The inside of the train was swarmed with people and everyone stunk like a different animal, except for Bunty and me. The stinking train had promised to take us to Mysore and we humbly believed it. Since the journey from Bangalore to Mysore was just three hours at the most, we dint bother to reserve our seats. So the general compartment! And everyone in the compartment seemed to have a ‘this-is-my-seat’ attitude. Well, we weren’t an exception either. In fact we were a step ahead in that league. Hence we sliced through the swarm of people like a fighter jet shooting through the air in the sky, and found two seats near the window.
Bunty put our bags in the luggage area above us and took the window seat, with me sitting beside him. By his expression I could say he was overwhelmed by finding us seats in the overcrowded compartment. He looked at me and smiled. I saw a glimpse of Julius Caesar on his face. ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ was the unspoken statement. He kept looking at me, and it was only when I acknowledged his victory did he turn his face away. Such was his desperation to get the credit for his triumph.
The train grunted and groaned as if telling that the passengers were a pain in its neck. Finally, it started moving. Had a Ferrari or a Lamborghini seen the speed of our train, it would have dismantled itself in a fit of laughter. Our train left the station after floundering for full five minutes. Many people were standing and everyone carried a different expression on his/her face: some angry, some jealous. Bunty looked at them, and this time I saw a glimpse of Hitler on his face. “Bloody losers!” was the unspoken statement. A moment later he looked at me, but I dint acknowledge this time. Was his ego hurt? I could not tell.
Though we managed to get the seats, we were still sitting very uncomfortably. There were five people on our bench, including Bunty and me. It was the same with the people in front of us. It was only after twenty minutes did I notice a man sitting right in front of us with a book in his hand and ear phones in his ears, oblivious of the uncomfortable seating arrangement. His face dint show any agitation or uneasiness. A very proactive man indeed, I thought. Just when I was analyzing him, he lifted his head, saw me, smiled and buried his head back into his book. Clearly, he dint want any diversion from reading.
One hour had passed. Bunty and I were growing impatient with each passing minute.
A few minutes later a red traveling bag fell on Bunty from the top. It angered him so much he started shouting and cussing at the top of his voice.
“Which idiot’s bag is it?”
It might not have angered him that much if it had fallen on his head, but it wasn’t the case, as it had fallen on his thighs. He was holding his cell phone in his hands with forearms resting on his thighs. For a guy like Bunty, a cell phone is like a second girl friend through which he can reach his first. So the agony!
He was standing with the red bag in his hand and everyone was looking at him now. But to my amazement, nobody claimed the bag. Bunty was breathing fire.
“Which scumbag’s bag is this?” He shouted again. Idiot had become a scumbag now. Before he could graduate and do his PhD in swearing, I intervened.
“Come on. Whose bag is this?” I asked decently.
But still nobody came forward. Some left their seats and came near us to get some free entertainment, only to lose their seats to some other standing passengers. Such dumb heads, I should say. They were clearly disappointed to know that there was no ‘intense’ drama going on. When they realized they had lost their seats for nothing, they showered praises on everyone’s mother and sister.
Bunty held the zipper of the bag and said, “If this bag belongs to nobody, I am going to take out everything and start throwing out of the window one by one.”
Some of the passengers were very curious to know what was inside the bag. Some looked scared, for they suspected a bomb. And some were just not interested and looked away. I had to say something and pacify him.
But before I could say something the reading-man who was sitting in front of us spoke, “Take it easy, my friend. This doesn’t solve any problem. You have to stay calm.” He closed the book, kept it on his seat and got up. I could see what book he was reading. It was ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman. Now I knew what was all about being calm when a five kg bag falls on you.
“Trust me, you don’t want to do that,” said the disciple of Daniel Goleman.
“No, I don’t trust you and I really want to do it,” said the disciple of Hitler.
“Hey, come on, dude. Don’t do it. That’s all right,” I tried to appease him.
He was getting back to his senses slowly.
“At least let me find out whose bag it is. Such fat headed skunk! Can’t he even keep it properly?” he was still furious.
“May be he is asleep somewhere. Or he could even be a bit far from here. There are more than hundred people in this compartment. May be he dint hear you,” said the ‘supposed-to-be’ shrink.
Bunty looked at me for a nod or a shrug. I decided to nod.
He breathed heavily once, made space for the bag and kept it in the luggage area far away from above us.
Once we had settled, the lover of non-violence and peace said, “Hi, I am Dr. Abhishek.”
“And I am Amitabh,” mocked Bunty.
I stamped his leg and said, “Hey, behave.” Then I turned to Aishwarya’s actor-turned-doctor husband.
