Day (minus)13: Heil IR.

“Ye Aakashvaani hai. Ab aap Hindi mein samachar suniye.”

“This is All India Radio. Now, the News in English.”

There’s no choice there. She’s not asking you whether you want to listen to the news. She is not enquiring if you’d be interested in something like that. “Ab aap suniye”. “Maine kahaa suniye toh suniye”. There is no sense of option in the construction of that sentence. The whole compartment can wail and squeal in protest. But hear the news, they must.

Next commences the Shastriya Sangeet. An Unidentified Flailing Object blares through the resolute speakers. The passengers can only look at them in a semi-suicidal daze. Or look defeatedly about at one another. Anything can malfunction in the Indian Railways – from the air conditioning to the toilet flush. Hell, there is a rat under my berth, right now. But those speakers shall endure a nuclear attack.

The saving grace are the verbal typos.

“Pradhan Mantri Shri Pranab Mukherjee ne aaj Dilli mein kahaa… ahem… kshama kijiye… Rashtrapati Shri Pranab Mukherjee ne aaj…”

They can bring joy to a dying man.

We, the neighbours, are trying to survive the rodent attack and the musical onslaught by distracting ourselves with movies from my hard disk. The last movie we watched had been playing for 1.5 hours, when the old lady next to me turns to me and comments about how the volume is too low. I was about to apologize for my laptop’s poor speaker strength when she sagely remarked about how that is understandable, what with the weather being overcast and all that.

Oh, how I love the Indian Railways.

It was him all along!

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