Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The boondocks saints in Kerala Express

It is afternoon; I am still wearing the socks, jacket and the cap that were a protection from the cold weather in Nagpur. It has not been long since I was seen shivering on the platform of the railway station. Some beautiful women surrounding me as if they are the official white cats appointed by the Maharashtra government, slim, no six packs. One of them looked seriously into my eyes, as if I was the one who stole her favourite lipstick that made her lips appear chapped. I said in a feeble voice with jazz effects mixed, “Excuse me”. The women gave me a narrow path to pass ahead to reach my seat at the end of the compartment.

I am in Kerala Express, back from home, departing parents and sisters with sweet memories that should last until a year.

I am with my Aunt sitting near the window watching the fields and mountains. We crossed Ballarshah few hours ago and entered Andhra Pradesh. The train is late by 5 hours, came a voice from a mouth whose owner is an old man, wearing a chest attached half-T sweater, bald head with a thick moustache always busy making malicious facial expressions. Besides him sits a women who always smiles half-heartedly, wearing an old aged, downtrodden socks and a brown coloured shawl covering her fat body. We are hardly 5-10 people in the compartment with no special amusement other than mouth looking each other. I always see three girls, the size of “Nayanthara”, the looks of “Sreedevi” and the voice of “Aishwarya Rai” walking from one end to the other, gossiping, looking periodically at our seat as if there is something they see for the first time. I think they were looking at the old-uncle, trying to guess his age each time they cross the space. :)

I was tired watching golmaal three and I thought that sleeping in the afternoon would be a good idea and I tried it.

Kzang, ghroom, whom, khadak, heard in the ear and the brain, signalled eyes to open the shutter. The eyes were open and I could see complete dark around me. Am I in a hell? I understand I am not a very wise person but I have done no bad to anyone to be in hell and that too when I am sleeping in a train. I was wrong; these were a dozen of people dressed in black, hairs black and appearance light black. They are the pilgrims to Sabarimala and they attacked the seats as if their Akbar, in their memory built it. They were speaking alien languages resembling Malayalam or Tamil with “u” added to every sentence. I heard one saying “randu, eithu, moonu” and I understand it was no cursing but searching their seating locations. They were soon seen everywhere, on the top, bottom, like monkeys holding the iron rods with hands and legs. Most of them had their beard grown and they were referred “Swami” (saint).

Zzz... Came twice from a swami whose stomach was bounding each time he exhaled the air out of his lungs. He was 5feet 5 inches, small round face, with German Sheppard beard, fair in complexion, wearing half-tight black shirt and black Bermuda that was not worth than 50 hard-earned grand. He was bouncing from one side to another like a teddy bear gifted to a three-year old girl on her birthday. They started chanting “Swamiye sharanam aiyappa” and then went to sleep. It was hard to sleep all the time and thus the remaining passengers moved to a new seat where we could sit comfortably.

My Sonata has its minute needle on 9 and the hour needle on 6 when I saw people rushing to the end of the compartment. They were all half-dressed (or naked) with a 2 meter cloth covering the portion below their stomach and above their knee. Most of them had soap and a plastic bottle cut from the middle. They were planning to bath in the shaking, trembling, unhygienic toilet of the train. The ones who completed their “banjara bath” started to makeup with 4-5 types of bhasm, chandan and sindoor. It was not over but started following the long prayer sessions and drying celebration. The train was decorated with the black dhoti, half pants and undergarments of the swami’s. Flowers ranging from rose to jasmine were scattered on the floor with apple and groundnut waste as an added effect.

It is hard to explain where we were; sabarimala, pamba or a train? Swamis were not going to leave us and thus they started their second session of bath and toilet festival, followed by normal prayers and “chaddi decorations”.

I departed them with hand waving and over acting moments at Ernakulam Junction. I would remember this journey and this would help me plan my tour :)


  1. Dear Abhi,
    Good Evening!
    Wishing You A Very Happy New Year!
    Today I thught of you and you're here!Long Live!
    Hey,your sissy looks cute!I forgot her name!
    YOu must be really charged now with long holidays,Amma's hath ka khana and a real comfortable stay!
    Don't forget to watch Makara Jyothi on 14th evening!Here Ayyappa Temple festival is starting.
    Religion and ritulas...please spare them.
    Wishing you a beautiful evening,

  2. Ayyappa devotees were usually there in the train in this time of year. In the photo why you are looking serious standing with your sister. Hope you had a wonderful time with your family.

  3. HaHa!!Great spectator!!!

  4. :) back home and back to schedule is it!!

    Nice post and looks like you had a different experience this time than the usual one with movies.

  5. @Anu - It is my sister Anjali. I encounter with a pimple two days ago and dont wonder why, there are so many beautiful women on this space thinking about me ;)

    The taste of Amma's food is still on my taste buds, not that I havent brushed my teeth or cleaned mouth since then. :)

    Yes I am looking forward to witness makara jyoti. Thanks for the sincere comments Anu.

  6. @Swathi - Yes we expect Aiyappan's this month, but the rituals they follow in the train and unsahikyable.

  7. @Swathi - I think I need to be a bit serious for my sister is too mischevious. She was trying to add two horns behind my head even while capturing this photograph.

  8. @Lakshmi Rajan - Swamiye Sharanam Aiyappa. :)

  9. @Neeya - Thanks. All I know to write is what I see, I remember. I am no way an expert like you friends.

  10. @Nithya - Thanks boss! The journey was hectic and I was not confirmed in the AC coach so had to choose sleeper this time, that avoided movies :(

  11. lovely post, your sis is beautiful...

  12. @Sushma - Thanks. I will convey it to my sister.

  13. Hi Abhilash After a long time I am here in your blog.How are you? I have almost the same experience.. any ways nice post.

  14. had a good laugh reading this man :)

  15. Nice post ..Ur sister is beautiful...

  16. Your sister is so pretty! She has the smile of sweet.

  17. Abhilash, That train journey description was wonderful, especially about the 'chaddi decorations'.

  18. @sreesha - Thanks

    @Angies - Let she not read this or she would imagine herself as the most beautiful woman in the world. :)

  19. @chitra - Thanks Chitra. Nice to hear that you liked the post.

  20. Hope you had wonderful time with ur family...train travel sometimes really sucks'...we can't plan by the calender too'...sometimes Polical parties swarm the compartments in a similar way' right! Indeed, well-written post, hilarious descriptions.


Thank you for your valuable comments. I do respect your opinions.

All the posts are about my life with a pinch of comment on social activities and new discoveries happening around us.

The purpose is to impart knowledge and welcome comments for correction on views, since these are from a single spectator.

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