“Don’t mind. As you can see he’s a little disturbed. Well, I am Ritesh and he is Bunty. We are students of engineering,” I made a formal introduction.
“No problem. I can understand. By the way, I am a professor of Psychology in Acharya Institute, Bangalore.”
Well that explains the presence of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence. I bet he was listening to something exactly opposite to Linkin Park on his I-pod.
He was at least 10-12 years older than we. He continued.
“You should always have a calm mind, my friend. Only then the mind works well. Haven’t you heard that saying? ‘He, who angers you, conquers you.’”
No wonder he was a professor.
“Hey, what’s with you and the word ‘calm?’ Is that your solution to everything?” Bunty retorted.
Professor was mute for a second or two. So Bunty continued.
“My philosophy is simple: ‘He, who angers you, motivates you.’”
“Huh? Motivates you? How?” Professor was flummoxed, and so was I.
“Motivates me to kill him,” replied Bunty.
The moment he said that, I laughed, which clearly annoyed the Professor. I immediately apologized. “Please don’t mind. He can be difficult sometimes.”
“That’s all right. I’ve handled many students like him many times.” The Professor’s ego was too conspicuous. He changed the topic and continued.
“This is the reason I don’t keep my bag on top when I am traveling in general compartment, you know. I don’t want to cause problem to others in any way. That’s why I always keep my bag with me.” He showed a black bag which was kept on the floor, near his legs.
I really dint know how to respond to this modern Mahatma Gandhi. But I still managed to say, “That’s a nice thing to know.”
After that he kept on talking. Bunty never uttered a word, but he became interested soon enough. Professor’s topics ranged from facts to fiction, Philosophy to Spirituality to Psychology. Since he specialized in Psychology, he talked more on it. But he really got on our nerves whenever he touched the subject of Spirituality or Philosophy. It was all right with the rest of the subjects. I should admit he was a good talker.
The train finally reached Mysore railway station. People were already fighting to get off the train as soon as possible. The insides of our noses were stung again by the famous smell of railway station. Though people were getting off the train, the compartment was still crowded. I wonder how many were there when we started from Bangalore. It was a train, right? Or did people confuse it with Titanic? Since I was also a part of it, I couldn’t complain.
Bunty took our bags from the luggage area. To our astonishment the red traveling bag that had fallen on Bunty was still there – untouched. He clenched his fist and punched it once in disgust and looked around to see if anybody was there to claim it, but none of them showed any symptoms of any attachment towards the bag.
“I still feel like throwing it out,” muttered Bunty.
“Forget it, man. It’s over. Let it go,” I reasoned.
Our new acquaintance was also standing with his bag.
“Ok, gentlemen. It was really nice meeting you.”
“Nice meeting you too, Dr. Abhishek,” I said.
We shook our hands. Bunty also smiled for the first time in 2 hrs and shook his hands. With that we started towards the door. After another session of pushing and struggling and swearing, we finally got off the train. Dr. Abhishek was right behind us, but when I looked back to say ‘good bye’ for the last time, he wasn’t there. I swept the area with my eyes and saw him through the window sill, still stuck up in the compartment between people, staggering to move past them. He saw me and shrugged his shoulders. I waved my hand and said ‘bye.’
Bunty was a couple of paces ahead of me, so I started jogging. When I caught up with him, he opined about Dr. Abhishek, “Very boring fellow, but still quite interesting.”
“Touché!” I said and we started walking briskly towards the gate.
I found a small bookshop on the way out and slowed my pace.
“Don’t even think about it. Prashanth must be waiting for us outside,” Bunty reminded me when he saw me eying the bookshop.
“I should be back in two minutes, man. You be outside. I shall come and join you both soon,” I requested.
“Make it fast.”
I then changed my direction and started walking towards the bookshop. By the time I reached, Bunty had already strolled out of the railway station.
After browsing for some time and when I dint find any book of my taste, I decided to walk away. When I started moving towards the gate, I saw someone I knew briefly with a black bag on his back. It was Dr. Abhishek. He was buying a can of coke in a nearby refreshment shop.
“Dr. Abhi….” I stopped midway, for something had caught my eye.
Then I noticed what it was. He paid for his drink and lifted another bag from the floor with his right hand. It was the same red traveling bag that had fallen on Bunty.
I wanted to call Bunty immediately, but decided against it, for I certainly dint have any intention of becoming an umpire for a street (or station) fight. Moreover, I remembered his Philosophy perfectly well: ‘He, who angers you, motivates you.’
I glanced at Dr. Abhishek who was now talking to somebody on his cell phone. The man had really played the game well. I smiled for myself and started walking towards the gate.
Copyright © Karthik 2010