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June 13, 2006

Curious Joe or Jill?


I am sure all of you have experienced what I am going to talk about during our train journeys in India. As a child , I loved the experience of traveling from Belgaum to Madras by train. The summer trip would be planned well in advance and the last two days, my mom would start cooking puzhikachal, soft Idlis and chutneys.

The moment we enter the train, the first fight among us sisters would be who gets to sit by the window and then later on who sleeps on the upper berth. But in the midst of all this are our co passengers who start asking questions directed to my mom.

1. Where are you going ?
2. To your place or inlaws?
3. Where are you from?
4. Brahmins?
5. Is your husband not coming ( my dad used to join us the last two weeks of our vacation)
6. Don't you have a son?
7. How old is your first daughter, looks like she is ready to be married.

All these questions start from late evening ( that is when we board around 6pm and it used to reach Bangalore the next day morning)till my mom goes to sleep we have our dinner, my mom would feel conscious and offer fellow passengers and vice versa. Some older folks ask us to take the upper berth that we would gladly agree. Sometimes you get along with them so well that when the journey ends, you are sad.

When I started working and came home for weekends or festivals, I hated the day journey by train. God! The questions would be , why I am not married, if I am in love with some one etc? I was on my way to Tirunelvelli , as my grandpa passed away, I had a walkman on and was crying (no songs were played). My co passengers comment
" these city girls, they flirt and now they sit & cry" I was livid with anger when I heard it, I took off my walkman and gave them a piece of my mind and the rest of my journey was peaceful

When I went to India this time, I was returning from Salem to Chennai. My mom and sis came to send me off at the station and I started crying when I saw my mom and sis's eyes filled with tears. To avoid talking, I struggled to read a Tamil magazine ( not a good reader) and never saw my passenger to the eye. The end of the journey, I had to as the old lady was struggling to lift her bag, when I offered help, she asked me questions with a gush of energy, " are you studying abroad? ( my hand luggage gave away that I live abroad), do you live there by yourself? blah blah and then R shouts from the platform to hold on and that he will pick my suitcase, you should have seen the look on the ladies face? She assumed I was not married and R was my boyfriend.
I love to answer in monosyllables with such people and curiosity kills them........

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