Trip To Rajamundry

When this came along as a mail, I was trying to locate reasons why my friend from Andhra Pradesh would play a May fool prank with me, but soon minutes later it dawned that he was indeed taking the plunge into nuptial bliss at 23,regarded a little too early by today’s marriage standards for men. He was the first guy amongst my college mates who was getting married, and didn’t want to actually miss out on the fun.After a round up on who was interested and who wasn’t we finally arrived at 6 people, which over the course of the month was shrunk to 5.

Some of my friends, couldn’t get a day off, and some were thinking why at all attend a marriage so far away from Chennai(The marriage BTW was in Rajamundry).

So When we met on Wednesday the 14th at 5 30, we were quite pleased to see each of us, who had gown busier over the span of two years and also wiser than we were, while being chaperoned at 4 years of engineering life. The evening started with each of cursing our stars that we had chosen to travel by 2nd class, as the heat and the humidity had us fuming, as we were now out of the cool confines of our Offices. Soon the heat and other complaints were trivial as each of us were engaged in hearing from the other about his/her work.3 new music gadgets amongst 5…and some time went in reviewing the gadgets that we had..

Pichika Prasad, a CTS employee, had brought his IPOD VIDEO, which looked stunning, but seriously flattered to deceive, as the audio can be heard only for about 5 hours which required an hour of charging. Second the sound effects were not as good as Sony..atleast while hearing via the earphones. So spending 13 k on this would have certainly been a “drainer” of an investment, but hey, Prasad got this as a early bonus, so who’s complaining?

Kishore had recently bought a SONY portable pendrive/MP3 Player which was small in size and delivered bang for the buck, with a battery charge that lasted easily 18 hours. The flipside to it was the fact that it just didn’t require electricity to enliven up the dead battery, but required a USB drive on a compute to have it charged. So on a long vacation, one may as well forget about charging such a device, incase the place one is going to has no internet centres.

The Third gadget, of course, self pompously declared was my New Sony Erickson walkman Mobile which delivered around 12 hours of music(with the phone also on).This being a phone also helped as apart from the USB Charging , it could be charged via an adapter also. The quality of music, was observed by some to be better than the above 2 devices.

The review team was basically Prasad,Kishore and Vinu,while Prasana Kumar and I decided to get out of tech mode and enjoy the scenery outside the train, that only a second sleeper can provide any day. I also devoted some time to reading a few magazines that I had purchased. and the evening went away in a flash, after which I finally called it a day by laying my body to rest on my trekkingbag.

After a good night’s nap, thanks to the chill winds which neutralized the sultriness inside the compartment I got up at about 5 15,to start gazing outside the window, which has been my single biggest interest while traveling in trains. I always make it a point to get up early and get on to the window seat…and feel the chill morning breeze across my face, seeing all of India’s rural villages ,which otherwise has been a image formed typically as expressed by R.K.Narayans Malgudi.From Childhood, I have found keeping my eyes at the window panes, and tying to observe whether the train curves, and when it does so, the beauty of the curve being passed on from the engine to each of the coaches, before they take their linear positions is really noteworthy.

Other things that come randomly in my mind are thoughts about what if, I lived in this village for a few days, how would life be…and these questioning thoughts seem to crop up and end with every passing station. The quaint silence of lonely platforms, the music that the rail echoes hooting through villages that the Maps would pass off as a mere blip in India’s geography and the folks in the villages who, innocently wave at every train passing by, as if they just won a million. These simple feelings mean a lot to me, and makes feel like I am connecting with the soul of India, especially traveling by second sleeper.

The other contrasting feeling comes when I happen to see many parallel railway tracks, and pullulating masses of people waiting to pounce upon the compartments of an already overcrowded train. People board the train…standing and perched on the minute inch spaces that the footboard gives them, while they get lost with some intermittent chatter.

But these days, such emotions are not really felt by one and all, as every person aboard on the train seems to be meddling with his mobile, sending messages of talking on the train. The Mobile seems to be a person’s mute companion in today’s train journeys, more than the beauty of the scenery that’s outside.

I got up at this small station called ATTILI at around 5 15 in the morning and likened it to be one of those really lonely stations that Sharukh Khan had himself making tea ,in Dil Se…but the station was not quite complete..as it’s only in films you can expect some one like Manisha Koirala at such a lonely station. After Attili, the next major observation was to spot the train if it stopped at a wayside station…where some morning Tiffin would be available as my stomach was grumbling with hunger…as the previous night’s food was bad, forcing me to abandon the 30 buck Biryani.

In a not so long time frame,we reached a station called Kovvuri which incidentally was a part of the name of the wedding Boy.It was his native place, more so ancestral, where he wasn’t living anymore. We guessed that and with a sprinkling of Cumulo Nimbus clouds hovering above the place,the village in all its greenery was a lovely sight to look out, but the sun God had other ideas, who sent the sun blazing in an hour.

