Our train journey to Bangalore a couple of years ago was filled with random photography sessions at random halts the train seemed to take. At one of the stations, however, the journey completely changed.
The constant chug-chug of the train had gotten into our system and melancholy was kicking in. To avoid that, you have to do something to keep your mind off it. And as is usual on such long train journeys, the focus shifts on everything else, including but not limited to, other passengers, passers-by, people boarding and alighting, random discussions, etc.
That is what we did too. We shared a few moments with our co-passengers, striking up casual banal conversations with them. At one of the halts, a person boarded the train and found some space at one of our berths, while we were outside stretching our legs. Even after the train moved, he did not seem to move. So, bored that we were, we started conversing with him. Though we were in a large group sitting together, taking up almost two sections of the bogey, this guy managed to find some space to squeeze himself into.
Perplexed, we made conversation (read: tried to), wondering why he was neither going to his seat, nor showing any indications to want to do so. The answer presented itself after a while of prodding and observation. This guy spoke only Kannada and did not understand a word of any other language, was totally inebriated to the point of stinking and was travelling without a ticket, constantly checking for the presence of the Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) to avoid getting noticed.
The language barrier and the resulting communication, however, was hilarious. We aren’t saints, I admit; so it was probably not very ethical or moral on our part to exploit this facet of communication more. But we did it anyway. Sue us.
Apparently, the only word both of us seemed to understand was “Yadgir”, which was his destination. So, till Yadgir, which was a couple of hours away, we engaged in meaningless yet hilarious conversation, with us asking him questions in Marathi, to which he replied in Kannada and vice versa. Our attempts to converse in Hindi and English also failed, so we continued using Marathi, despite the evident miscommunication.
The fun part was this: not a single exchange between us seemed to be resonant with the question or the answer. Here was a sample conversation that seemed to be closest to our understanding.
Us (Marathi): Where are you headed?
He (Kannada): Yadgir.
Us: Don’t you have a seat to go to?
Us: Yes, we understood that. You are going to Yadgir. But are you going to sit here till we get there?
He: Yadgir… (some Kannada)… teacher… (some more Kannada)… Yadgir
Us: What are you saying? You are a teacher in Yadgir?
He: (some rapid blabbering in Kannada accompanied by the unmistakeable instability of drunkenness) Yadgir…
Us: But why are you drunk? Do you have a family at Yadgir?
He: (something something)… Train… (something) Yadgir…
At some point, we pondered on the point of all this. We wondered whether we should stop bothering him and let him be. But, bored that we were in search of something to do, we continued to pester him with questions and received the same or irrelevant answers. And this was only the sample of a long yet not-so-sophisticated discussion we had with him.
Neither did he answer or understand a single question we asked nor did we answer or understand a single question he asked. Yet, we continued talking as if we had established a long-standing rapport, engaging in banal chit-chat to consume time till dinner and bed-time. When he alighted at Yadgir, we seemed to have lost our closest friend; we returned to our sombre moods and went to sleep soon after dinner.
The next morning, we awoke to the endless wait of the arrival of Bangalore. But, thankfully, we had a topic to talk about – the previous night’s conversation. So, the entire morning’s conversation was about the conversation we had had. The evening was spent in frolicking laughter and the morning was spent in reminiscing those moments.
A couple of random clicks later, the increased activity in the train informed us of the impending arrival of Bangalore. We saw it as the onset of a new beginning. Our energy levels, high because of the good start to the morning, carried us into Bangalore with ease and comfort.
As the train crawled into the station, it was the end of our long 20+ hour journey. The train meandered its way to Bangalore, but we had made the most of it. The journey was long yet fun, exhausting yet entertaining. Yadgir, the destination that made our journey worthwhile, was not ours but meant a lot to us. No wonder then that it was “Yaadgaar” (memorable) Yadgir.
The journey had ended. Or it had just begun…