A train ride, and a plenty of smiles..
Away from the hustle and bustle of the Chennai traffic, I quite enjoy the 15 minute train ride which is a part of my 45 minute ride to work. 10 Minutes to the railway station, 15 Minutes on the train & 15-20 odd minutes on a share auto to office! Oh, it’s fun. I enjoy it thanks to some good train service run by southern railway! Over the last few months, every single train journey has seemed like a joy ride. Usually full, with people from all over. The journey is boring when I meet up with people who are traveling for jobs, just like everyone else, they are tired and want to sleep. Some of them reading the newspapers, a few others listening to some local radio station. I’m yet to meet with the iPod on this train, which is quite refreshing. And then you can occasionally see a 1-year-old pull on your fingers, or a kid looking out the window and saying things to his father. But the incident that I most remember is with a very traditional looking 60 something old man a while back..
Neatly dressed in a White shirt and a Veshty (A dhoti like clothing, that is usually wore like a lungi) I was holding on to my lunch box, occasionally looking at the phone to see, well nothing. We chatted up for a bit, usually cricket, the best icebreaker, specially with the IPL around. He told me about how he used to walk for kms to get to work, and we just now have the facility of the trains and still complain how much crowded it is and stuff like that. I was enjoying the conversation as it was giving me great insight into the ‘Madras’ that has now changed to what they call “Singara Chennai”.
“Do you play the SUDOKU?” he asked. “eerr..mmm.. no! I haven’t really given them an addiction shot. A one here another one there, usually with a seperation of months between them.”.. “How would u like to challenge this old man? I’m not pretty good too, but lets give it a shot!” I could easily see that he was lying.. He was just trying to pull me into accepting the challenge.. Phew… Two deep breaths & I said, “May the best man win!”
Simple rules, Same Puzzle, No time limit to ensure the challenge stays alive, and the one who loses should keep trying until finished. There was no giving up!
I copied the SUDOKU on a plain piece of paper! Easy, ah, you’ve done it before Kunal, you can do it, You’ve done this before. Stopwatch on my phone had started ticking. A crowd had developed with curious onlookers from either side. People looking out of the window were looking at us. Some of them trying to solve the puzzle themselves. 45 seconds into the competition I was done with my first box, It was easy, 4 simple numbers that you just cannot miss. I was growing in confidence. I looked up as soon as I finished my second one, the crowd was curious. 3 minutes into the puzzle, I was starting to feel the pressure. A couple of boo’s and bah’s from the crowd, but I still managed a very thoughtful guess, I was then able to fill in some vertical lines. Three and half minutes down, A pat on my back..
It was him, a completed puzzle in his hand and a sparkle in the eye. I was looking at Stone Cold Steve Austin holding the WWE title catching beer from the fans! And me, just another small time failure with a feeling of Chyna lower blowing me in the balls! I was in a shock!I didnt know what to say. I was defeated in-front of an expectant audience to a 60 something old man! I was for sometime seeing everything in slow motion. I felt like imagining a movie scene. I could see somebody in a blurred vision telling me “The clock is still ticking”.. What?.. The clock is still ticking!
I had to finish the SUDOKU in 5 minutes or he’s just leave, with a grin on his face! It was hard! “This is me.” he said, pointing outside the window, his station had arrived. I could not finish it! He walked off shaking my hand wishing me better luck next time! Oh my god, the humiliation that I felt with him waving me out was something that I’d never forget. But then, there was a happy feeling, I had put a smile on somebody’s face. If I had a moment that I wanted frozen for life, it was this! The smile made him look a lot younger. It brought back feelings of my grandfather, who usually took the pleasure of beating his grand children at the game of -I-don’t-remember-the-name-but-was-played-with-marbles-and-tray-to-slot-them-in-place-game! The oldie must have had a hearty laugh narrating this incident to his family & friends and which is why I was smiling!
Every single thought after he left put a smile on my face. What a day, what a train ride. Now every time I look back at the incident, I feel like an IDIOT. Yes, an Idiot, to have not asked him for a name or a number! I’ve been practicing SUDOKU from then on, in a hope to see him again and finish unfinished business. 30 days and 45 SUDOKU’s later, My timing has only improved by a minute 😦 Do you have such a story? A Moment that you want to share? or to just leave tips on SUDOKU, use the comment box below.