We Reached Rajamundry at about 7 30 in the morning, passing by the Godavari river which looked absolutely stunning in all its splendor was standing on the door, more on the footboard, while the train crosses the huge 2 kilometer bridge over the Godavari. It felt like flying over the ocean when viewed at a distance, akin to the Titanic effect, caused by Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet.The Godavari has a bathing area, where people can bathe at ease, allaying the fear of strong river currents. which more so operate a little deeper from the bathing area, which I hear is quite fatal for people attempting to swim the Godavari.

My to-be-married friend(Siva Subba Reddy) had arranged a Scorpio for us,and the journey from Rajamundry to his village was roughly about 40 kilometres.So as we got into our respective seats in the vehicle, and the AC was switched on, our enthusiasm levels which should have kept us glued to the local scenery, was lulled into sleep with each crevice of the Scorpio pushing out air,that was so cool,so as to put a house AC to shame.


Flashback… The Gift..

As we were Pretty confused about what to gift my friend Subba Reddy,we decided based on the general rule in marriages that 50% of the gifts get left behind,and 50% of the remaining gifts are discarded due to redundancy of gifts,we should be getting a gift the couple would definitely use and a gift that the couple would remember u for when they were happy.

Now mankind is such that, he/she amongst their moments of happiness, the best ones are celebrated when they have a romantic dinner at home, or in the bed…in their attempt to contribute to building India’s demography. So we decided to get the couple the following gifts

A Bed Spread with 2 Pillows, a set of 6 bowls and a set of flavoured Chocolate,black currant flavoured KS Condoms was what we settled for finally. To add to that was a huge 2 feet by 2 feet Expressions greeting card which had the photos of all our batchmates and our wishes(mostly sent via mail by the folks who could not make it).

This photo below shows Kishore adding the final touches to this hugecard in the train… before we got down at Rajahmundry.

We reached Reddy;s place at about 8 45 in the morning,after snaking through the farms and roads.
There were hardly any pompous signs of a marriage going on in their street but for the fact that the place inside the big house was crowded.Once we neared his house there were a few pandals that were put up.

As soon as we got off the vehicle the people around gave us a strange look gaping at us,as if we had flown in from the US for the marriage.The very fact that we had traveled 600 km’s to attend their wedding made the guests, get the feeling we were pretty important folks, and given the ear gear each of us had in varying forms of what we called Music gadgets,we looked as of we were from mars. Nevertherless, some of the folks who had sent the cab, were expecting us,and welcomed us with utmost respect and hospitality inside the house and asked us to go see the groom.

As we stepped in to catch a glimpse of the guy,we were quite shocked to find the groom cloaked in typical AP style White and white…with sandalwood pastes smeared on both sides of his arm, just a bowler would wear sweat bands around his arm. There was this person near him, who at regular intervals was spraying a room freshener around Reddy..and the grand chariot, the guy was seated around. He exuded a pleasant smile on seeing us, and promptly instructed one of his cousins to help us settle down in a guest house near by.

The road to the guest house resembled much of Malgudi with open pyols and long walkaways with open gutter flowing as swift as our cooum in Chennai plies through the heart of the city.

The one thing that really impressed me about the place was, its pure simplicity,however bucolic the people were,the great thing about them was their simplicity,when they spoke to us and the way they helped us settle down.The Village was all green around,with lots of tall coconut plantations,all around us.The small 4-5 lane village 32, kms from Rajamundry had its own charm of giving you a good siesta,as there are hardly any noises coming from traffic or any sound of any loudspeaker.If ever peace had a sysnonym, then I shall geographically point to this place.The place,being a prime village,offered a world that was quite common, 50 years ago,but since has dwelled into oblivion,to be seen only In rural areas today.The simple joy of seeing and spending time in with abandoned temple,hoses with tiles,dilapidated constructions .. houses with open verandahs brings back great memories.Infact such housing can be viewed in certain areas of Mylapore and Triplicane today,which still retains the olden day charm of a city that was called Madras.

We also had a peek at his room,which housed a Television that seemed ages old.It didn’t exactly feel we were in a museum,but somewhere along the line seeing the virtual time warp around me,I was never against the fact that it could pass of as a museum.

After a few gulps of biryani,some more biryani, rice and some sweets,We finally got an audience with the groom who not to long ago..was a happy go lucky bachelor …but now…is a few hours from a very important event in his life.Was he tense..no… (Ofcourse not, I hear that the ‘performance ‘ round comes only after 2 months,as currently aadi masam is on, more so a time when incest is not the in-thing ? ).

We shifted focus to our college days, when Siva Subba Reddy was a very studious guy in terms of G.K(Girl knowledge).There was nothing that he didn’t know about our class Telugu girls and he simply was their man Friday…as far as our class was concerned.The one thing with Telugu folks is that they are a bunch of really sweet and united people.There were a bunch of 7 telugu girls sitting adjacent to me, and usually during lunch time the girls were interviewed by various guys spanning various departments,who worked hard to make the girls interested in them.Reddy was a born flirt,as he had this charming nonchalant way of making full use of the 30 oddminutes of lunch time much to the discomfort of other Telugu guys,who were waging a losing battle wooing the 7 princesses from Goltiland. Reddy with our class girls was like Pakistan playing at Sharjah on Fridays,virtually undefeatable.

