Overheard during a train journey
"Dad! India is so hot. Chennai has not changed one bit dirty and sticky."
"Aaamam Pa, A/C le ticket kidakkale, Kerala pora train le..eppovume full than..ella malayalees-um chennai ille na bangalore -le thaan irukkanga..hmmmppph"
I glance up from my magazine and take note only to see the dad looking at me with contempt. I try and stay stone faced, to see where he was going with his comment. Bad thing to do in hindsight.
"Intha IT BPO vanthathile, chinna pasangalukku kode neraye kaasu kaiyle varathu..enna pannnanum nu theriyaama kettu kuttichavaru aakaranga...hmphhh"
I glance up again, just in time to catch the distinct scowl that was directed at me. Totally clueless as to what my crime was, I was perplexed. But the truth struck me a while later. He had caught me in conversation with a fellow traveller in malayalam and had taken for granted that i was malayalee and naturally couldnt follow Tamil. Now the perplexion was replaced by a wicked grin in my face. "hmmmm! interesting ;-) ".. My ears were now totally tuned to the frequency of the conversation, though i appeared to be engrossed in the book i had in hand.
" U know kanna, Girls in bangalore took a vow that from now on they will be good."
"yes, but what does that mean..they have been bad all this while...this generation i tell u...che"
I catch junior nodding his head vigorously in agreement.
Senior in contemplation and then a sudden burst " You are also in support right? How is it in australia"
Junior now in a quandry.."Well, Yes appa, well..mmm.." and with a sudden smile "Yeah I am in support, but i work in the day shift. There is not much chances during the day. But my friends work during the night and mmmm"
A moment of deafening silence
"They say that people do wrong during the night when there is no one looking"..Senior digesting the facts slowly...digesting regurgitating and then digesting it again...
A long pause and my ears are itching for the conversation to continue. The parties were each out maneuvering each other now. Playing mind games. And just as i was about to go back to the magazine...
"You should get married you know. It is time U settled down. The neighbours are always asking about you and I think that lady talked to your mother also. She has been pestering me for some time."
"Well Y appa, I am still young I need to enjoy life." And i suddenly and rashly turn to look at the son. An instant poem struck me then ..
"Chubby cheeks, Rosy chin...Though once i was thin, All that beer did me in"
and I bit my lips to avoid laughing as the image of this young guy rubbing his beer belly flashed before my eyes. Sadly for me the conversation in english stopped. Sadly for my neighbours I could follow Tamil.
In hushed voices
"Onakku nalla market aakum. And she is Sankaran's (Fictious name) only daughter"
"Gasp! Yaaaru ..Sangeetha (fictious name) va???...aval..seri alla appa".
"Dei, approm nee ethukku avalukku love letter kuduthe school le irukkumbothu??"
"Ille da..innum ethra naalakku thaan nee australia le ippidi student visa le vela paape..avalum paakarthukku nalla irukka..Yarukkum onna paththi theriyaathu..Ippo kalyanam panni na nalla kaasu kidakkum da..Nee india le vanthu settle pannalam..naanga onga koode vanthu iruppom"
Junior in big trouble..and looking for a way out... and spots my Ipod..
"Appa..you know what this is.."
"Ethavathu mobile aa irukkum"..
"Ille ...Its called Ippod...u can listen to music..." Turns to me and asks me whether he can borrow it for a while. The dad plugs it into his ear and looks at me with a look that is still etched in my mind...The pod was playing "Ilayanila"..I try and not laugh. And a thoroughly flustered Dad quickly removes it and asks Junior.
"Dei...poratta sappadriya...Ponnusamy lenthu vanginathu..".."No appa, It is Junk food..and I dont want to eat all that unhygenic stuff.."
"Only one hour and I am already tired appa, this is more straining than the flight..Next time book it in flight appa...Y dont u change your scooter, Splendour is such a boring bike.. U know in Autralia....and the son went on and on and on.."
I look at senior and something told me that the conversation was now dead..and I doze off ...mmm overhearing can be such a wonderful thing..isnt it?