I never liked filling in those annoying slam books, which were a habit during the ‘bye-bye’ days of school life. Apart from having to answer downright dumb questions like – My first crush, My happiest moment, and the like (which we used to answer with ‘The day I was born’, ‘The day I met you’, and so on, which of course, we never really meant!) One particular question which was constant was – Your most embarrassing moment. I mean, who want to make that public? Characters like me, maybe.
Everybody has moments when they wish they could just disappear. Something like that happened last week. My friend and I were having this only-girls chat, and the brother was in some other room. He is a nice kid; he doesn’t eavesdrop as much these days. Now my friend had read up something somewhere..about..erm, well what the heck, orgasms. So she was animatedly detailing the phenomenon and I knew this was no good. Embarrassing! So I kept going ‘shoo shoo’ and as a last desperate attempt, I nearly yell out, ‘Babe, chill! I KNOW WHAT AN O***** IS! (now it is a freak word) I know more than you think, so give it a break!’
Pin drop silence.
Then an alien voice that is not supposed to be in the vicinity blurts out, ‘Oh? OH?’
Where did he spring out from? How do you reason something like this with your little brother? As both our lower jaws hit the floor, he gives me this oh-my-god-what-have-you-done look and stomps out.
Of late, I have suddenly developed this affinity quotient that gets me into trouble with, of everybody, the Railway police force.
We were birding near the Velachery Railway station. ‘We’ translates to three juniors and me; as a part of the MNS Bird Race. The Pallikarnai marsh is very close to the Velachery Railway station, so we walked to the marsh, feasted our eyes on the numerous water fowl, whooped and whooped watching a kingfisher dive again and again to, well, fish. Then we walk along the tracks to go back to the railway station when the RPF come running to us, whistles and rifles and all.
‘Terrorist a? Bomb vekka vandengala?? Who are you people??’
I was the oldest of the lot, and I lost my voice, because I felt like bursting into laughter. Yes, I’m shameless. Madhu, next to me, was munching on Chocos and almost offered the gun-man some. Gladys, the youngest, took charge then, and she was like, ‘Students, sir..’. That was it.
‘Suicide panna vandengala?’
Madhu tried, and lost. Loud snort.
Final straw. They got us to the station, and questioned us again. And again. And again.
Then they realised we might be air headed, but innocent, after all, and let us away.
Thank heavens the place was empty.
Oh, and no bribes there. They are nice, duty conscious people, the RPF.
A couple of days back, a few of us went to the SRM University. It is in some God forsaken place out of the city, and we had to catch a train to reach there. When I was getting back, I had Raji for company. Our legs were killing us, and as the train chugged into the station, we notice the ladies compartment is full, with some passengers standing; but the one next to it is nearly empty. So we act smart and throw our noses into the air and make ourselves comfortable in the empty compartment.
The train chugs into Tambaram. Suddenly, both of us feel like Pepsi, and we get out for some. Trains are frequent from Tambaram to home, so it was really no problem. There is the Ticket Checker. He had already caught one man who was travelling without a ticket, when he asked us for ours, we proudly flash our tickets to him.
We were good citizens.
‘Ma’am, this is a second class ticket. You have been travelling in a first class compartment. Please follow me.’
Shoot! No wonder it was empty. The train chugs out of the station, and Raji and I contemplate running into it. The man seemed to have heard our thoughts so he gives us this don’t- try-any-tricks look and ushers us into his cubby-hole office. He shows us the rule book and tells us that we have committed a crime that might land us in jail, and we better pay the penalty of around Rs 300 per head.
I cannot fathom why I find all these situations exceedingly funny. It was pointless because I did not have the cash, and even if I did, I wouldn’t pay. Because it was an honest mistake! So the guy shuffles around as we give him our family details, and then he pops the question.
‘Evlo kaasu vechirikenga?’
Now we are experts at this, aren’t we? And I was glad I was carrying a handbag. I dumped all the hundred rupees notes into the bag, and retain only the tens, and hand over the wallet. He counts the coins and notes, opens the portion that contains all my girl-stuff, and still pokes his finger inside and digs around, and finally counts a hundred bucks.
Of course, it is not enough. So he tries again. Leave the ID cards here, go home, get cash in the morning. Or (horror!) spend the night in our railway cell. Raji almost fell for it. She almost gave her ID card away when I kicked her foot. She thanked me for it later.
After some more pleading (Sorry sir, please sir, this is the first time we are coming by train sir) he allowed us to leave at last. ‘At great risk to my position and job’ were his words. Like duh!
What a waste of time and money. Sadness.