Saturday, May 15, 2010

the wedding countdown begins.

I was pinching myself. God please say it’s a nightmare.
There I was standing on the railway platform with my sister and twelve bags! Twelve bags! I felt like the sheiks in Dubai with many wives, many many children and many many many bags – minus the many wives and the many many children.
I had suggested that we book it in the luggage van. Everyone looks patronizingly at me. I am tired of hearing people say, “ This is not America. Things are done differently here.”
It was no one’s fault. The gifts kept adding and so did the suitcases. The wedding is in Bhopal but we had to order quite a few things from Gwalior.
My sister was getting all agitated. Shatabdi stops only for three minutes. How on earth do we board with all this luggage. I assured her not to worry. But, I hate to admit, my legs were feeling like jelly.
The BSP vicepresident was coming from Delhi. His supporters far outnumbered our suitcases. A state minister was going from Gwalior. How would we muscle our way in? I was repenting. We should have taken some low profile train. This was turning into a disaster. Sister had already suggested that we take a taxi. But the heat felt like a dragon breathing. I was just not mentally prepared to travel around ten hours by road.
Finally we did make it by a few nano seconds. The BSP leader made it quick. He seemed pretty eager to dunk his head into the waiting marigold garlands and the minister who was boarding the train was patience personified. His attendant and the gunmen , however, stared at us angrily.
There was a muslim woman on the station wearing a burqa. I had felt pity for her then for wearing it in that sweltering heat. Now I felt jealous. I could have swapped her burqa for one of my suitcases. I am glad the few foreigners who were in , thought it funny but not funny enough. The stray dog on the road caught their fancy. Thank you mangy dog. If you ever make it to the cover of any magazine I promise I will buy it.
I have one suggestion for our Railways minister . The over head bins are just not enough. Many foreigners who visit the Taj and orchha carry huge bags too. Maybe , like the british trains, a luggage compartment with shelves can be added near the doors. This would make the travel much more comfortable.
The TTE was a pleasant man. He asked me cheerfully in Marathi if all the things were onboard safely. I sheepishly explained that it was my niece’s wedding. He nodded in total understanding. He had a daughter too. Girl’s wedding works like magic in India. Even strangers offer to help. That is one thing that separates us from the rest of the world. The caring and sharing.
Whether it is a happy occasion or the death of some one , the Indianness binds us all.
We stacked our stuff on two vacant seats. The TTE assured that the train will almost empty at Jhansi and we will have at least half the compartment to ourselves. I was grinning. My stupidity was a blessing. So finally it turned out to be a good decision.
I must compliment the Railways on the quality of food and the crockery. It has improved tremendously. The waiters are very warm and friendly.
We again felt the dragon’s breath as we alighted in Bhopal. There was not much tension now as this was the last stop.
I thanked my stars that I have only one niece. It’s now just Another nine days to go for the wedding.
Once the celebrations are over, the enormity would be sink in.
Onal’s pretty younger sister in law has left for the USA to pursue her masters leaving a void in their home. Soon Onal would be filling that void leaving a larger one at home.

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