The movie ‘Before sunrise’ added a new romanticism to train journeys. After that I am sure many a lady or gentleman have fantasized about an exciting romantic rendezvous on a train. Well, I am not exactly of the romantic disposition. But I had watched the movie in question. And I was not entirely resistant to these natural human desires. So such thoughts did cross my mind on my first train journey to Vienna. After all, the hero in the movie also was travelling to Vienna. He too was alone. The law of attraction says if you strongly desire something, the entire universe conspires to make your wish come true. What I had assumed to have been just a passing thought did seem to have been a very powerful desire. For indeed the occupant of the seat opposite to mine turned out to be a comely lass just leaving her teens and entering her twenties. I was not sure if she was Spanish or French. But definitely she was not German. Her hair was wrapped in a bandanna. I no longer recollect any other aspects of her attire.
General wisdom says 'more the merrier'. But not so in the case of pretty girls! Here one would have to slightly alter the saying. The merrier should become messier. That was the situation on the train for there was not one girl but two. So they kept whispering and giggling to each other paying least heed to me sitting on the opposite seat staring at them. So much for ‘Before sunrise’! But still all was not lost. It was up to me to seize initiative. I tried hard to make conversation with them. But somehow the words failed to travel from my mind to my tongue and everything I had to say remained unsaid. Finally one of the girls condescended to notice my presence and grace me with a few words, “Do you want to sleep?”
I wonder if the girl’s question has sent the mind of the reader racing. A little bit of explanation regarding the seats on European trains will help the reader interpret her intentions. The opposite seats on a train can be extended and joined to form a bed for three. There were no other passengers in the compartment. So we could have a comfortable sleep by joining the seats. Words still continued to fail me. I mutely nodded by head and got up to help them join the seats. And soon I was sleeping with two pretty European girls! And by the time I woke up, there was no sign of either of the girls. As I got up, my hand reached to my back pocket and I discovered that there was no sign of my wallet either. Immediately my suspicions fell on the two girls. Had I been 'honey trapped ' as they call it in the newspapers?
However the girls were the last thing on my mind at that moment. For there were more serious concerns. I would soon be in an unknown city with not a penny in my pocket. I was wishing I had hidden some money inside my socks, in the secret pocket of my pant and inside my bag as I always used to. I of course still had my room bookings. But what would I do for food and my journey back to Cologne? I did not even have money to call up my friends. Only hope was to turn myself in at the local police station and hope they would safely deport me back to India. Only silver lining on the cloud would be that I could save on the return air fare if the Austrian police sent me back at their cost.
The thought of a saving money calmed me down a bit and I decided to check around the compartment to see if the law of attraction could magically attract my wallet back to me and save me all the trouble with the police. I looked under the seat. And guess what! Right under the seat was the wallet. My joy knew no bounds. I immediately pounced on the wallet and opened it to examine the contents. Everything was intact. Phew! What a relief! It must have slipped out of my pocket and fallen off the gap at the end of the seat while I was rolling in my sleep. With the air of suspicion cleared, the two angels were back on the pedestal. I regretted having misjudged them so hastily. But they were now gone and I could not even apologize to them.
Though I had missed the opportunity that time, another opportunity presented itself in less than a year’s time. This time back home in India on the famed Indian Railways. Only hitch was the girl in question still had a decade and a half to catch up with the other two girls. Anyways I did not want to concern myself with these temporal technicalities. She would definitely be pretty young lass for whose attention all young men would vie for in another 15-18 years time. There is nothing like being too early, is there? This little Indian Angel was much more talkative than the two European angels. She spoke up to me, “I like to eat groundnuts, green peas and cashew nuts. What do you like to eat?”
I don’t know if I had mentioned that I have what they call a ‘sense of humor’. So I decided to try it with this girl. “I love to eat babies. Small, chubby, rosy ones like you", I said pointing my finger at her close to her face
The girl did not wait to hear more. I felt a sudden tinge of pain surge through my finger. She seemed to have decided to undertake a preemptive strike before the cannibal in front of her made his move on her. She had bitten my finger hard. Luckily, milk teeth are not too strong and sharp or I might have ended up losing a finger. Such was the force behind the bite! But I had learnt my lesson that humor and kids do not go together.
“Once shy, once bitten” is how I would summarize my overall experience with girls on trains. Subsequently I never met any more girls on trains. In fact I never met girls anywhere, except the ones my parents arranged during the bride hunt. But that’s altogether a different story. As I said earlier, I am not exactly of the romantic disposition. Come to think of it, I really did not like the movie ‘Before Sunrise’ all that much either. Did someone mention sour grapes?
Picture credit - guardian.co.uk