Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sweet Revenge against SERIOUSNESS

I love travelling by train. It's a wonderful experience. An engrossing book and a huge bag of chips and I'm all set for an overnight journey. I think the most interesting part of a train journey would be the kind of people one encounters. I've had my share of a symphony orchestra of snorers, pint sized terrors who run around despite warnings from their tired mums, over chatty men who get too comfortable and of course decent travellers some of whom I am still in touch with.
I used to travel quite a bit by rail ever since I started working in Chennai. A once in a month commute from Cochin to Chennai and back was almost a habit.  Now it was during one if these journeys that I encountered an individual, the likes of whom I can tell you without batting an eyelid, I have never come across afterward and hope I never ever will in my lifetime.
What was so bad about one little trip and one little old lady passenger you may wonder. Well the first point being she had a rather potent case of the "seriousness" virus. And point two, I was stuck in a moving train with no escape till the break of dawn.

I'm sure the lot of you may have met someone seriously whiney and complexed atleast once in your life. Now take all of those people, combine them together and presto you get my little old lady passenger.
Let me tell you my story.

So it all happened one evening. I picked up my usual stack of magazines, books, chips and snacks and boarded my compartment. There were just three other passengers besides myself. An old lady, a man who seemed to be her husband and a middle aged man who was already dozing off.
The lady was in mid sentence when I got into the compartment.  "...these trains never leave on time. I don't know what time we will reach Chennai. I promised Aishu we'd be there at 6:30 sharp..." Her husband was staring hard outside the window with a desperate expression on his face.
I had a huge bag with me and I tried to excuse myself so that I could place it under the old lady's seat. I think from then on my fate was sealed.
"Oh my god! What are you doing pushing that bag under my seat. Can't you see that I am sitting here? Girls nowadays have no manners!" (it's not like she was sitting under the seat and I did excuse myself! )
Her husband promptly jumped up and helped me push my bag in elsewhere. I noticed that his expression had changed from desperation to apologetic.

My seat was right opposite the ladys and unperturbed by her outburst I settled down with my mags and chips and started reading. To my utter alarm she started commenting loudly about my magazine.  "You would think girls nowadays would read some intellectual stuff. Just look at the cover! A skinny model in skimpy clothes and look look! 40 secrets to improve your bedroom relations!!" I looked up in shock. Oblivious to my glare she continued to her aghast husband "my Aishu would never read trash like this. She reads only good books. All study books and some approved novels.  Girls nowadays!  Tch tch!"

I opened my mouth to retort when I saw her husband give me an imploring look. For some reason I kept quiet. Little did I know that this was just the calm before the storm!
To occupy myself I tore into my bag of chips and started downing them. The lady wouldn't let that pass either. In a rather unnecessarily loud voice she whined about how girls nowadays didn't care about what they put into their stomachs. That no wonder all of them were fat (and which point she looked at me quite specifically! ) and that her precious Aishu stuck to her super healthy rice and veges.
"Oh just stop it Radha. Must you complain about everything?" her husband (let's just call him uncle to keep things easier) said in extremely exasperated tones just as I was about to open my mouth. Again the imploring look. I guessed it was uncles way of telling me not to bite off more than I could chew.
I thought it best not to open my mouth as uncle got a volley of whines right after his dialogue. ("You always say I complain when I'm just stating facts! How I managed to stay married to you for so many years I can never comprehend!")

Till lights out the lady had complained about everything in sight (me being the main target "Aishu would never eat non veg in a train compartment! She would respect the other passengers!" To "Aishu always dresses so modestly! None of this jeans and t shirt nonsense" and "Aishu always says her prayers before going to bed. That's why only some girls will go to heaven") She whined about the middle aged mans snores, the lack of range on her mobile, how dirty the train floor was, how uncle never irons his shirts properly, how her darling Aishu would have to wait for so long to receive them (later learnt that Aishu was short of Aishwarya, their grand daughter whom they were going to meet after a gap of 8 years) and so on and so forth.

Her whining turned out to be a joke between uncle and I. She would whine, we'd make eye contact and supress an uncontrollable urge to guffaw at the very craziness of the situation.
Finally the lady fell asleep. I think even her snores were seriously whine tainted. All was quiet till morning except for the two times she woke up and claimed that my snoring was keeping her up and how scratchy the train blankets were.

The moment the train reached Chennai I grabbed my bag and bounded down thinking of making a hasty exit before I was bombarded with a breakfast of whine ("Aishu always brushes her teeth even in the train" or something on the same line)

Before I headed off I felt an urge to wait and check out who their precious Aishu was. I mean I had heard about all her amazing virtues. The girl seemed a goddess as far as her grandmother was concerned. I really wanted to see who it was that was so appropriate in the "Whiner of the century s eyes".
So I stood unnoticed behind a pillar and waited for Aishu to make her grand appearance.  The lady and her husband stood a little away from the platform constantly checking the sea of passengers.
"Ammamma! Appappa!" I heard from the distance. And aishu appeared. My eyes popped out of my skull and so did madam whiners.
Her Aishu was not the Aishu she'd expected. This Aishu was tatooed extensively, sporting a rather funky haircut in an outrageous shade of purple and wearing extremely short and tight clothes. It was all I could do to not fall flat on the platform and die laughing!
I noticed that the lady was white in the face and as silent as could be. Tried as I might I couldn't resist the urge to breeze by them, lock my eyes with hers and say "Bye Aunty! Have fun with Aishu!" Uncle finally let out that guffaw he'd been holding in for so long.

It was the most lusciously sweet moment I have ever experienced.

A super revenge against SERIOUSNESS

*Entry for the Cadbury 5 Star "Condition Serious Hai" contest


  1. Once a doctor woman - who was exactly like this self-righteous aunty - gave me a lecture on indian culture! Was very traumatic for me! silly people!

  2. Tell me about it canary!! I was shocked myself!