Monday, June 4, 2007

In the city's trains

Chennai city has its share of attractions like all major cities do. The electric train and the marina beach would be at the very top when one tries to compare the city with any other Indian city.

This post is totally devoted to my experiences traveling in the city’s suburban trains. Traveling by these trains always leaves one with a myriad of experiences if one has the eye to look around and observe people. The sheer number of vendors trying to sell their wares at any point of the day is mindblowing. Each person has his/her own way of wooing a potential customer.

I have just tried to capture a single day’s experience here.

It was a hot Sunday but by Chennai standards, a relatively bearable one. I boarded the EMU at Mambalam that day. Ranganathan Street is a paradise for the city’s shoppers and inevitably always crowded. People got into the train with their shopping bags full. I was surprised to see a gentleman getting in carrying a cycle. It was a small bicycle he had just brought for his little son who was all smiles.

I got myself a seat luckily and looked around at my co-passengers. Sitting across from me on the opposite side was a young lady and a boy, apparently her friend. She was tall, had thick eyebrows and long hair. Simple and beautiful looking, she attracted quite a few approving glances. Her hair kept blowing in her face and her hands were making almost involuntary movements to keep it in place. She was looking a little tired and soon her eyelids drooped.

The bicycle meanwhile was touched, caressed and commented on by some curious passengers. Everybody seemed to have an opinion all of a sudden. A few were appreciative of its color, a few were critical of its cost, some commented that the tires wouldn’t last long... all this was going on while the boy was happy and smiling to himself on his father’s buy.

A little child of around 2-3 years was trying to touch the cycle and his toothless smile was directed at the boy. Soon enough, he was trying to sit on it with the boy’s help and his face glowed with pride when he was comfortably seated.

As stations sped past, the child was placed in the lap of the small boy while his parents carefully made sure that he wouldn’t fall. All these simple and common place incidents were occasionally spoilt by the glaring ring tones from somebody’s cell phone. But, they nevertheless provided me with much needed amusement and lifted my spirits after a long hot day spent in the midst of a mad shopping crowd.

Many people spend a good amount of time commuting in these trains and for them these little incidents serve as pleasant diversions. For these alone, I have always preferred the trains over buses. One has to just look around and be rest assured that one’s short journey is full of amusing experiences!!

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