He: hello saar
Me: hello sir
He: I am srinivas rao
Me: I am anand patankar
He: going to rajkot or ahmedabad?
He: u r working?
Me: yes, I work for a hyderbad based company, had come for the annual sales meet, now going back. What about u? taking a vacation?
He: no saar what vacation… my wife’s brother is getting married, in rajkot, so we all r going there.
Me: that’s nice. What do u do for a living?
He: yes yes! We are living in Andhra, tadepalligudam
Me: no… I mean do u work or have ur own business
He: oh yes! I have government job, senior laboratory assistant in pesticide testing lab in tadepalligudam.
Me: nice….u belong to t.p.gudam?
He: no….my wife is from there, I am from west godavari district. Heyy srikumar….dont disturb uncle, and sit nicely!! He is my eldest son …srikumar. Srikumar….say hello to uncle.
( a 5 yr old srikumar gives me a sweet smile with twinkling eyes…but doesn’t say a word, he has a whistle in his mouth, and he had been intermittently blowing thru it at different air velocities, at times, sucking the air in, andin the process, creating weird noises, for the past 20 mins or so, ever since we left secunderabad stn )
me: hello srikumar how are you?
The response is a sharp and short whistle this time
He: hahaha, srikumar is always playing with whistle, he sees the traffic policeman everyday from our balcony, wants to become like him one day. And these are my twin children srikala, and sriresh. They both are 10 yrs old.
(The well behaved twins say a polite hello to me. They both are sitting at one of the window seats, chatting in hushed tones, giggling softly and looking out of the window. Very well behaved I thought……….most cpls have one child, and while trying for the second, sometimes get twins. Here it was reverse. Oops….why shud I bother? Different couples….diff equations….diff theories…..:)
me: you have nice names, all starting with SRI…..
he: (laughing loudly) yes…and my wife is sripriya.
Me: oh .. is it?
He: Mr anand, after the kids are born, I cannot call SRI loudly, otherwise everyone answers my call….(saying this , he lets out a rocking laughter)
( a demure, and docile looking mrs rao, is partly shy and partly embarrassed at the joke her hubby just cracked…. She just gives me a fleeting smile, and looks the other way )
he: how many kids do you have mr anand?
Me: just one son…rohan, he is 9 yrs old.
He: only one child but you should have one more child, and by god’s grace, it will be a girl, your son needs company
( oh god….not again, I say to myself…..but like the others, mr rao too was genuinely concerned )
me: yes I know….but then right from the beginning, we sort of decided to follow the Chinese system.
He: then you must be liking Chinese food very much!!…. Ha ha ha ha
(another booming laugh…….one more embarrassing smile cum look from madam SRI)
he: mr anand, what about your dinner?
Me: I will order curd rice, I love curd rice!
He: no no….dont order please, you have foodd with us. This railway foodd is not good. We have brought enough. But I don’t know whether you will like Andhra food.
Me: I have lived in Hyderabad for 3 months, in 1983, for a company training, and my sincere opinion is nothing can beat Andhra food, for sheer taste, flavour, and variety!!
(this genuine statement of mine, brought beaming smiles on the faces of rao couple, and lot of pride too. Our light banter cantered along, keeping pace with the train, and soon it was dinnertime. Now mrs rao took charge of things, out came a huge shopping basket from under the berth. And I had a wonderfully delicious Andhra dinner, homemade of course. We had pooris, kurma, curd rice, tamarind rice, and my favourite gongura pickle. Mr rao went on to explain at length how each recipe was prepared, while mrs rao’s satisfied face supported him with a sweet smile every now and then. This was the only time when srikumar removed the whistle from his mouth. After a lovely dinner, me and mr rao stood in the doorway, and chatted some more, as he wanted to smoke. Finally I said a goodnight to a very jovial and hospitable mr rao, and his family, and went to occupy my upper berth. During my numerous journeys, I have often come across some very warm and nice people, and I will always remember these few hours spent with this cheerful family from Andhra Pradesh.
As the secunderabad – rajkot express entered solapur station, srikumar said a goodnight to everyone in his own style, blowing a long and final whistle
Friday, March 9, 2007
He: hello saar