Skip to main content

Man in the box

Reader, I type this post with a strong control of my considerable command over invective. Amravati, that odious spit of land in north Maharashtra was visited again this weekend. That's right, this weekend. The district coordinator for our project there, a creature who quite likely is channelling Judas, Benedict Arnold & any other traitor you'd choose, specified the weekend for ISO analysis. The last week was no picnic at work either, so my mood on Friday evening as I awaited the train at Dadar was one of thunderstorm proportions. Not helping my mood any was the ISO consultant.

A boatload of people either hate or love their jobs. But I have not yet met anyone who's job is his philosophy and vice versa. Except for the ISO dude. This specimen has to be met to be believed. I say met because by sight he probably resembles some jolly Santa in his middle age. You know, before the white hair, ho-hos and the reindeer... Once this dude starts talking however, stopping him is impossible. Believe me, I've tried. It's like trying to stop a break in the Khadakwasla dam with cellotape. Now, while no one will ever accuse me of above-average cranial activity, even I understood early on that I should not, under any and I mean ANY circumstance give this guy a chance to start preaching. I mean, if you think you could be dying, die. Don't ask this windbag for help. He qualifies as the reference to 'a fate worse than death'. Even so, being careful to the point of petrification, a man needs to breathe. Or move. During which time, some slight suggestion of sound may escape from you. That's all he needs to start off blabbering about how he knows the best method to do this, achieve that and whatnot. I'm just waiting for the day when this personage accosts some random unfortunate in the men's room and instructs him on how best to answer nature's call. Or perhaps break wind.

Anyway, my strategy when I've to accompany the town crier is to take a load of books, my mp3 player & enough batteries to comfortably power a city for 3 days. The moment we're on the train, I plug in the earphones, whip out the book and pointedly ignore him. Even this does not stop him tooting his horn every now and then, mind you. On this trip however, ISO-man, the dastardly district coordinator & Amravati itself came together to leave me... well, you know what they say - जब किस्मत ही गांडू, तोह क्या करेगा पंडू ?

First off, it was the weekend. Having to travel all night on Friday when I could have been otherwise employed was bad enough, but the fun does not end there. You see, to get to Amravati city and beyond, one has to hop off at a plague-spot called Badnera Junction. At 5:30 am. After which, a very sleepy, increasingly despondent blogger has to make it through the day listening to the coordinator spin tall tales about his efficient work & have ISO-dude counter him with suggestions about how to better himself. It's like the argumentative chess game from hell. The only difference being that in a chess game, both players have sort of a 50 - 50 chance of winning. But ISO-man is the Deep Blue in human avatar, so no ordinary mortal stands a chance. Someone hearing-defficient maybe, but no one else.

After 2 days of this brouhaha, if people were pious, truthful and all that, they'd admit that precious little actually got done. IF. We make our way back to Badnera Junction on Sunday evening & I don't know... the fates were trying to indicate that the fun wasn't over, I guess. Because it rained... poured like the rain of our dreams, venting nature's fury on an indifferent earth, accompanied by dark-grey skies & lightning bolts. I tell you, if a voice announced that the crack-o-doom and judgement day was upon us, I would have believed it. ISO-guy would no doubt have some ideas for nature on how to achieve a 'quality' Pralay, but that should surprise none of you by now. So, accompanied by this band-baaja, we get dropped off at the station at 8:00 pm, well in time for the 8:45 pm Samarasta 'Super-fast' express. Just as we're getting to the platform, a voice, which will probably haunt my dreams for years to come, announced prettily that the train would be late by 2 hours. I suppose it should have occured to someone to enquire against which snail the train's speed was being touted.

I reached for the earphones & book before she'd completed the announcement.

2 hours later, the same voice announces purposefully that the train is now delayed by 3:30 hours. I give up on the earphones & other paraphernalia and begin to pace. The stray dogs on the platform begin to give me looks of pity. Or scorn, I don't know... it was around 12:30 am. At about 12:45, just as I begin to draw in a deep breath to really let rip into life, the universe & everything else (to borrow a phrase), the train sneaks in, shamefacedly & shifty-eyed. At this juncture, I was ready to discover that Bogie A2 had been left back at Howrah & that we'd have to travel in the pantry car.

I reach Kurla around noon the next day, attempt to find a rickshaw & make the next blunder. I agree to share the rickshaw with ISO-man, a decision akin to allowing Bluebeard to commandeer your rowboat. About halfway to Santacruz, I gave up & began to contemplate an afterlife where I'd never have to run into anyone who's heard of ISO standards. Or at least, this pontificator. Who knows... perhaps he's dreaming of instructing the dudes up and downstairs on how to achieve efficiency.

Pah !!

Oh and just to round things off, a migraine came a-visiting yesterday evening.

Song for the moment: Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel


bhumika said…
I've said this earlier and i still wonder - how, just how do you manage to meet such 'namunas' every now and then?! :P

Loved the post. Tragic yet hilarious. Hope you feeling better now.
Anonymous said…
:) yea, i'm better. sort of. As to how I meet these people, I'm cursed. That's the only plausible explanation.
Anonymous said…
:D ha ha ha..'stary dogs' part was just hilarious and I could litterally imagine the scene :) made my sleepy Wednesday afternoon.
girish said…
:) good to know, stranger.

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …