“May I have your attention please? Train no. 16516, Yesvantpur Express, which is scheduled to arrive at 0945 has been delayed by an hour.” A male voice announced this bit of information through the tiny speakers and then went about his usual business of droning out the never-ending list of stations.
I walked to a shop which displayed various magazines and I started looking at the cover page of the books. I am a firm believer that the contents of the book and the cover page are correlated. 1 particular cover page attracted my attention and I bought that magazine paying 20 INR. One needs a companion while travelling in a train.:)
So, I had effectively killed 15 minutes of the 1 hour additional time I had got, courtesy Indian Railways! For a small town like Sakleshpur which has only one platform in its railway station, the crowd present there to catch the train was huge. But luckily, I had reserved a seat for myself by logging into the website of Indian Railways the same day I selected a seat in a not so good engineering college which is located in Mangalore. (Yes, I am intelligent!) And I say it so because none of the top 10000 ranks selected that college.
The remaining 45 minutes passed without any major incident and the male voice in the speakers had changed to a sweet female voice much to my relief. I kept looking at the young boys who had come with their older, less-agile relatives for the task of hopping in through the train windows and ‘reserve’ seats.
Our train consisting of 15 coaches(not sure about the number) was approaching the station (Ah! Finally). But even before the train came to a halt, the young boys started scrambling aboard to get a seat, preferably a window seat for their relatives. I stopped watching this drama and boarded the coach in which I had reserved the seat. I opened the fresh magazine which I had bought an hour back from my backpack. I looked at the cover page again and felt proud about my choice of the magazine.
“Excuse me, this seat is mine”, the voice of the girl was music to ears. She again repeated the same sentence. I didn’t realise that she was directing her sentence at me. When she told the same sentence again, I knew that it was for me and the magazine went into the backpack unknowingly (Gentleman inside me did that;)).
The sight of that girl was one of those occasions where your heart goes into a joyous mood. I almost got lost looking at her blue eyes only to remind myself to check my e-ticket. My seat was opposite to the seat in which I was sitting. So, I apologized to the girl and moved into my seat. She sat in front of me. At that moment, I knew that the magazine didn’t have any chance to come out of the backpack and it had to wait till I reached my destination.
The train whistled and started moving. I was wondering whether it was right on my part to look at the girl again (These moral dilemmas, I hate them ;)). Apart from the blue eyes, I hadn’t seen her properly and to my surprise, my heart was beating at a faster rate. The last time this kind of thing happened was when I ran the 400m race in class XII ( I won that race ).
I raised my head and looked out of the moving train. It was then I realised that it was moving in full throttle. Just looking outside was beautiful. The trees were moving behind as in a hurry to catch and kiss the tree which passed before it. Cunningly and gradually, I turned my attention towards the girl. She was wearing PINK halter top and blue skinny jeans. Her silky raven-black hair was slapping against her cheeks and her hand was constantly trying to stop the hair from doing so. But the air coming from the window was relentless and I thanked the atmosphere at that moment. Nature was being kind to me, outside the train and also inside. I felt happy.
After 10 minutes, the girl opened a book from her PINK quilted cross body bag. She tied her hair and started reading Sidney Sheldon’s ‘Nothing Lasts forever’. I hate Sidney Sheldon! So, my plan of talking with the girl was washed away by Sidney Sheldon and I couldn’t take out my magazine out in front of her. I hated my choice of the magazine which I bought. The remaining part of the journey went without any incidents.
We reached Mangalore in the evening and as always, it was raining. Rain and Girl – beautiful combination, isn’t it? As soon as the girl got out of the train, she took out a PINK umbrella from her PINK bag. I hated her mother for packing the umbrella for her. How on Earth did her mother foresee the future? How did she know that it was going to rain?
A man in his forties with a big belly started approaching us. “How was the journey Pooja?”, he enquired. “It was fine Uncle”, she replied. He picked her luggage and she followed him without even looking at me for once. I hated her uncle for coming on time to pick her. We Indians are not supposed to do that! And so my journey with Pooja ended there in a bitter note and I strolled across to the auto stand.
Next Part: False Start.