But as platonic love takes time to withstand the 4 rigorous years of engineering,Reddy soon lost all his firm footing,after college got over…Soon Reddy realized that his target customers would get back to hi if needed and decided to expland his business by taking up an IT job, which ultimately is the passport that stamps on his brand value in terms if a Dowry.

Reddy soon got a job with TCS..and when his parents just thought about starting the process at 23 to have it sealed by he was 25,his overzealous parents took just 2 weeks to get the fish,instead of the budgeted 2 years…and Reddy, though was surprised at the turn of events,conceded to the pleasures of connubial bliss.

Reddy evinced interest in his “kadalai corner on Alamathi Road” (any similarities to any other fruit shop in Chennai is strongly not recommended),but said he was happy marrying and seemed pretty much unflustered ,given the fact that only about 8 hours separated him from tying the knot.

The conversation between us lasted a good 2 hours,initially having everyone participating
but a few conversations later,presumably angry that our conversations were breaking right into kishore’s and Prasad’s siesta time,Prasad(Exreeme Left) and Kishore(extreme right) seem to abandon their mental prescence by closing their eyes,bowing to soporific pre occupations.

After reliving some college memories and bachelor jokes,we decided it was time, we leave the boy alone and we did some wandering near the cocnut groves and the paddyfields nearby, unmindful of the 40 degree heat that the Sun was spewing upon us.It took some time to decide whether we utilize redy’s cab or walk the distance, and though we had a car,thanks to our only telugu speaking translator Prasad, all he could manage was a banal”oodhu” which means “no thanks”.He tried saying the same,when we were offered cool drinks..but I didn’t let “oodhu Prasad” rule the roost…and intervened in the nick of time to pour some 7 up into my parched throat.

After some wandering, in the self proclaimed jungles,we settled near a place where a few buffaloes were tethered and proceeded to rest for a while.I for once, could not bear the heat,and was puzzled whether my body got hot due to fever or was it the Sun God’s prank whilst the other 4 were randomly speaking about unfinished code that was waiting for them tomorrow at office

Finally at about 4 pm, we left for the wedding hall,which was about 9 kilometres from the village.We soon realized that the reception was in a hall,while the wedding was in a rented portion of a nearby temple.

To energise us back,we got treated to some sweet etnder coconuts sold at 5 rs ..when in Chennai I pay routinelt anything between 12-15 rs for the same quantity of tender coconut.

As soon as we reached the reception hall, a glaring movie promo type picture greeted us and we were quite taken aback by the combination of computer graphics that had the couple’s photo engraved on huge vinyl sheets.

As Reddy got busy checking all arrangements , we headed to some nearby barren temple tank,where we basked in the twilight with reflections of the day and our plans and promises to meet again sometime to take respite from the humdrum of modern day life to something as what we were doing in an agrestic place as Reddy’s.

A couple of hours later, after helping the groom hide his paunch and dressing him up for the evening,we waited for the moment to give him his marriage booty, so that we could indulge ourselves with the food. It didn’t take too long,and we were there in a flash, to give him all of the gifts that we bought.In the melee of the photographer asking us to make unreasonable and unnatural phrases, the Groom totally forgot introducing us to his bride..as he was so engrossed in keeping the gifts in serial order and posing for the photos with them. Nevertherless, I guess seeing a set of mischievous guys beside hi, she must have understood that we must have spent some part of our youth with him and must have sighed…about the remaining part of life..which she had too (jus jokin).

The ANDHRA MEELS(Intended) was very tasty,but we were dead tired after the endless roaming we did throughout the evening.

We boarded the train half alive and the blazing humidity and heat didn’t seem to have us too happy about traveling second class.The return train was from orissa and any train from the east that comes south comes with hardly any water in the washbasin/toilets , unclean pathways and cockroach infested sleeper berths.We braved all that…and rehearsed the maxim…said by my nepali classmate in college(Ashish Rai).

“To Travel with Indian passengers in Indian weather in Indian class (II Class) with Indian toilets can be quite an ardous task”.

All of us had no option but to go to sleep with bare minimums on,due to the oppressive heat and lack of air movement.One marriage was just over we had one more to attend net morning……

Gosh…Too Many things..Too Little time….


Arun said...

Excellent snaps daa... ur writing can make any guy live thru' those moments..

Arun said...

And for the first time I'm hearing a person saying that "IPOD Sound quality is not upto the mark!!!"...

Enna?? nakkelaa???

and only 5 hrs of battery life?? here, my frnds eaily get 10 to 12 hrs of batter life daa!!!!

axix said...

Travelouge is excellent. I miss travelling in Indian sleeper class.
Karthik I expect mugshot of the bride, I want to see what sort of action Reddy is gettin this summer.

For that price IPod's low quality earphone is a popular complain amongst audiophile, that's the truth. I don't know why Apple couldn't give a decent earphone, my friend spent extra 50 bucks on quality earphone for IPod. IPod maybe voted cooler than beer drinkin in american college but Bose and Sony rules when it comes to acoustics.

v_tel001 said...

very interesting!

Arun said...

well said.. BOSE rules..
it's even better than SONY!!!!

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