“Train number 58483 going from Delhi to Bhatinda is delayed by 40 minutes.” So blared the speaker of New Delhi Railway station (Im not sure about the train number and exact announcement.) We were waiting for other relatives to turn up and at the same time were keeping an eye on the whole gammot of suitcases and bags that we were carrying (close to a dozen!) It was my bhaiya’s engagement ceremony and we were going to Bhatinda.
I was secretly pleased with this train delay…believe it or not, I was going to travel by train after nearly 10 years. So this chuk chuk gaddi still retained its charm on me…everything about the station fascinated me. The chai-wala (station ki chai used to be notorious for being pathetic), the odd rustic smell that originates from god-knows-where, the coolie outfits, the announcements, sound of metal against metal as a train comes to a stop and blaring honking of the train….but my special favourite was the Wheeler stalls.
I was always fond of reading comics and Pran was my all time favourite. It was usually @ the station that mom used to buy me chacha choudhary comics when we used to go to nani’s place in summers. And ofcourse nanu used to buy me some more when we used to go for walks in the evenings.
So after close to a decade when I saw a bookshop I naturally couldn’t resist the urge to buy myself a comic. Ironically, I had a award winning book in my handbag that time and I was craving to read about the adventures of a bald and heavily moustached god-knows-how-many-years-old man and his 12 ft tall alien friend sabu :D:D
I went to the bookshop. The guy greeted me with a salesman smile and immediately showed me the novels and philosophical books section, Robin S Sharma, Paulo Coelho, Jon Grisham, Robin Cook etc etc. He asked me if I was looking for any specific writer.
“Chacha chaudhary ki comic hai kya?”
He was kinda surprised. Then he handed me a stack of 20-30 paged comics. And like any other sales guy, he couldn’t possibly believe that I know what I want the best so he went on suggesting me Archies and Tinkle and other variety of kiddie books that could have been bought.
“Ye le lijiye. Aajkal bachche yehi padhte hain.” He pushed some unknown book towards me. I declined the offer but he insisted saying that my kid would surely love it! Here I was trying to re-live my childhood days and this guy was forcing me to face NOT the reality but a future…MY KIDS!!!
“Bhaiya mujhe apne liye chahiye, bachcho ke liye nahi.” With that I quickly paid his money and went back to my parents and family.
But it was a trip worth making an effort for.