Monday, 10 June 2013

Fellow passengers from hell

     A train journey always fills me with a multitude of emotions. A feeling of excitement, a quiver of anticipation as we reach our destination, a hint of nostalgia as I reminisce about vacations and journeys of the past almost always overlaid with a soupcon of annoyance at the other passengers.



     The most annoying type of passenger I have come across are the old timers who always fill the silence with inane chatter and meaningless platitudes before carefully examining and dissecting the genealogies of their fellow passengers under a microscope to unearth a mutual acquaintance and then indulging in a boring headache inducing soliloquy of their autobiography. They also dole out folksy wisdom and well meaning advice before they leave. It is hard to be harsh to them and darned near impossible to humour them without losing either our sanity or our temper. So, I drown out their voice by listening to music and (pretend to) read a book. It is not polite but I never pretended to be perfect.

    Infants in trains are a nightmare. I have always dreaded travel with infants in the vicinity of my seat. I had the experience of not getting any sleep due to the incessant mewling of an infant. "The bundle of joy" not only wails at an eardrum splitting decibel level but also projectile vomits after every meal. The abashed parents then mumble the requisite words of apology which we are left (with no choice but) to accept with grace.

     Then there are the middle aged women, the incorrigible gossipmongers who propagate and perpetuate  vicious rumours about everyone from their neighbours to the latest northern import to Tollywood all the while cloaking themselves in self righteous disapproval of everything against their narrow minded moral code. They revel in recounting every juicy morsel of gossip while assuaging their conscience by following it up with a sanctimonious tirade denouncing the very acts of moral depravity they enjoy discussing.



     I am not a misanthrope though my ranting above might raise serious doubts. It s just that I enjoy solitude and when travelling alone, I like to kick back and enjoy reading and falling asleep with the soothing rhythmic swaying movements of a train acting as a soporific. That happened only a precious few times. Most of the times though I end up sharing the bay with one or more of the aforementioned types of people.

     One particularly trying journey had me in the middle berth with the hundred year old geezer on the lower berth ordering lights out at eight, followed by the screaming and wailing of the infant opposite my seat which culminated in a sonic boom mimicking crescendo at the exact time I fell asleep. To make matters worse, the consummate busybody of the top berth, who slept through the clamour of the night like a passed out drugged up junkie, tried to regale me with the indiscretions of a philandering actor in the morning after a sleepless night. It is testimony to my patience and upbringing that stressed on respecting the elderly that no homicides were committed on that train.

     However, I do remember that the baby had the most angelic smile and his laughter reminded me of tinkling bells.