Spices Of Life
The whiff of air heavy with the smell of raw onions and lemons along with the shrill voice of the hawker jolted me back to my senses. After all these years, I realized that I was traveling by train and that too by sleeper class.
I rolled my eyes as I cursed my fate over my inability to get a ticket in the AC compartment even after some serious persuasion with the TTE. I checked my bag for the millionth time, it was a Sleeper compartment after all, this was the least I could do to ensure my poor luggage’s safety.
I shuddered with surprise as I heard an old gentleman give out a loud grunt while peacefully snoring away in a corner with an open mouth where as on one side a small family with emaciated parents and a bony little girl with large eyes were quietly having their meal from a tiffin box.
The sound of the train dancing on the tracks seemed to follow the rhythm of an old Bollywood song. I was still irritated though, at the loud chattering between a group of middle aged men on topics ranging from Modi to mongrels. The humid weather added to my woes, along with people with no definite expressions who came in from nowhere and occupied empty seats and sat there till the TTE appeared.
I laughed to myself as I saw them escape slyly. The maddening crowd, the long queue of hawkers selling everything from key chains to pirated novels, the air heavy with the smell of fried cutlets and the countless colorful shades of nature that I witnessed from my open window prompted me to smile with delight.
The sleeper class was such a colorful place, I thought looking at the unpretentious humans who not veiled in the air of sophistication. The fits of anger, the hints of affection, the sly escape, the passionate banter, the tired sleep and the loud grunts during sleep were all real and that precisely made the entire experience so vivid.
Being at the window seat, I looked out to find a lone brook that had emerged out of a patch of wilderness. My lips broke into a smile at that moment of serendipity. After a lot of pretending I was smiling from within and out of happiness, I even ordered a spicy chaat from the hawker, to celebrate the true spice of life which I tasted in the sleeper class.