I looked around me, a middle aged Gujarati couple, two bachelors and me. I was happy. The presence of the couple gave me lot of comfort.
I was seated in the Konark Express bound for Mumbai. I had an interview scheduled and I was traveling alone by sleeper class. Though my father was never comfortable with me traveling alone but then I had made him remain at home. If I wanted an independent life, I had to learn to travel alone.Way back in the late 90s, private airlines were just an IDEA. And there was no reason to fear, as such I was not so pretty that anyone would try to molest me and even if anyone tried, I had my knife and chilly powder. 😛
A guy snored from the top of the berth and I yawned but we had to wait till the TTE arrived. We adjusted our luggage.Though traveling alone, I had a lot of luggage. Amma always had something to send to her other daughter in Mumbai and I was the willing porter. Meanwhile the Gujju anunty requested me to take the middle berth and I agreed and after the TTE left, we slept.
Morning we all settled down to our routines. The couple chatting, the two men with a game of cards and me with a book. Sometime later the couple opened their tiffin box. It was big and round and obviously had a lot of goodies. She opened one box and asked me to take but I declined. Gone were the days when co-passengers shared their food, now is the time when we worry that the food may be drugged.
And I took out my parcel of idli-chutney. But the aroma…the aroma of fafdas and dhoklas and green chutney was such that the bachelors left their seat and went somewhere and me…even with my breakfast of idlis was unsatisfied.
I tell you the aroma of food can make you quite frustrated.
After sometime the people in the side berths left their seat and a Bengali couple took their place. Lunch time, the Bengalis took out their dabba and the Gujaratis theirs. There was such a medley of aromas of luchis, curries, mishti doi and puri, aloo subji, and what not that my vegetable biryani looked bland.
Dinner was an assault I tell you. Gone was my determination of succeeding in the interview, gone was the joy of meeting my sis, at that point I just wanted a hot delicious meal.
The train reached Mumbai the next morning at 3.30 a.m. My Bhavaji (brother-in-law) was waiting for me. I knew my sister must be fast asleep, she gets hyper-acidity if she wakes up early and knew that my hunger pangs would not let me in peace. I asked, ‘Can we get anything to eat?’
He smiled and asked,’Will a vada pav do?’
‘Absolutely’, I cried out and we rushed to have one.