I sat in a train after quite a while today. I was on my way to bandra, and i bumped into an old friend at the bus stop (yes, i was also in a bus after a long while...twice today!)
we were both heading in the same direction, and he was already late for work (however "late" a guy standing at a bus stand at 1 pm in bombay could possibly be), so he decided to forego a fast train to give me company on my journey (although I was rather keen on traveling at the footboard of a superfast train myself, he kinda dismissed the thought).
so there I was at borivli station, waiting for the 1:32 semi-fast, with my brother's school classmate's dad (which is how I initially got to know him many years ago, btw). as the train pulled in, old instincts kicked in and we jumped into the still-running train, and caught an almost-window seat in the direction of the breeze. we had almost settled in when the couple sitting at the window seat (in the direction of the breeze, mind you) vacated their seats after a cursory glance under it. seasoned rain travelers that we were, we waited for the guy during next to them to slide toward the window, and when he didn't, we quickly moved there.
we asked the guy there why he didn't want the window seat. he said it was because of an unclaimed black bag under it.
we shrugged and took his rightful place. a window seat was a window seat, even in a barely occupied coach.
a guy took his place opposite us. it was opposite the breeze, but a window seat nevertheless.
we say there in silence, till the announcer made the mandatory but cursory announcement that our safety depended on our vigilance and our identification of unclaimed baggage.
we shrugged it off again.
the guy opposite us didn't.
he reminded us that we were sitting above an unclaimed black bag.
the ensuing discussion (liberally translated from my understanding of street gujju interspersed with marathi and a bit of english) went along the lines that "it's a harmless looking black bag. there's nothing we can do about it. if it happens to be a bomb, we'll just assume our time has come and we've lived our lives". the guy opposite reminded us that people often survive bomb blasts and may end up human vegetables, but we reassured him that we were near enough to the bag to ensure we didn't survive any half-assed bomb attack, however crude it may have been.
I tweeted: "sitting above an unidentified black package in the 1:32 churchgate fast from borivli". nobody seemed to notice.
as the train started moving, we rationalized that "we don't know the day or time of our end anyway".
and that's it.
three 40-50 somethings, and me, a 20-something, admitting to each other that we didn't care.
at kandivali station, my friend nudged the package with his foot and declared that it felt like just cloth.
we discussed bikes and the good old 70s (okay, I'm not that old, but I can imagine). I eventually alighted at bandra. there were no frantic calls from home for another 12 hours ;) so I assume the package was as harmless as my friend assessed.
I will always remember that moment. if not the moment, then the feeling.
when four grown men in very different phases of life agreed there was nothing we really had to lose.