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Shatabdi Express

a short story by Paramjit Sharma

Shatabdi Express Dont sit there as a dumbstruck? Make relevant queries as it is a question of your life. The girls at Delhi are quite smart and you need to be smart with them Vishnu got last minute instructions from his bhabhi as he jumped into the car of his brother. On the way to railway station his brother informed him about the new train called Shatabdi Express by which his reservations have been made. The train is quite fast and sometimes touches a speed of more than 120 km per hour. It stops only at Haridwar & Saharanpur and reaches Delhi in less than six hours. At the Station someone would come to pick you up and drop you at the IIT Guest House where arrangements have already been made for him. his elder brother informed him as they reached the railway station Vishnu Darshan who worked at ONGC as Technical Officer (Oil Extraction), was travelling to Delhi to look for a bride contacted through electronic media by his elder brother. He did his Engineering from IIT, Roorkee and it was his third year of job with ONGC. His family wanted him to settle in his life and marry as his mother was not keeping good health. Visnu wanted someone as his life partner who could take care of his ailing parents. After his marriage he could get a big staff quarter and thought of brining his parents to stay with him rather than at village where medical facilities were quite scarce. His elder brother also took good care of them but his house was relatively small and his wife was working with an insurance company. On entering the platform he was offered a rose and vermillion tilak was applied on his forehead as if he was welcomed by the girls family at Dehradoon instead of Delhi. It was the inaugural journey of Shatabdi Express from Dehradoon to New Delhi. The engine of the train was garlanded, signifying early marriage for Vishnu. The Divisional Manager of railways specially came from Delhi to flag off the train and the railways staff was making their last minute arrangements. He checked his seat number 17 which was the middle one in the C-5 coach. As per his nature he always planned to reach quite early and this habit has always

facilitated him to settle his luggage comfortably in the train. He has often observed in trains latecomers fighting for scarce luggage space. After few minutes of taking his seat in the compartment he noticed a girl in her early twenties opened the door and entered the compartment. Though Visnu was quite introvert by nature, but the charm of that girl got him fascinated towards her. She was dressed in a churidar &sky blue colour Kurta and looked quite sober and beautiful. He always imagined marrying such type of girl. He suspected his brother and bhabhi might have planted that girl so as to enable them to spend six hours in a protected environment of the train. Excuse me a sweet voice disturbed his short fantasy. Yes Madam Vishnu replied without looking at her as if he has been caught fantasying about the girl My seat number is 16, can I go there? the girl smilingly asked. Visnu got from his seat to make way for her. Her style of entering to the space and sitting on the corner seat signified royalty. He helped her in keeping her small bag on the loft and thanked his luck to get a company of such a beautiful girl. She settled on the seat and started reading a book; the title was not visible to him from a place he was sitting. The smell of her perfume, attire and mannerism were quite impressive. He was not getting courage to interact with her and as always, waited for her to start the conversation. He started imagining about the girl he was going to have a look at Delhi and wished could be similar to the one sitting on the next seat with him. She maintained long and shining hair, her eyes were quite bright, her neck resembled a peacock and her height should be in perfect harmony with his height. Ultimately he mustered courage to ask her if she was going up to Delhi or Saharanpur when he noticed a tall and handsome boy occupying seat number 18 next to him. The train started dot at 5 pm and he got lost in having a pleasant journey in wonderful company of his neighbour when the boy sitting next to him called him.
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Excuse me sir; will you like to play cards? Sorry, I dont know playing cards he arrogantly replied. The boy then boldly asked the girl sitting next to Vishnu. Madam, will you like to play cards? he smilingly asked her while holding bunch of the cards in his hand. I know only Rummy she smilingly replied. Getting unexpected response from the girl, the boy then asked Vishnu to exchange his seat so that they can comfortably souffl and play cards. Vishnu was hesitant to shift as he would be missing the company of such a beautiful girl and losing such wonderful opportunity of possible conversation with her. Bhai sahib aap Kiya us seat par ja sakte ho?. Reluctantly he surrendered, when that girl also requested He could not bear that jolt. His suspicion of possible planting a girl by his brother-bhabhi was also over when the next seat girl called him Bhai Sahib. Vishnu was quite scared of speed and that was the maiden trip of the train to Delhi. Its deafening speed made him to wonder about the circumstances in case the train get derailed. He prayed for his safe journey to Delhi. In an hours time the train reached Haridwar where many youngsters entered the compartment and started collecting coins for throwing into Ganges on behalf of the passengers. Surprisingly passengers were quite enthusiastically and generously giving them coins from one rupee to five rupees. Many beggars also entered the compartment despite the resistance of the attendant. Passengers also purchased Gangajal in plastic cans from the vendors who were charging quite exorbitantly. One Sadhu like person entered with four -five followers who carried an idol dipped in oil which according to them was the deity of Ganges. People offered Pooja and put lot of coins in that bucket type oil bin. After train started from Haridwar, Vishnu observed on his right a person in his late thirties checking hand of a lady who appeared to be married. Since he had
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nothing to do he got busy in observing & noticing the communication of both the couples. Tea with Samosa and biscuits were served by the catering staff after they left Haridwar. The speed of the train was not allowing his thermos and plate to settle on the tray table provided on the back of the seat. Madam, please give me an opportunity to make tea for you the rummy boy asked the girl who willingly accepted the offer. You see Madam once we get struck at Zojilla Pass while travelling between Leh and Srinagar. But for the villagers who kept on serving Kahwa periodically, they would have frozen to death during that time due to extreme cold in that region the rummy boy wanted to justify the reasons for making tea for the beautiful girl. She had become reasonably comfortable with the boy as she was continuously winning the rummy games and that boy was purposely losing games to keep the interest of the girl intact in the cards. Vishnu was in no mood to take tea. Partially because of the speed of the train and partly because of what has been happening in his neighbourhood. His mood became further bad when that girl said. Bhai Sahib, Apki Chai Thandi Ho Rahi Hai With heavy heart he sipped tea and decided to concentrate on the other passengers sitting to his right on seat number 19 and 20. You see, you are likely to have Shani dasha for next five years. This can create problems in your married life, delayed motherhood and getting a job of your liking. the person in saffron clothes and having Baba Ramdev type beard said confidently to the girl sitting on next seat to him towards the window. Is there a solution to these problems the girl in her late twenties asked Yes there is a solution the eyes of baba got brightened once he realised that his trap is working exceedingly well on that girl. What should I do the girl inquisitively asked.

