Monday, September 24, 2012

Staying a Night at Nagpur Railway Station! An Incredible Journey of a mother 2


It is the second part of the travelogue of a journey I accompanied with my son to Delhi via Hyderabad via Mysore. In the first part (kindly click here to read the first part: (An Incredible Journey of a Mother to the Heart of India), I was telling what happened to the ticket and why we booked the ticket first to Nagpur. When the train paused in Nagpur, the sun had already sunk in the Arabian Sea. The strange and fearful atmosphere stared at me. I could not realize anything, everywhere an alien language script laughed at me, strange people gazed and the whole railway system threatened me. My son was in a deep silent but he was pretending that a smile was there on his face always. I got down in to the platform with praising Allah. We travelled the half way to Delhi.

Nagpur, a land of Orange! The story of Nagpur also related to Delhi, Delhi sultanate and of course, Hyderabad Nizams.  Bhakt Buland initiated Nagpur city after he visited Delhi in the early 18th century and declared it as his capital. He was the Gond prince of the kingdom of Deogad in the Chhindwara district.  His successor Chand Sultan continued the work. As happened everywhere after the Chand Sultan in 1739, the princes fought each other for the throne and Raghuji Bhonsle, the Maratha governor of Berar, helped to restore the elder son to the throne. Raghuji Bhonsle camped there and intervened in 1743, and the control of Nagpur slowly passed on from the Gonds to the Marathas. 

It became the capital of the Bhonsles. With the Bhonsle dynasty came the vast class of cultivators in Vidarbha. Raghuji's successors lost some territories to the Peshwas of Pune and the Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1803, Bhonsles (along with their allies Scindias [Shinde] of Gwalior) at Assaye and Argaon (Argaum). In 1811 Pindaris attacked Nagpur. Bhonsles again lost to the British in 1817 and Nagpur came under British influence. In 1853 Raghuji III died without an heir to his kingdom. As a result, the city lapsed into British control under Lord Dalhousie's Doctrine of Lapse. In 1861, Nagpur became the capital of the Central Provinces. The advent of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIP) in 1867 spurred its development as a trade centre. After Indian independence, Nagpur became the capital of Madhya Bharat state (C.P. and Berar). In 1960, the marathi majority Vidarbha region was merged with the new state of Maharashtra and Nagpur was designated the second capital of Maharashtra state, alternating with Bombay as the seat of the Maharashtra state legislature.

However, my mind was troubling with the image of Nagpur I was getting from the newspaper reports that it is the head office of some extremist organizations. I was compelled to stay there a night! I did not know where my hotel room was booked. When I asked the room, his smiling turned a big laugh and it took two minutes to slow down, when he finished laughing, in a very low voice, he said, ‘we are luck, today we booked a huge room  with 24 hours electricity’. Therefore, I was happy, but scared, if I stayed that big room, the amount must be very high. . After few minutes, he turned me again and said,

‘Mom! Don’t be worry if say anything’

No. Not at all.

‘That huge room I booked is here, with these people!’
He pointed to the sleeper class waiting room.
The room was clean, the cleanest place I have ever seen. However, a huge number of people have already booked each place in that ‘huge room’ with 24-hour electricity.  A man was sitting before the room with a register to check whether we were upper class ticket owners. Moreover, outside of the room, there were flood of people staying here and there.

‘Now, we need to keep our luggage in the clock room’, saying this, he went in searching of a clock room.  The security was very strict, they checked the luggage carefully and gave us token and we kept the luggage in the clock room. When the heavy luggage from our shoulder removed, we felt very relieved without any burden.  ‘Now we can have something for dinner’.  We went outside. There the crowd was moving aimlessly as if they were paral fish in a stream. Everywhere people packed largely. I was thinking about myself, ‘A woman who came from a faraway place, here in a very strange place with her tongue tightened and feet trembling. Her only proof to believe she is in a Hindi speaking belt was her hand grabbing her son’s hand’! That thought tightened my hold his hand further. When he felt it, he turned and asked,
What happened?
Nothing’ I was thinking a story I learnt in school in my fourth standard about four poor animal friends’
‘Which story?’
‘Four animals, a cow, a mouse, a deer and tortoise, they were good friends, but all were very much dependents each other, they did not want to miss anybody, and being helpless and small animals they were scared about everything’
‘I know that story but why you think the story this time?’
‘Missing is painful’
‘Don’t worry, mom!, you know there are millions of people live in our India, and we are just two drops in this great ocean, I will stay with you always, and there is no question of missing. Hey mom, he is selling oranges, so we can have some oranges from him’

We did not think about the price of orange, because there is saying that if you want to eat apple from Kashmir, do not go to the shop but go to an apple tree and collect scattered apples underneath the tree. 
We went and asked that man the price of orange, the price was double of what I usually got from any shop in Kondotty! ‘What a world!’
We saw a restaurant there. When I saw the menu, I whispered in his ears,
Choru kittumo?, (Can I have rice?)
However, my sound was little high, then all people seemed to stare at me, I was afraid and looked at my son’s face.
He smiled and explained me.
Mom! You know we are far far away from our land, nothing will help us now here, our culture, food, language, dress, bed, house, nothing’

I agreed, ya, my dress has changed, look! I have never worn a churidaar for past many many years in my life, but now my dress is churidaar, my Malayalam, my house, everything I had given up in Kerala!
‘Therefore, when we were what we were not, then all our meaningful words will produce some other meaningful words’
He looked as if a philosophy teacher and I could not understand his words.
‘You know the word; choru in Hindi means thief, that’s why the hotel cashier looked at us! You might know the story of two Malyalees who went to a hotel in Delhi’
‘No, I don’t know’

Once Two Malayalees went to Delhi to participate in a party conference. When they were hungry, they went to a restaurant as we did now. They ordered two plates of poratta, and they did not get curry for sometimes, so one of the person shouted, chaar (curry in Malayalam), then the next moment, the waiter brought him four poratta, when seeing this, the other guy signed and said loudly, ‘che!’ (a sighing sound). The waiter again came with six poratta, when they got six more poratta, one friend, lost his temper and clamoured to the other friend, ‘Kazhutha! ivianeyokke ivideunnu aaattanam’  (Donkey! He should be ousted out from here) this time, with their surprise the waiter came with eight poratta! Again the other Malayalee was about to say something, then the other guy, pressed his mouth with his full force and said, don’t say anything, if you say any word, the waiter will bring you more and more poratta..’

I enjoyed that joke and kept in silent. He ordered something, and then I realized I was losing even my rice for at least two weeks.  The food was nice and tasty. Night was darkening more and more, and I saw more people were coming to get a space in each corner of the street, we walked back to the station, station was packed with the people, and anyhow I got a seat to sit there. Everywhere people spread their cloths and started to sleep. he asked me what I usually pray before going to sleep, I briefed up the prayers I usually do before going to the sleep, then he said to add one more thing to the prayer,
‘What?’
‘To not come TTR or checker to the station’
‘But, why we already have the tickets?
‘We have the ticket, but we are not allowed to enter the platform before four hours of the journey, our journey starts at 9.30 tomorrow morning!’, 

he continued, but don’t worry, our journey is not any ordinary trip, we are going to know the pulse of India, so everything should be welcomed in the journey. Each event will be an added experience in our journey. This journey is not for any destination, but it it’s destination is wherever we are led’
I looked at the people, they are very happy, and everybody has dreams, hopes, happy, so I also should be part of the sleeping mass beside me’ when a lot of thoughts flooded in mind, sleep visited my eyes gradually.

(English translation of a travelogue written by Maimoona Rahman KP )

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