Family history shared in a bus


Bus travel is an experience. But never knew that it can be so very interesting. Come to think of it, the conversations we overhear (this is not intentional mind you!) are excellent bloggable materials. And am sure this deserves a special section in the blogs and am going to add special tags.

The travel time last evening from work to home was just over 35 mins. Between, ‘time’ is a tricky thing and I have a feeling it customizes itself according to people’s mood, place, or circumstance. Otherwise how could I have learnt the family history of 3 families spanning over 3 decades in about 30 mins? Many such conversations have made it to our lunch table discussions and then forgotten. They are worthy of being recorded for posterity. Precisely why am going to jot them down here!

Claimer 1: All characters, names, incidents, events cited below are real and have not been distorted.

Claimer 2: Hey you all women reading this. Don’t you ever believe when the guys say that they do not gossip or indulge in small-talk. They do it big time. There will be few smart guys who will attribute that gossip also to the presence of a girl or two in the group!

Disclaimer: Am not sure of the authenticity of the tales spun (err.. facts discussed) by the characters though.. And I mean no offence to you guys who traveled, if you chance upon this blog. Which I doubt..

Disclaimer: There might be mix-ups of conversations of B and Mani. Read on to see who they are..

A girl and two guys, all in their 2nd yr Engineering, were occupying the last seat and D70 is the bus route (in Chennai). They got to ‘know’ each other a little recently (this is my inference from the conversation that followed). For convenience, let me call the girl G and one of the boys B (for I did not figure out their names). The other boy is Manikandan and is brilliant. He himself made that claim and B vouched for his academic brilliance.

(Starts from where I picked up)

B ( to G): What’s the model number of your mobile?

G: Not sure da. Don’t remember actually. I shelled out 7K though.

B and Mani: Too bad you don’t know! Ok, what songs do you have?

G: Eei,check the file storage. My brother only knows da. He listens to the songs as I have pain in my ears when I plug the ear-phones in.

Mani: Why?

G: Don’t know. Must visit the ENT.

Mani: I mean, why don’t you know which songs are available?

G: Oh that! (giggles..) I told you I don’t use it. My brother does.

B: You have two brothers right?

G: I have a younger brother and 3 cousin brothers who are older than me. But they are as good as my own brother and are very fond of me.

B or Mani: Do you fight?

G: Yeah, we fight and forget soon too.

B: Yeah, that’s the way to be. I and my elder brother fight too. We are still close.

G: Do you both have sisters?

B: We both have an elder brother. Do you know something. My brother’s name is Karthik and so is Mani’s (it was at this junction that I got to know that Mani is Mani). And both did IT in Jerusalem college.

G: Same class?

Mani: No, my brother is studying while his brother is [some year]-passout.

G: So nice no?!! Do your brothers take care of you (unga annanga ungale nalla pathikkuvangala?).

B: Yeah. I told you we also fight.

G: You know, my brother takes his studies too lightly. He feels that he should have been born a year later.

B or Mani: Why?

G: No exams for 10th std from next year. That is why. He is in 10th now.

B or Mani: I heard that the exam ban is in effect from this year?

G: No No. I do not think so.

G to Mani in particular: I heard that you study very well?

Mani: See, I just listen in the class. I don’t spend hours studying like how others portray. But somehow, I manage to score well. Just listening in class matters.

G: I don’t know about that. I can’t make sense of half the things taught. Who do you think teaches that well? Most of them (i guess it is the faculty) are recent pass-outs!

B & Mani: Yeah yeah, you are right….

B: But what this guy says is true. I’ve never seen him with books at home. He is either watching TV or playing cricket or talking to me or other friends. His brother is even more brilliant. He was the District 7 (or similar rank, don’t remember) in 12th.

G: Wow! Your parents must have been very happy.

Mani: Yes, specially my dad. You know, my dad has struggled quite a lot when he was young. Very much!

B: Hey tell her about how your dad started da!

Mani: He (the dad) started working in a bakery at Red Hills when he was just 7. His dad ditched him after his (the dad’s) mom’s death and married someone else. He has struggled his way up since then.

B: His (mani’s) mom’s a great support. You know, their’s was a love marriage.

Mani: Yeah, my mom is very broad-minded. My parents still have not been accepted by my grand-parents (must be the mom’s side- my brilliant inference).

G: Sad na?! But it is nice that your dad has made it and has also managed to educate both his sons in professional colleges!

B /Mani : True, true! Really great.

