Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Terminus

July 1, 1997

One-two-three-four-five-six...
One-two-three-four-five...
Four-five-six...
Four-five-six-seven

Seven! Shit, look! There's seven in that one. SEVEN.

Seven people standing compressed in one doorway. In one doorway of one bogey of one train. Madness. Madness.

"S, how the fuck are we ever going to survive like this?"
"I can't survive like this, boss. I can't travel like this. It's crazy."

We turn our faces back to the window. The airconditioned comfort of the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express suddenly seems ephemeral. If that's the word I want. There's this suburban train running parallel to ours. I can see at a glance about fifty-odd people traveling in that train. They are the ones hanging out of the doorways of the train, one foot in mid-air, one hand clawing tenuously the ridge on top of the gateway. I can't see anyone inside, though. It's too dark in there to see anyone. Except the guys sitting on the laps of the guys sitting on the window seat. But then, I can't see them. Half a dozen of the other.

S is gaping still. The train slows. A first class compartment comes into view. It's even more crowded than the one we first saw. If that's possible.

"I've heard..." S - transfixed - says. More to himself than to me. "I've heard that the only difference between first and second class is that they use deodorant and after-shave in first class." The tone of his voice indicates that he doesn't think this so much of a joke. Any more, that is. "Anyway, T, they're going to give us a house in Santa Cruz, and that's where the office is, and so it's okay." And with a visible effort he tears himself off from the window and turns to face me with a grin. Meet my friend, SSK. He's an optimist. And he's going to be a banker.

I smile back at him. "Thank God I'm going on to Bangalore." And we draw the curtains of our minds against the numbing sight of the local train outside, slipping in its race next to the mighty Rajdhani Express.

******

Written on March 2, 1998, about the morning of July 1, 1997. God damn, it's been ten years.

19 Comments:

Blogger km said...

Nostalgic mood, eh, Professor?

I love how every newbie in Bombay has a train story (and a monsoon story.)

7/01/2007 1:42 AM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

About 2500 people die on the Bombay trains every year. That's right, an average of almost 7 a day.

I wouldn't have survived there either. Not even in 1987. (Gentle reminder of the 10 years ...)

J.A.P.

7/01/2007 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Relive. The quintessential virar fast. Brrrr, brings out afresh the trials and trepidations of boarding one. an art form in itself. I now have nimble legs of a ballet dancer.

7/01/2007 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cant help it. Another grand view of the railways. who was that who said YT does not have quality content and people can't spare the time for such?

7/01/2007 9:49 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
just got back from that dadblasted place.

jap:
truly, on both counts.

anonymous:
what would we do without social historians?

i'd found that football skills learned on the blind side of school referees were of some use in procuring desirable positions in bombay trains.

7/01/2007 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Ph said...

I once stood on the platform and watched several trains go by because I couldn't find one where I thought if I go in I would come out alive. This was 1992.

7/01/2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger ??! said...

tsk, tsk....such brave-hearts. It's very simple - you pack your...ahem...crushables away, put on your magic shoes, sharpen all bony joints, and shut down the part of your brain that believes in self-preservation. Also, did you not know this is the government's secret plan for getting a team ready for the World Limbo Championships?

JAP: a fifth of those die just because they insist they can survive being hit by a rigid steel pole while travelling at 30kmh. Shaktimaan will save them, no?

7/01/2007 3:20 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

ph:
exactly.

puncs:
all news to me.

7/01/2007 10:47 PM  
Blogger km said...

PH: 1992? We might have missed the very same trains!

TR: Careful. Lot of Bombayphiles here :) (I *was* one of them.)

7/02/2007 2:05 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
heck yeah, and i have nothing against them. met up with a very decent one as well, and i appreciate her restraint in not commenting on this -- especially when i state in no uncertain terms that as far as i'm concerned, the place is a cesspit.

7/02/2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger Chronicus Skepticus said...

Well, I will give you that it is firmly in cesspit category, but as cesspits go, it's the best I've been in!

Oh and the cesspitians? Awesome people. Even if I say so m'self. :D

7/02/2007 10:00 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

ok so much for the restraint bit :-)

but hey, you made up in spades on the decent bit.

7/03/2007 12:22 AM  
Blogger km said...

Is Bombay really a stinking cesspit?

Debate at 11.

Come on, Rahul, Falstaff :)

7/03/2007 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Ph said...

KM is a trouble maker. Just sayin'

7/03/2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
how come you invited only those two bloggers, you misogynist?

ph:
aww, i love it when you're sweet :-)

7/03/2007 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puhleaze. I Beg. To Differ.

Bombay trains are The Most Marvellous Pieces of Evidence Ever to Assert One's Claim to the Darwinian Club of Survival. Anyone who feels otherwise can er. oh god run with the bulls in Pamplona or something and feel happy to survive but don't expeck no respeck from me man.

But then I mostly did only the Ladies First Class (oh! the Bhajans! the Fights!! the samosas!!! The fourth seat!!!!. AAAAHHH NOSTALGIA about the 8:12 fast to Churchgate!).

n!

7/08/2007 8:59 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

n!
erm, right on...!

7/09/2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T ! Is this some SSK person I know ? You know, the one who averted out-of-pocket costs by getting his Auntie to get the confirmed seats on the Rajdhani ?

GODDAMMIT ! It has indeed been 10 years !

-PM

7/13/2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

pm:
why don't you ask him and see? :-)

7/20/2007 11:32 AM  

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