Train Chronicles


As much as I love long drives when I’m on the driver’s seat, I like train journeys too, simply due to the intriguingly amusing experiences that they offer. Now I know that leaves me in an obvious predicament when choosing my mode of transportation for long trips, but I guess the choice is a little less complicated, until I get myself a car.

It has always been an involuntary characteristic of mine to eavesdrop on people around me, trying to catch pieces of their conversation and in turn put things together to have a glance into their lives, when I’m alone in a public place. In case of a train or a bus journey, this becomes an inevitable break from books, when my eyes start hurting.

Coming back to what I started off with, by just glancing across to the seats around you or keeping your ears open to catch those voices that perhaps travel all the way from the other side of the coach, there is a lot you can gather. And if there is a person reading a book sitting nearby, I go to the extent of tilting me head as much as possible to actually figure out the name and author of that particular book, often being caught in an awkward manner. In one of those recent train trips, which was hardly half an hour – enough to catch up with a good amount of reading – with Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart (quite a different book compared to his previous ones that I’ve read, both in its style of writing and its narrative flow) for company, I decided to take a break, a few minutes before the train pulled into the destination – Metropark, New Jersey. Contrary to the usual mental notes that I take while looking around, this time I decided to pen down what I saw or heard. And here are two of which seemed to need a special mention amidst the regular ladies on the phone and men on their laptops. And these special mentions are things that make the art of eavesdropping (which I comfortably extended to include sight too), rather an interesting hobby.

Sitting in the diagonally opposite seat to me was a lady reading the book, Divorce Remedy – 7 proven steps to saving your marriage, while her husband, beside her, was tapping away to glory on his Dell Laptop. Now the way I confirmed that they were actually couples was much earlier when they were boarding the train, as they called their son to pick them up! That was perhaps how this incident went soaring up the list. I guess thats a typical American family 😉

The second incident was equally, if not more, bizarre. There was a young girl perhaps sitting two seats behind me, young I gathered due to the ceaseless conversations she was having on the phone – a typical trait seen among the teenage species, around the globe these days, with phone companies relying heavily on them for their quarterly performance boosts! I would normally have overlooked such data without even processing the information out of it, had she not paused in between to tell the person sitting next to her to stop rubbing his palms together as she hated the sound of skins rubbing! Now that caught me slightly on the not-so-usual side of daily happenings on a train!

Back in Philadelphia after a short visit to meet my friends in New Jersey to yet another manic Monday!

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~ by Niranjan Nandakumar on January 26, 2009.

4 Responses to “Train Chronicles”

  1. Something along the lines happened to me (Ah, yes, I’m a kind of an eavesdropper, too ;)) It was young dude, inside NY metro train, crying reading a book. I mean, the tears were welling up, nose was red and running, and you could see that he was getting all emotional. I sort of bent down, pretending to scratch an itch on my knee, to see what book he was reading. A text on advanced physics. I don’t know, maybe he had his exams. It was weird.

  2. Wen I’m traveling, I usually read a book or listen to FM..I really don’t bother to look arnd 🙂

    Thnx for dropping by my blog 🙂

  3. @Prasil … LOL. Advanced Physics is indeed a “touching” tale!

    @Swats .. I read too. But you obviously need breaks in between.

  4. the art of eavesdropping… hmmm….i like that term 🙂

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