G (laughs): Mani, I then don’t see any objections from your parents when the time comes…

Mani: Yes. They are very open to it.

G: I sometimes tell my mom that I’m going to find my own match. And my mom is too easy on that too. She says she’ll happily save the money to be spent on 50 sovereigns gold and dowry if i elope (laughs again)!

B: Hey what photo is this? (presumably the one in G’s mobile)

G: This is our college symposium. And this is when I went to Coimbatore for [something to do with college].

Mani: We should plan an outing with all our friends. Maybe Ooty or some place. It will be fun.

G: No way. My parents will not allow for more than a day or two at max. Maybe beach or ..

It was time for me to alight while their interesting journey must’ve continued. While the three-some discussed their families so loudly in so public a place like a local transport, what was heartening was to hear them speak highly of their family and there wasn’t a trace of vulgarity!

Life sometimes doesn’t seem complex at all. It can be run as a 30 mins slideshow…

Smoking banned?


Just a couple of days after the ban,  my husband was bringing home our son’s friend, a cute little smart 6 yr old girl as she wanted to come over to play with my son. On their way, they saw a decently dressed man- with a tie and a laptop bag- smoking in the street corner- a public place by any definition. This little girl was quick to spot the guy smoking and she boldly questioned him why he was smoking on the road as she saw the news on TV saying that people should not smoke in public!!! My husband was surprised, stunned, and happy at her level of awareness and also liked the spooky look on the guys face. It appears that the smoker was too shocked and did not know whether to drop the cigar, or reply, and was visibly embarrassed! Serves the guy right:-)

Person next to you…


It was a ten-days trip to Kolkatta (hope I got the spelling right) and Darjeeling. We were a team of thirty, going on a holiday. All of us were visiting this part of India for the first time.

Train travel is a mega-event in itself. We had decided to make the most of our two nights and one full day travel. There were plans for music, dance, card and chess games, snacks and what not!But for two seats, the remaining were continuous seats, in a single compartment. These two seats amidst our group was occupied by a father and a son. The man was aged around 40. It appeared that they were speaking in some other language and not Tamil. From what we heard, it sounded like Bangla, or so we presumed! We decided to request this friend to exchange our two seats with his. We were not asking him to compromise or settle for anything less. He was offered a Window seat and the one next to it. It was a cosy place. We were surprised to hear an uncompromising ‘no’ (not rude though!) from him. Obviously, we not not happy with this unfriendly person! We decided to show him that we were’nt pleased and that we considered him an hindrance.

The Howrah Mail started at around 10.30 pm or so. Originally, our plan was to start off on our fun programs the following morning after a good night’s sleep. But this man changed our minds. We started right away by playing our favourite cassette in full volume. Our claps and taps compounded to the already gruff sounding tape recorder. Our man did not flinch. We expected him to excuse himself atleast after one hour and accept our exchange offer. But here he was, reading a bound book. Never stirred for a second!! Our impatience was growing by degrees.

The war which was going without any dialog between our party and him, was now getting verbal, but only from our side and only in our local language, Tamil. One from our team was looking into our faces while calling our man all names. Another joined this game and lots of things were spoken. Blessed in the knowledge that our man did not understand what was being said of him, the game continued the whole of next day. All the while, the man was busy reading his book or was engaged in an animated conversation with his son in his language. We had no clue to learn if he was playing the same game which we were playing on him, calling us names and passing funny comments!

Next morning, the train was nearing Kolkatta, perhaps another two hours to go. Our friend got up from his seat and probably went for a wash. His book, that he was religiously holding on to, had fallen down and was open. And what did we see! It was in Tamil! I took the book and was looking at it, open mouthed when our friend returned. I’m not sure if he saw that ‘Oh No!’ look on my face. He took the book from me with a mere ‘Thanks’ and kept it aside. No expression what so ever on his face. A few minutes later, he called for our attention, in Tamil (?!) and pointed to some factory through the window. He announced (in Tamil again) that it was a liquor factory belonging to the famous Hindi actor, Danny Denzongpa!!!

He spoke a couple of sentences after that. None of us actually heard what he said, but only knew that he was talking in Tamil.

The train reached Kolkatta. We got off, and so did our friend. We parted ways. It was more than thirty minutes before we realised that none of us had uttered a word after we heard the man speak!!! What was on in his mind is still a mystery which we’ve never dared to unravel!

I’m sure he’ll never forget, but has surely forgiven.