Feb 11, 2010

Oct 13th 1996 G.T. Express Memories

My previous post from my journal entry brought back some memories of the Delhi trip and the GT express journey on Oct 13th 1996. To share some:

* I had just completed my Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) and had cleared a written exam for a Govt. job and was called for an in person interview at Delhi.
* I was travelling with my Mom - which was much fun. We talked, laughed, read, slept and enjoyed the journey.
* When we arrived, I felt very out of place in Delhi and was literally at a loss for word - as I didn't know Hindi and they wouldn't speak English.
* For the first time in my life, I felt like a foreigner in my own country. Hated the Tamil Nadu politicians as they had banned Hindi in Tamil Nadu. Though I had taken up private lessons for Hindi, mine was only bookish - reading knowledge. Comprehending spoken Hindi was above and beyond my skillset.
* We visited one of Amma's old student who prepared a very nice South Indian meal for us
* The interviewers asked me "Hindi malum?" I said, "Thoda, thoda" which they found to be very funny. (This has been edited to respect the elders!)
* To make matters worse, my head was so itchy (from lice infested train pillows/sheets) that I was constantly scratching my head with a pencil during the interview...
* The person at the travel reimbursement counter suggested even if I get the offer I should consider twice before accepting it as getting trasfer back to Tamil Nadu would never be possible (he was trying for more than a decade he said)
* Did some shopping in Delhi streets and got cheated many times as we didn't speak Hindi. Amma knew Hindi well, but she was a little slow in understanding the numbers (price) so we were sold at higher prices and they wouldn't let us walk away without buying... I was very scared of the merchants for the very first time.
*Amma hadn't slept much the previous night at Delhi as she did not feel safe at the hotel room where we stayed
* When we got back to the train station for the return, we bought a comb from a gypsy lady and I started cleaning my head off the lice at once. Oh! What a relief it was!
In our return journey we bought some oranges in Nagpur and to our dismay as the train moved when we opened the basket it was all rotten oranges. Not even a single good fruit! We couldn't beleive how someone could fool someone like that...
* What I love about GT express is that it is this one long train where you could walk thru the compartments from one end to another. This was my favorite passtime and I visited the cafe boogie often to grab some snacks or magazines or something.
* During one such 'walk' I saw this familiar face smiling at me. When I got closer it was Jesudin whom I knew from Sunday school. He was now a dentist and returning back from an interview as well. I was so thrilled to see him and exchanged few words. When I got back home, I shared the news with my close friend Victory who was a Doctor and suggested she marries him. Though she did not show much interest then, three years later they both got married!! They are both well established doctor/dentist in Tirunelveli now.
* There was some kind of railway strike going on so our train was delayed reaching the destination - not by an hour or two - but a whole day! - yes, 24 hours!! Can you imagine that?!
* The long delay and the extra heat through Andra Pradesh drained some cheer & energy out of us, but inspite of all that it was the best journey I remember...

Some G.T. Facts:
A great train, popularly known as the Grand Trunk (GT) Express, runs between Chennai and New Delhi. It covers a distance of 2184 kilometers or about 1360 miles in 35 hours. It is one of the oldest trains having been introduced in 1929. It has a capacity to accommodate some 1400 persons and runs daily through the main line that runs from the south to the North-between the two important metropolitan cities, Chennai and the capital of India, New Delhi.

Route Map:


Amrit said...

Once again well written though I don't agree with some parts of it. I am surprised by the unprofessionalism of people in the interview. I did not think it was that bad. Most people in Delhi speak English and operate in English at the work place. It is possible that people on street or taxi drivers don't speak good English.

NRIGirl said...

First of all - it is our fault that we don't speak Hindi. As an Indian we should - must - know Hindi. It was the local vendors with whom we had difficulties communicating.

Amrit said...

Hindi is one aspect. I don't think you have to speak Hindi as an Indian. It is not mandatory.

I am more amazed at unprofessional manners of people interviewing you..paan..

Bikramjit Singh Mann said...

I dont want to moan but i felt a outsider when i visited hyderabad and chennai.. i used to have a big turban and beard .. often called oye sardar.. which was insulting..

and at one stage i came to blows with someone ALmost till the police man intercepted ..
so what i want to say is we are indeed strangers in our own country.. courtsey our political leaders who would not want us to unite and have kept us broken into states, castes etc...

Did you get the JOB... :)

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