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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Last Day

The day dawned bright and early. The sun was up, the birds were twittering, and the mighty prince unsheathed his sword and... Oops! Wrong place. Let’s begin again.

We were all packed and ready by about 10.30 and were borne to the railway station by our trusty steeds. We stood around our bags, looking like amateur dealers in second-hand luggage. We had an uninspiring breakfast from the railway canteen. I skipped that and had a Frooti (now available in a pet bottle). Puris dripping oil aren't exactly my favourite.

The train journey back home was as eventful as the one to Hyderabad. People kathifying [talking], sleeping, singing, staring out the window at the dismal landscape... Nothing new there. But the card playing epidemic broke out, and every other person seemed to have bits of paper in their ears. I played only Uno, I wasn't interested in the Queens and Hearts.

Since gambling is illegal, and no amount of swearing on dead grandmothers’ graves would convince hard-hearted railway inspectors that we weren’t staking our rings and chains, I was made to keep lookout. A fat guy with a moustache, carrying a briefcase, dressed in khaki, I was told, was the villain. I saw a khaki shirt near the door and warned my friends. They quickly hid their cards, and the uniformed official passed us carrying a broomstick and a bucket, completely oblivious to our innocent expressions. I attempted a quiet exit, but wasn’t very successful. Let us draw a curtain of charity over the unpleasant events that followed immediately after.

Lunch was sponsored by one of the teachers who had accompanied us on the trip. Hyderabad biryanis. Yum!

The train snaked its way through brown hills and desolate mountains, and it grew steadily hotter. The stifling heat didn’t affect the hardcore gamers, and they continued to play with undiminished enthusiasm. The Uno players rested.

An excellent dinner prepared with the greatest of love and care by the extremely competent cooks aboard the train’s pantry saw a few people lying around groaning. I turned veggie, so you can imagine how bad it was.

Before we knew it, it was time for bed. The card players needed to be convinced that it really was dark and there really existed a world outside spades and aces, such as food, drink and sleep.

We slept well, and bad, bad people who call themselves my friends woke me up some time before 7. What’s the point in getting up when there isn’t anything to eat?

The train entered good old Kerala (yay!) in the afternoon, although we were too tired to notice. Our number began going down when the train stopped at stations, replaced by people who hadn’t been on the tour getting on.

AJ’s dad brought lunch for all of us when the train stopped at her station. Her mom had made chapatti and chicken curry! I shall be eternally grateful to him for the first fresh home-cooked meal I had on the trip.

We were really tired by the time we reached home-sweet-home again. I was really glad to see mom standing there, I never realised how much I'd missed her until then. I said my goodbyes to my friends, who gave me strict instructions (orders, really) to show up for the Orthopaedics posting the next day, and telling my mom to make sure I did. That was the last straw. I decided then and there that I wasn’t attending the posting (I have this nasty rebellious streak that is unmasked when people try to order me about). I cut postings the next day, and attended the afternoon practicals session. As it turned out, none of those people turned up even for the practicals. So much for practising what they preach.

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