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it is OK dad, my prank worked.

Elders say when we get up from the bed in the morning, auspicious thoughts should enter our mind. It hardly happens, for me.
This morning, my mind was enjoying a train journey, long ago, in an unreserved compartment. As usual it was packed to its full capacity and but for the fresh air so generously entered the unreserved compartment, we would have swooned of suffocation.
A middle aged man, well dressed, was messing around, controlling the wailing kids and nagging old women, moving around authoritatively, regulating the rush inside the rusty compartment. He was at his best when he stood at the entrance and prevented the entry of others, at every stopping station. ”What do you people think? We had reserved our tickets two months before” That was his argument.
Suddenly a stark silence fell in the compartment and I noticed that our friend had disappeared and the TTE had arrived from the next compartment for checking the tickets. The imposer came back to his seat only after the TTE left.
”I was hiding in the bathroom as I didn’t have a valid ticket”, he said and asked,” why should I buy ticket when everyone is corrupt in this country?”
There was no need for him to tell me that he didn’t have a ticket and was hiding in the bathroom. Hadn’t he told me, I wouldn’t have known that he was an unauthorized traveler, controlling the entry and exit points as if he was assigned that job.
Do I compliment him for uttering truth or condemn him for traveling unauthorized? Such thoughts are unnecessary, especially at the early hours of the day. But thoughts don’t seek an entry pass or knock at our door, before gushing in.
Another incident which popped up in my mind this morning was the behavior of a classmate in Delhi, where we were undergoing a special training for senior officers conducted by a reputed teaching institute. On the very first day, raising from his seat often, that man disturbed the class by asking silly questions and the teacher, an experienced elderly man, patiently clarified every doubt instead of telling him that he could refer such and such a book instead of disturbing the class.
The teacher’s face waned and others too got vexed at the repeated interference of the insipid classmate. Seated in the last bench and hoping that I was the only Malayalam-literate in the group, I shouted, ”irikkada patti”. That was an impolite way asking him to occupy his seat. He sat down instantly and never ventured to ask more questions. Everyone was happy. I thought that it was my harsh voice that silenced him.
Later in that evening, he came to my guesthouse and regretted his action and added, “my wife was in the same class and I had to ask a few questions to impress her that I was not totally ignorant of the subject.”
While exiting, he remarked in chaste Malayalam, ” Sir, it was not proper for you to address me as ‘patti’ in the presence of my wife”
My father, while I was preparing for talk in the college literary debates used to warn me,” in the audience of a hundred uninterested men, there could be a single interested  person who knows the subject and who might ask you an intelligent question. Prepare your talk for him”.
I forgot my father’s advice in the class room of elite officers in Delhi. It is OK, dad, my prank worked.
Jan 02, 2014

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