Friday, September 02, 2005

En Route

This is something I must share with you, especially those of you who are planning to travel.

When travelling alone, never, but never carry Ogden Nash with you. The night before I left for Hyderabad, I came home past 3 a.m., posted about Nash post haste. Six hours later, I had slept (for what seems a nanosecond), packed, and then hared off to catch my train. While leaving I figured that after two miserable workdays and no sleep, I deserved some more Nash and picked up my Candy is Dandy.

And so it came to be that Nash and I boarded the train. We didn’t say very much for the first few hours, till about three in the afternoon. You see, I find it difficult to be coherent in slumber. Around three thirty, feeling more awake, I settled myself down to a long, relaxing read.

Unspeakably daft idea from the second I thought it. Nash is not one for light, delicate laughter – the sort you’d come across at a society do, yes? Nash brings forth a rich, deep laugh that bubbles from somewhere in your toes and by the time it has articulated itself from your throat, the world resonates with it.

While this is wonderful when you have your own space, in a train compartment full of my brethren (alright, alright, I’ll admit it – I am Gujarati) – is not the most intelligent idea going. Why being part of the Gujarati community is an embarrassment is going to make little or no sense to those not from India, so I’ll give you a brief bio.

You see, we’re mostly a business community from the western coast of India, with little or no sense of the fine, subtle or the beautiful in this world. This is not to say that we don’t have an immensely rich tradition of literature or no culture at all – oh we do! Though going by most Gujaratis now, how both literary and cultural traditions have either flourished or been appreciated is an utter mystery to me!

It seems a point of note that in the twenty-three trains journeys to Hyderabad in the past four years, I have never, ever, NOT met my brethren. I have also never been spared either being hit on or a lecture about how I am not a “good Gujarati girl” or whatever that means! Enough, I think because now I digress.

So there I was, laughing my unmentionables off and there they were, staring and gawping like I was Zaphod Beeblebrox! I tried, and mighty unsuccessfully I might add, to tone it down; to be a good Gujarati girl. I promise you, I tried. Finally, about one hundred minutes of laughter later, a meek voice from a corner of the compartment asked me what was so hilarious.

I must admit I was struck speechless because the question was asked in Gujarati and I had no way of answering lucidly. I still have not been able to understand why he thought I would understand Gujarati and I don’t like to think of the answers. All the same, I proffered the book to the man of the question, which he gingerly accepted – like he expected it to bite him. Mean of me perhaps but his reaction was almost as amusing as Nash. It was all I could do to hide another guffaw.

I think he spent about fifteen minutes examining and looking through the book. He even asked me a few questions about Nash – who he was, where he came from, if he wrote short stories and why this nonsense and not other writers who make more sense. I answered his questions with as much clarity as I could. However, He still looked incredibly confused about the whole thing and especially my most unseemly hilarity.

Was there a point in explaining this, elucidating and holding forth on the subtleties of Nash? No? Well, I thought you would see it my way. I shook my head and with a sigh, I closed Candy is Dandy, grabbed my camera and headed out to the door of the coach.

Good decision, that one. I got some shots I like – some shots that give me hope for my photography obsession. Those are up next. :-)


GD said...

Hell, what made you even attempt to explain anything to the man?!
Anyway, I think Nash isn't such a bad idea on a train journey. He's engaging and entertaining enough to take your mind off the company, especially they have obnoxious Gujju kids around. And with such company, who cares what they think of you!
And hey, except for your garrulity, no one would ever know you're Gujju! ;-)

SaidBack said...

You and your train rides.

(cche!) :D

Anonymous said...

Enough of train travels... :-)

the cowlick said...

Truly hilarious post! Once when I was little and shamelessly reading a James Hadley Chase with one of those not-covering-much covers, I noticed a lot of people point at me and then cover their jaws-dropped mouths.. good fun!

Viewer said...

Thnxs for dropping by :) As it is said the gratest discoveries are made by accidents :) I kinda like ur style of writing :) Keep visiting

Extempore said...

@GD: Thanks for the compliment - twisted though it might be.

@Pepper: :))

@ The Cowlick: Life's little wonders, I tell you!

@Anon: Yup, am just going to make you pay for the flight the next time! :P

@Viewer: Thanks for dropping by and thanks for the compliment. :) I look forward to seeing you back here.