The Chennai Effect

Me and my friend get into the train and there is a couple who just get in. The girl is pregnant and they don’t have a lower berth. I’m on a lower berth. They seem to be thinking they have two lower berths whereas they have none. The wife is worried like crazy. The husband is thinking that there is one lower berth but later realizes he has to go to the upper berth and the wife climbs to the middle berth. They could have asked me but I recently had a broken bone remember? I lie down on my lower berth, make myself comfortable and fish out “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. Then I fall asleep even as I’m reading…

Every possible derailment news story comes to my mind. I’m really worried in what position I’ll be stuck if there is a derailment. Can I really crawl out of where I would be? Will the driver know that certain compartments have got derailed or will he continue to drive the train and will I wake up in middle of the meadows. I have a disturbed sleep.

I wake up at 5.15 am promptly and do so many funny things like walking up and down, asking someone where the train is at present, etc. Then I wake my friend up at 5.30. We make such a lot of rustling bed clothes, ruffling covers and whispering and giggling that everyone else is up. Now everyone is looking daggers at us. We behave like nothing has happened and look outside the window with sly smiles. >:)

We get off the train and the hot air and smelly platforms remind me I’m back at the most horrid place on earth – Chennai. I’ll have more reminders. Me and my friend drag our luggage and find the prepaid auto stand. We should have walked half the distance home. Before we could go to the counter we have umpteen auto drivers trying to lure us away. We ignore them and get the prepaid tickets to our respective places. I go ahead and I forget to say bye to her. As soon as I go to the auto stand, I hear the auto men rain expletives at each other, simply for the fun of it. They seem to be having a ball calling my auto driver names in front of me. Irritation is beginning to show up in me. I get into the auto quietly. A few metres ahead there is a guy checking the prepaid ticket. And my auto driver makes some cheap comment about what I presumed was an intended vasectomy on the guy. By now, I was really pissed off.

I told the auto guy, “You and your friends are behaving very indecent.” And he said “Who?”. Then I said “You have been speaking swear words ever since I got into the auto”. The auto guy is perturbed.
The the following argument ensues:
Auto guy: They are my friends. This is how we talk.”
I: Don’t do that in front of me. I don’t have to put up with it.
Auto guy: This is like our home. You’re inside our home. You better behave the way we tell you to.
I:If I complain to the police that you’re all engaging in eve-teasing then you’ll get beaten up right inside your home.
Auto guy: We’re friends. We have been friends all our lives. We always speak like this.
I: Don’t you have some professionalism?
Auto guy: Your work style is different. Our work style is different.
I:Β  Then you change your work style.
Auto guy: (stops the auto) Madam! Please get off from the auto. If you can come quietly you come. No need to advise me.
I: I still think what you did is wrong and you’re trying to justify it.

He asks me for the prepaid ticket. I refuse to give it. I tear it in bits and put it inside my bag :-D. I get off the auto and take another auto for 12 rupees more. I have no regrets.

Back to my gloomy apartment I find there is a power cut. I heave my luggage up two floors and collapse on the sofa, gasping for breath.

Yeah baby! You’re back to the grind! πŸ™‚

16 thoughts on “The Chennai Effect

  1. I suppose you have experienced the essence of chennai – bad behaviour, bad auto drivers, bad climate and an extremely dirty train station. It is heartening to know that you find other places better, and this is the only thing which does not make the experience an anticlimax.

  2. You did the right thing. And I feel sad for all the other girls in Chennai who go through this everyday without protest.

    Now, looking at another angle, what if the auto driver is saying the truth? may be it wasn’t about u. πŸ™‚ Ok flame me!!! What I am trying to say is we start with the assumption “All auto drivers are bad and anything they do is bad” and its always down hill from there.

  3. Well Well,
    the line whch wud hav got me fumed was “ur in our home..”,
    wow man,
    people hav serious grudges against IT professionals i thnk,thy thnk v earn a lot,are spoiled brats and wht else.

  4. Strange auto drivers and strange people too who dont have decency to inform friends while leaving bangalore.not even a single call.

  5. There was no one around who could give up a lower berth for a pregnant woman?! Where is the humanity! Someone lost the chance to say “a pregnant woman gave berth to me!” (pun intended heh heh.)

    IMHO you were out of your place to tell the auto driver how not to speak… I mean, he wasn’t abusing _you_ or anything. Even we use abusive language while talking to friends, and sometimes without thinking about other people who might be within earshot. I wouldn’t like it if a total stranger came up to me and asked me not to be so rude to my friends.

    Of course, he shouldn’t have been as impudent as to say something like “you better behave the way we tell you to.” There was only one way it could go from there — downhill. And it did.

  6. You mean someone lost the chance to say “I gave berth to a pregnant woman”! Of course I did. I gave her the wide berth!

    No the auto driver was obscene.. and they were a bunch of hooligans.. I did not feel safe with him.

  7. Indeed, β€œI gave berth to a pregnant woman” is what I originally intended to say. But if you exchange berths with her, technically hasn’t the pregant woman given you (her) berth? πŸ™‚

  8. About the auto driver, well, probably. There are ‘bad eggs’ in all baskets. Maybe you just had the misfortune of choosing that one.
    But part of me empathises with him for we’ll never really get to hear his part of the story now, will we?

  9. You can probably still try to find him… go to the Chennai Central Railway Station and he is the most abusive guy in the prepaid auto stand… :))

    As for the pregnant woman, woe man, I have a twin-fractured collar bone and could not risk climbing up to another berth anyway (or falling from there).. Besides they never asked me!

  10. I wasn’t saying you had to offer her your berth; I read the part where you said you’re recovering from an injury. I was just wondering why no one in a compartment full of people would offer their (lower) berth to a woman who was carrying. Or maybe it was just that no one noticed, or that the couple was too proud/embarassed to ask. But anyway, I guess it turned out OK in the end.

  11. Ah! Got it now.. actually that place had two more lower berths but the people in those two berths came late, by which time this lady had climbed to the top! And yeah they asked nobody!

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