God’s own country to my own city

Well, we were in the last day of our trip (with no return tickets yet:)) and took a early morning bus to Thrissur to attend a friend’s marriage. We reached Thrissur at around 9.30, had breakfast and asked for the marriage hall. None of the auto walas knew where the hall is and I was not able to reach my friend too. Initially my friend had told me that any one in Thrissur town would know where that hall is. I could immediately recollect one of Singara velan’s dialog. Kamal would ask “Ennaya mano veedu unakku theriyadha. Chinna kozhandhaya kaetta kooda theriyum nnu sonnar”. Autowala replies “Naan enna chinna kozhandhaya?”. Anyways, after roaming around for 20 minutes we finally got an autowala and we were in the hall when it was just opened by the contractors who were arranging things for the marriage. The bride, groom, relatives…mmhmm…no sign of them yet and it was like 11.30 when finally they came. I didn’t know that mallus keep their marriage timing this late. Back in TamilNadu it is before 10 O clock at any cost.

We spent like 45 more minutes, wished the couple, took a pic too:) We got the next available bus and came back to Chalakudy. Rukku wanted to shop those mallu set sarees and so we took Unni along with us and we got like some 10 such sarees. Rukku had a long list of women to whom he had to present. I just had my sister:) From there we went straight to Unni’s house and met his family, gave one of those set sarees to his wife as our token of appreciation. We then sat in a near by shed owned by Unni. We had, say, one hour chat with Unni and his friends. Unni as promised gave a ticket to us. We were surprised that he could get us a ticket. At the same time, there was a catch. The ticket was booked in some other person’s name and we would be traveling in their name. The ticked didn’t have Souther Railway printed in it. It had some local jewellers name printed instead. Unni said I have travel on “Dixon” name and Rukku has to travel on “Nirmal” name. We got their approximate age details too. We were initially skeptical about the whole thing as this is completely illegal and railways can punish us for this. But then we decided to take a risk as we didn’t have any other option; all buses to Chennai too were booked.

The train was at 6.45 and we packed up our things and met Unni at the bus stand at 5 O clock types. In fact we have to board the train only at Thrissur, so we have to travel again to Thrissur and that would take solid 50 minutes at least. So we bid adieu to Unni, gave him some more money for the help he extended. In fact we took his contact number too so that we could keep in touch; the kind of help he extended during this trip to some strangers is really immense. We wouldn’t have done so many things in those last 3 days if we had said a big no to the autowala who approached us when we landed in Chalakudy. With that, we got out of Chalakudy with loads of memories and reached Thrissur well before the train time. We checked the PNR status and got to know the seat number and coach number. The ticket didn’t have that info too, some alpha-numeric code was scribbled in that. By this time, me and Rukku had rehearsed the answers we might have to give to the ticket inspector if we get caught. We like rehearsed some 3-4 times before we got in to our coach. The train is actually coming from Trivandram and it already had so many people boarded.

There was this mallu guy who recently got transferred to Chennai and is shifting his family there. He occupied rest of the seats in our bay and we started talking. After some time he asked our name and Rukku promptly replied “Nirmal”. He then looked at me and I was like “uh”…Wat the heck, I forgot the name I am supposed to travel in and I was doing a look up of my Christian name index. Jacob, Jackson, Philip, James….nope I am not able to get it. That guy was still looking at me and I said “I’m sorry”. He then said “I asked your name”. And I am like, yeah, well, yes it is Raghu and turned on to my left to get a stare from Rukku. We continued the chat for some more time after which we excused ourselves for some fresher. Rukku was firing me and till then I hadn’t recollected the name. He was asking me if I couldn’t look at my palm to know the name….it was written in Capital Times New Roman font 14… “Dixon”. We then hoped that the ticket inspector would come after this guy had gone for sleep. And we were talking about all possible consequences this could led us into if the inspector finds out or this guy protests. Even if both of them didn’t have a problem, how would I react when this guy over looks me when I say to the inspector that my name is “Dixon” . We even thought if “Dixon Raghu” or “Raghu Dixon” would make sense… 🙂

Finally we decided to face the situation as it unfolds and had our dinner peacefully. By this time this mallu guy was preparing his kid and wife to sleep and ticket inspector had come to our compartment. We were again preparing ourselves to all possible questions from the inspector. The ticket didn’t have southern railways, no coach number or seat number mentioned there, we are traveling on some other’s name and we have one person to testify that my name is not Dixon…The inspector got our ticket, he marked something in his sheet, scribbled something in our ticket and went to next bay. Ufff, that was it, that just was it…We had a hi-5 and it was like…hey mallu..cmon..talk me…talk to the hand… 🙂 We had a small conversation with him where he was saying how people get tickets somehow from Chalakudy. Like there would be some broker who would block all tickets at Chalakudy and would then sell it for a premium in black market. Everything unfolded in front of us as to what Unni had actually done and why the inspector didn’t ask anything. We thought what we did was wrong but consoled ourselves seeing two people lying in the floor in our bay. Yes, the unreserved guys have come in to our compartment and the inspector didn’t even bother to question them…This is India Inc…

With that note we went to sleep with loads of memories. What started off as an adhoc trip with no idea on what places to visit, with just two of us, we have traveled many places with just public transport. We had used different modes of transport, got to know about these places and most of it the experience you get when you interact with the local people. Amongst all these what stands on top is that we made many friends in this trip. We learned so much from them. Like how the cab driver from Pollachi to Top slip drives more than 48hrs continuously with just a 4 hour break to support a small family. Still he had so much values attached with him and customer service was on top when he took us for the trip. The guide at Parambikulam couldn’t send his kids to school because the school fees is 480Rs annually and he cannot afford that; the tourism department gives him 50Rs per visitor he takes along. The autowala who took care of everything from taking us to Adhirampalli to arranging a ticket back to Chennai, he got us introduced to all his friends and family and we were talking like childhood friends…

There is so much in the world out there…You just gotta step out of your home.

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