Have you ever felt that you should have had an experience much before than when it actually did happen?
A lesson you should have learnt earlier in life? Say probably, to make lesser mistakes, lesser painful ones later in life?
Or I’ll put it out loud, to have a better story at social gatherings?!
I feel that way now. In fact, what I’m experiencing now should have happened a decade back, at least good marks would be assured!
I’m at Sathya Sai Prashanthi Nilayam railway station in Andhra Pradesh. At 2.35am. Trying to ignore the stink of the public toilet of the Great Indian Railways while watching an uncle unwrap his inner wear from a dhoti to give the latter to his wife who feels the chills. More importantly, I’m waiting for a train scheduled to arrive at 7.30pm. Yup.
There’s a man who’s spouting phlegm from what I suppose is a nose. While I hear men peeing in the adjoining loo. Yup. The silence!
If you’re wondering why such dry descriptions: this is the essay I should have written when in school! For the countless students the Indian education system churns out everywhere and every year, none have escaped the mandatory “One hour at the Railway Station”.
I am no exception. Not only did I write these essays with less thanΒ  half a heart’s interest, I also made them up. Honestly, who didn’t?
That interesting lady in your essay from a night waiting at a station was actually Ruskin Bond’s creation. That girl with a flower basket was his too. The time you missed your train was probably your parents’ experience or the time someone left a bagful of money which you dutifully returned was something your tuition teacher read in the newspaper, and suggest you write it to make your essay “stand out”.
I had a standard one myself, where in the rush of a Mumbai local, I’m separated from my parents (which would never happen. We always travelled by road. Ha!), found by a police inspector who then takes me home to worried parents.Β  There! Happy endings! πŸ˜›
Unfortunately then, I didn’t have the wisdom of what I do today. It’s the middle of the night, I want an upper berth to sleep through the day!
All I get instead is a wailing baby, irate passengers talking of how the train wouldn’t arrive for hours, and an over stuffed man who farts at regular intervals. Or is that his snoring?!
Either way, a dead station in the middle of nowhere, accompanying sleepy grandparents, a jugal bandi of fart/snoring with wailing baby makes for so much better an essay, right? At least my English teacher would have laughed if not marked it the highest. Or is a child getting lost “stand out”?
Never mind. At least this blog post happened thanks to an actual wait at the station. πŸ™‚

5 thoughts on “Retrospect.

  1. Good post. As a child, I used to love watching deserted railway stations at night in the interior parts en route Delhi. And sometimes getting down to have a glimpse of the natural beauty we miss in the cities. But I have never experienced waiting at a station for an hour


  2. This was really good. It made me think of all the sugar coated essays without substance that I had churned out as a kid. Made me realize how much of a lie my whole school life was!

    How I wish I had a school of my own, where I could coach kids to see through things and write what they see.


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