. He closed his eye, he felt about his upcoming five days long journey. One among the first set. India's longest route. The thinking of butter dosa's after effect, Sura's side effect, every thing went away. What he can hear is Thadak thadak sound. He remembered the first journey in his sweetheart with his mother, that turned up as his only journey with his mother. A drop of tear came out. The tiredness made him to sleep. 

Next day, the destination is reached. He reached Nagercoil. Kanyakumari is just 20 to 25 km away and he has 6 more hours to reach Kanyakumari. He asked a person to confirm whether he can reach Kanyakumari before 2:30 PM since he has his train. He replied, "The train will stop here at Nagercoil. Why should you go to Kanyakumari?" Parasuram answered "The train even stops at Palakkad. I came here from Palakkad. Answer to my question. I know all those stuff." The person replied "Kanyakumari is just 18 km from here. You will reach at 10 even if you go by cycle. You can reach not less than 12:30 even if you walk." Parasuram  became crazy and decided to go by cycle. He laughed with high decibel. He went to a cycle shop. There is a  practice in some towns where you can get cycles for rent per hour. The cycle shop has renting facility as well. Parasuram looks like a regular customer who comes to the shop for renting cycle. One worker from the shop said to Parsuram "Sir. Take 7 number cycle. Your regular cycle is repair." He asked " How much?".  The guy replied " Rs.20"(Rent per hour). He was stunned at the cheapest rate of cycle. He asked "Why this lower rate?" The worker replied "Are you kidding? It is the rate since the formation of new government." He said "What a nice government!". He took the cycle. He was so happy thinking that he bought the cycle for this cheaper rate 100 times lesser than his state's price. He praised the present Chief minister. He didn't know the rent scenario. He thought the rate of cycle is 20. The rate of rent doubled after the formation of new government to meet the ever raising rates.

Parasuram rode the cycle very fast. He even overtook the local town buses. Traffic police cannot stop him since it is a cycle. His mood is terrific. It is like meeting his dead mother again. He reached the station in less than a hour. He kept his cycle in a safe place and went inside the station .When he saw the train in the platform, he started crying. He can see his mother's face in the coach. He went closer and gave a kiss to the train. He had 2 hours more. The train is decorated like a bride. He took photographs of whatever he can in the station. Many politicians came for the inauguration of the train.  He felt sorry for leaving Kaveri. He would love to go with her. She is one among the few who respects his passion. He called Kaveri from mobile and said "Kaveri. I boarded the train. Miss you."  She replied "Its ok dear. Happy journey. Vivek is playing football. I'm enjoying it. Don't eat junk foods. Be careful while standing near doors. Don't argue with transgenders who come asking for money. Happy journey. Sorry! Happy experience." The train is set to go. The station worker pasted the chart. He saw his name in the list. He started to cry again. He took a snap of it. He went to the seat S3 25- LB. One of the devotees of Vivekananda waved the green flag. The experience, the love, the coitus whatever one can say started.