Jan 6, 2009

Made for each other - I

Tony put his baggage under the seat, chained it and looked around appreciatively. A guy about his age, probably an IT employee, an elderly couple who looked like they were on a post-retirement vacation and a family with a kid, not too young. The father looked like he spent all his waking hours enriching some MNC. Everything looked fine except that the seat opposite him on the side berth was empty. Tony didn’t like empty seats.

He went outside to check the chart stuck on the train, and saw that the passenger on the opposite seat was due to board in the next station. “Ok, M 45, single guy”, he read, “not bad, not bad at all.”

As the train started, he went back to his seat, settled down, and opened a freshly bought magazine. He made for a perfect picture of the savvy tourist. But then, Tony had always been particular about his appearance.

The next station came and went, and there was no sign of the M 45 guy. Instead, a petite young lady walked in, dressed in expensive-looking clothes. Tony tried to look nonchalant, but it was difficult to stop staring at her. Tony checked himself, he didn’t want to be too conspicuous.


Two stations later, a shabbily dressed man entered and began passing around a pamphlet. “CONTRIBUTE GENRUSLY FOR NOBLE CAUSE”, screamed the title. The paper went on to describe that the man was collecting funds for a charity which ran a school for street children.

The young single guy just tossed away the paper to his side. The elderly couple passed it among themselves, and Tony could sense that they were inwardly debating whether the pamphlet was genuine or not. The family was pretending to be busy tending to the kid, and did not take the pamphlet.

Deciding it was time to act, Tony coolly took out two crisp five hundred rupee notes and summoned that guy. Immediately, the old man spoke up, “One thousand rupees? Young man, do you even know whether this guy is genuine?” “yeah, for all you know, this guy may be a cheat. After all, we come across so many fraudsters in this country!”, the father of the kid butted in. “Even if he is genuine, don’t you think one thousand rupees is a bit too much?”, the young single guy couldn’t stay out of the drama unfolding.

Tony observed, much to his consternation that the lady sitting opposite him did not even seem to notice. She was immersed in a thick novel, and he sensed that all his effort might go kaput.

“Sir, when you go to a temple and put money in the hundi, do you stop and debate whether the money is used for God? No, you just pray and attempt to bribe your lord with money. You read reports that many temple trusts are corrupt, half of them are run by self serving babus, yet you thrust your money into the slot, consoling yourselves that your intentions are good and what happens to the money is God’s concern,” Tony spoke with a rare passion. From the corner of his eye, he could see that he had got the lady’s attention, and while she still hid her face behind the novel, he knew that she was straining to hear his every word.

Encouraged, he continued, “I don’t know whether this guy is genuine. I don’t care. This paper here talks about street children being denied an opportunity, and I can’t stop myself giving away some money. I do hope that it is used for their education, and this guy here doesn’t spend it drinking away at the local arrack shop. If you can’t spare your precious cash, or are too cynical about things, don’t give him money. But I am giving it with good intentions, please don’t stop me.”

The words had their intended effect. The elderly couple forked out two hundred rupees, with the old man remarking, “I do hope it reaches the poor children.” The father looked at his kid’s innocent face, and some unexplainable feeling overcame him. He also reached over and handed two hundred rupees. The single guy was now too embarrassed not to participate, and he unfolded a hundred from his pocket.

Then the unexpected happened. The young lady summoned the guy, and handed over two thousand rupees. Tony was stunned. The shabbily dressed fundraiser gleefully collected the money, thanked everybody profusely and moved on.


The group started chatting with Tony, asking him the usual questions that Indian train travellers love to pose. “aapka naam kya hai?” “Where do you live?” “Where do you work?” etc etc.

Tony tried his best to be polite, but soon excused himself and went to the washroom.

“Kya speech maara bhidu? Wah wah, mandir mein bhagwan ko paise dete ho, anaath bachche ko nahin de sakte? Wah wah!” exclaimed the ‘charity fundraiser’ on seeing Tony.

“Abe itni zor se mat baat kar! Koi dekh liya toh pitenge! Waise bhi, kya speech deke kya faayda, saala kanjoos log milke 500 rupaye diye”, Tony said.

“Haan, par woh ladki toh tere baat pe fida ho gayi na! Poore do hazaar rupaye boss. Aaj raat ko apun log imported daaru pi sakte hain!”, the ‘fundraiser’ was already on a high.

“Haan yaar, mera bhi yakeen nahi hua! Dekh toh, nakli note toh nahi hai?”, Tony joked.

“Arre, sahi ladki, sahi note, bhai”, his partner drooled.

“Chal, paisa sambhal. Agle station pe uthar jaayenge,” Tony instructed and returned to his seat.

He stole a glance at the girl, and wished he could continue on the train. But his partner-in-crime couldn’t be trusted with all that money. Tony settled down and waited for the next station, willing the train to go as slow as possible.
(to be continued)

PS: Thanks to all the encouraging comments by my dear friends, relatives and well-wishers(indeed!), and the economic slowdown induced work-life balance (indeed again!), I'm graduating from one-liner PJs to long mega-serial episodes of crappy writing. Kindly adjust. As always, the PJs will be back, sooner than you can tolerate.


  1. yeah seriously, why this sun tv radhikaaa starrer types? (I can almost see her as the young lady's hard working, doting, but misunderstood mother)

    i prefer the punnaiyaar

  2. "(I can almost see her as the young lady's hard working, doting, but misunderstood mother)"

    u surely mean 'step-mother'? but no, this is not a Chithiiiiii type mega-thodar!

    and the pun-iyer is on a break for some time... adjust maadi