Mr. Bharat

"Will the train on this track go to Kashmere Gate?”

I replied in the affirmative. The platform was quiet, and I was waiting for the metro. The man with the query sat down by my sides. He felt happy to know that I was bound for Faridabad. He informed me, in his Haryanvi dialect, that he was going to Ballabhgarh. For the uninitiated, Ballabhgarh is adjacent to Faridabad and the same metro train has to be taken to reach the destination. He revealed that this was the first time he would be taking the metro.

Unlike the etiquette that chains an urban guy, this simpleton opened up about his experiences to a stranger like me rather instantly. He castigated the metro authorities and thereafter the government of the biggest Indian state for demanding Rs 10 from him for the essential act of peeing. He declared that everyone in that state is a ‘thief’, and out to fleece the common people, and that his home state Haryana is so much better in these respects. He gleefully told me that he had quarreled with the guy demanding ten rupees from him and managed to avoid the payment. With these savings, he intends to have two ‘mirchi kachoris’ from a vendor in Ballabhgarh.

He sat at some distance from me on the train, but I kept peering at him intermittently. He was moving his palm from the shoulder down his hands. Alighting at Kashmere Gate, I lost track of him. When I descended a level and was heading towards the platform for the next metro to Faridabad, I again caught sight of him, asking people about the way to the Ballabhgarh platform. I beckoned him to follow me. He was happy to see me again, and readily started following me. I took the escalator to go to the next lower level. Still, two more levels have to be descended. After a while, when I had taken the escalator, I looked back and saw him struggling and uneasy with the downward movement of the automated device. I could not foresee it; else I would have done the handholding bit. Watching his bumbling act could have easily provided fodder to comic actors like Jacques Tati and Mr. Bean. I told him to balance himself with a hand at one of the sides and to stand still. He did as told and managed to reach the floor beneath.

Still, a floor has to be descended. At this level, there was an option to use an escalator and a flight of steps downwards. Seeing his earlier experience, I suggested he take the steps. He felt so relieved and immediately went down breaking into a jig towards the end. Some fellow commuters on the escalator who saw him go down the steps made a comment on his earlier act on the escalator. I told them that this was his first experience of using the escalator.

I showed him the platform from which he could take the metro. I told him to skip the one for Badarpur and take the one for Raja Nahar Singh. “Woh kaise pata chalega?” (How would I Know), he asked. As I was about to reply, I saw a train bound for Raja Nahar Singh arrive at the platform. I told him to board the same.

When I alighted at my stop, he was still sitting in a corner engrossed in his own world. I hope he could manage to get down to his destination. Such encounters are refreshing to have to experience the feelings of a section of society still untouched by the grip of modern automation.


More by :  Subhajit Ghosh

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