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Thursday, April 13, 2006

JANPATH JERKIN


THE JANPATH JERKIN !!

Jammu railway station,platform no 1,wore a festive look that cold and dreary December night .
None can beat Indians for adapting to any situation and making themselves at home anywhere ,so the platform was a second home to the many who waited for the two hour late Pooja Express to steam in .
Colour and cacophony ruled the place .
Whole families were strewn across on spread out carpets and bedsheets in several stages of relaxation .
They talked ,shrieked ,spat ,smoked ,shouted ,ate,drank,cried,guffawed,whimpered,cursed,slept moaned ,and did anything that could be done in a public place within the limits of decency well almost ..
It was an anthropologists delight and a claustrophobics nightmare .Desmond morris could have written a volume or two if he was there.
Even food was being cooked in a gas stove by a kashmiri women with stretched legs who stirred the pot langorusly .
An air of resignation and oriental patience reigned .
We were probably the only beings to be annoyed at the delay and kept looking at our watches officiously exhibiting our southern roots .
We were going back after an exhilarating but exhausting holiday in Kashmir and were raring to get into the train.
The delay was due to security reasons as the coaches had to be checked for bombs and other assorted gifts from terrorists .
Trigger happy military police and CRPF men scanned the multitude for suspicious moves .The cold was biting and the crowd was enveloped in a cocoon of its own warmth .
Announcement were repeated like Goebellian utterances lulling ones senses to stupefaction .

The train finally trundled into the platform creating a flurry of events like a lit dynamite fuse .confusion now metamorphed to chaos as the flotsam lying horizontally changed to vertical mode and flung towards the train .
The ensuing melee saw thrown suitcases and caught children .
Seats were grabbed on muscle power and the law of the jungle prevailed even in reserved coaches .We came to know that this wasnt unusual in north India.
We were lucky when we got our berths intact though the aisles filled up quickly with huge trunks and huger sardars.
The train reluctantly leftJammu like a parting lover and we stretched our tired bones on the berth and was fast asleep in no time lullabied by the movement of the train .
Around midnight reality bit me as a bushy hand of a burly sardar railway police rudely shook me awake ,he had a menacing rifle and a lathi that meant business .
I was ordered down for a search and I readily obeyed .
He patted me all over ,asked me to unbutton my jerkin,he then dug into its pockets searching for some evidence to nail poor me ,ha he said as he felt something deep in a pocket ,I had no idea of what it could be till it came out ,it was a black woolen gloves which I had thought was lost and a slow grin surfaced on my face full of relief which didn’t go well with the sardar .He was annoyed that nothing more incriminatory could be detectd from his search .He the took out the contents of my wallet and studied the ATM and CREDIT cards in detail .Finally he stumbled on my IMA life membership card which substantiated my statement that I was a doctor from down south .
He apologized sheepishly “sorry saaab ,aap sogay good nite”
I climbed into my berth in my jerkin and lost myself to sleep in cold oblivion .
Fate revisited shortly as I could hear voices and on peeping under the hood I could see the sardar now with an officer in tow who kept pointing at me and said search him.
I wondered what made me resemble terrorists ? because whenever I stared in the mirror all I saw was a spectacled timid scholar with no qualification for a man of violence but these policemen didn’t agree with me obviously .
Luckily for me the sardar policeman told his officer” nai saab oh madrasi ductur hoon searh hogaya “
“Well” muttered the officer “seeing his jerkin and hood I was about to shoot him”,and left the place .
My heart did a somersault ,one never knew that the jerkin I bought in Janpath Delhi for a bargain would land me almost in the obituary columns .
Thank god for small mercies !
After this the rest of the journey was a pleasure .

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