Amid the moving mayhem in the cattle class

Not that we can afford any luxuries, what with the prices of dal and many essentials putting the family budget in the soup. Travel by cattle-class (reserved, though) proved quite an eye-opener.

The Brindavan Express is virtually Bangalore on wheels. There is a big bazaar, a beggars’ colony, traffic jams, multicusine, decibel assault and squatters.
The aisles and doorways are chock-a-block with travellers holding up the food train despite curses and howls from the servers.

Many a passenger gets a poke in the ribs: one wakes up from a nap to find guns being held by a toy seller. Also on offer are rattles, balloons, ribbons, hair clips, flutes and an assortment of knick knacks.
Some enterprising guys even sell lingerie and T-shirts. Fresh vegetables and jasmine find ready buyers.

If you are spared by the gun toting toy seller, you are snared by those seeking alms. Sometimes they crawl between your legs. Some of them delight in poking. One wakes up to find a grinning off-the-rocker cove wearing a cast iron ring on one of his legs.
An elderly gentleman almost threw fits when he saw a hopper being brandished: it was a tender coconut seller! A German tourist tried to tackle a vada with a spoon and the Indian doughnut flew diagonally and landed in the lap of passenger in the adjacent row. Then there are the train troubadors screaming at the top of their voice.

Three to a seat, the one in the middle could feel like the stuffing in a veg burger. As the journey progresses, the press of people also swells.

This sparked off a debate on Yeddyurappa’s two-child norm. The argumentative Bangalorean held forth. Not two, there should be just one, he asserted. One pointed at the vast expanses from the train window and said there was enough room for everybody.

But the real clue to the pop explosion lies in the loo. As the naughty Sardarji Khushwant Singh once said: there is more sex in Indians’ minds than in their groins.

Graffiti

The graffiti says it all: Power, fame...all are illusory. Next to that is an anatomical sketch with the legend: for a nice hump contact... written with a fibre-tip pen, it looks to be from a literate mind. The loo walls, made of composite materials, offer a nice surface to let go of one’s repressed inclinations. Gone are the sunmica and zinc days.
At one point, a man fingering an orange, green and white rosary in a Hare Krishna pouch, jostled his way in. “Even the good lord couldn’t ensure a seat for him,”somebody quipped.

Next to him stood a burqa-clad lady and further down was a youngster with a cross dangling from a steel chain around his neck.

Amid all this moving mayhem, one person conspicuous by his absence was the TTE. He popped in at the beginning, showed up fleetingly and then vanished. Once when he did appear, a man with blood-shot eyes said: “Duddu thogondu enubekadaru madthare.” (they take money and do whatever they want). The official, sporting a menacing scar on his cheek, just eyeballed him and disappeared.

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