November 23, 2006

Ladies Compartment : Personality trait - I

Booking goes well beyond the ticketing counter. The fast train leaves Churchgate Station yet again. First stop Marine lines. Here too, women jump in before the train has had a chance to halt. Quickly the bevy of women begin to frantically question everyone around. "Kaunsa stop?" ("Which station?") but it is not that they are confused. A great many women move from one end of the compartment to another in search for the earliest possible station that another passenger is going to alight at. But most times there isn't enough time. Within a minute they decide upon a certain seat and call out their claim for occupancy. It is a system. It has been practised and perfected. The entire exchange adds to less than five words or even five seconds.
"Kahaan?" ("Where?")
"Mujhe dena." ("Give me.")
But it is an all important affair. Ladies dozing quietly in the corner are woken up. Some even announce their destination in advance so that they will be bothered no further. This continues at every stop along the way. Even later in the route where the women believe there might be an open seat that someone missed. It can be a tricky affair too. Making sure one remembers to whom the seat has been relinquished to and closing the bid as soon as possible and discouraging further applicants.

Never in the general compartment. It could be a display of masculinity and/or decency. I really hope it's because they don't want to expend any more energy than absolutely necessary and that they are a well-behaved lot.

Next week : The defense will come forward.

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