Everything was set for my trip to Madurai after a long gap of six months. As planned Gary and I went half hour early to catch Madurai Express, which was about to depart from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus(LTT). My past experience with second class sleeper has provoked me to go for three tire AC car. As we were trying to settle by finding place for our luggage and in search of some amicable co-travelers, we met Maheshwaran, a voluble, outspoken and a typical tamilian. Knowing the fact that a ticket cancelled by us in penultimate day of our journey enabled him to get his ticket confirmed had made us good friends. Mahesh introduced him as a Deputy Engineer from Essar, a premier oil refinery in India. I thought his fluency in Hindi might be a reward for his outspoken nature and amount of time he might have spent in north India. We were accompanied by a Marathi family, who were embarking a tour to south Indian cities like Kodaikanal, Madurai and Kanyakumari.
I was amazed by Mahesh’s ability to gel easily with strangers. But his wit fullness in cracking joke might made it possible. Eventually he had made the long journey easy by giving us a good company and explaining the concepts involved in process of oil formation from fossils. He went on explaining structure of tectonic plates and how it helps in trapping oil in between the layers of earth. We exchanged common problems, prides and gossips that all south Indians come across after being migrated to northern part of our country. It gave me a sense of relief after sharing my thoughts in my mother tongue on topics varying from Raj Thackeray to world Economic crisis. Our discussion was intensively thoughtful when we talked about different cultures prevailing in Mumbai and different languages we learned in our journey from home and interesting similarities among them. Our synchronized frequency of thoughts had created a good chemistry between us, which made our journey an enjoyable one. Mahesh’s desperation to help the Marathi family in making them understand the fact that Dindigul is near to Kodaikanal than Madurai and arranging a cab for travelling from Dindigul to Kodaikanal was really remarkable. He finally signed-off with a smile at Trichy station, where he was picked by his brother.
Our compartment was almost empty after Dindigul, after which we met a person who was in his early 50’s. He introduced himself as a railway employee from Andhra Pradesh and he was going to meet his son, who was working in Honeywell Madurai located at the campus of our college. Within a couple of minutes after our introduction he enquired about my package and started comparing his son’s package. Somehow I had managed not to show my embarrassment. But his knowledge on current affairs has amused me to continue our conversation. He was worried about Biharis dominance in Southern Railways and concerned about people who are getting railway jobs with mere political support and less technical knowledge or merit. We discussed about steps Mr.Lalu had taken to improve Indian railway as a profit yielding organization and in the conversation I understood the fact that 70% of revenue for Indian railways comes from goods train. Besides he expressed his dream of making his son an IAS officer. Especially People from Andhra have lot of passion for civil service; without which guys like Charan won’t quit a high-paying job for preparing for Indian civil service entrance exam.
I reached Madurai exactly after 36 hours of boarding from Mumbai. It was exciting to see my people and city again. This time my stay in Madurai provoked thoughts on my society, economy and culture. Hopefully I will pen those thoughts in near future.