You have to come to our Gurus Aashram and our Guruji would do Yagna to take away the bad affect of Shani Dasha on your life which is delaying motherhood for you and other hindrances in your life the baba confidently said to her. Is it ok if I come for a day at the Aashram the girl enquired. No madam, our system is very holistic. You have to come there alone for 15 days and serve at the kitchen of the Aashram .Another 15 days you may be asked to serve at its dispensary or Maintenance of the Garden. After successful completion of your service in the Ashram, your family can join you when our Guruji would do an exclusive Yagna for you and your family. Baba explained her details. Does it cost something in the Aashram the girl further asked. The Ashram would inform you once you contact us with your details. I tell you people come dejectedly to the Ashram and go happily with their wishes fulfilled. With the blessings of our Guru, many females were blessed with motherhood when medical doctors have said no to them; many people with long and incurable disabilities have been cured by our Guruji through healing touch therapy. Our Guruji has transformed lives of thousands of people baba said while still holding girls hand tightly. Vishnu got engrossed into their interesting talk when suddenly he heard a loud cheer and high five from the boy and the girl for continuously beating the boy in the ten games played so far. Deven, I swear, you are the most sweat company I have ever travelled with Ritu I also swear that you are the most beautiful girl I have ever met in my life the rummy boy said to makhan maro the girl. Vishnu was amazed at their closeness in a short time when the train was yet to reach even Saharanpur. He should try to warn this girl about the possible deception by the rummy boy. He twice tried to create intimacy with the boy to know his design and intentions. But that boy intelligently ignored him by asking Vishnu to join them to play cards. Vishnu cursed his earlier reply when that boy offered him to play cards.
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The couple in Vishnus neighbourhood was becoming closer as the speed of the train was increasing. Both were disturbing his heart and he got worried internally. The girl appeared from a nice family and that rummy boy was using every trick to entangle the girl in his trap. He remember when a girl from his organization ran away with a small time shopkeeper and returned back to her home after the boy spent all money she brought with her. Ritu which hill stations in India you have explored the boy asked while picking a biscuit from the plate of the girl I have so far visited Mussoorie and Shimla only the girl said while counting something on her fingers. Oh Yes I have also visited Kasauli in Himachal if that is also considered a hill station the girl said while giving deep smile to the boy. How about you Deven? the girl enquired Vishnu ignored his reply and got lost in thoughts of having a meeting in the train with the Delhi Girl whom he was going to meet. In six hours journey they would have asked every possible question to each other. There could have been a possibility of even touching the hand of the girl on the pretext of a hand shake. If acceptable to each other they could have finalised the place of their honeymoon. Oh..Kaka Sharanpur aane wala haiKhana Lai ke Pahuch.Main Train Da khana nahi Kha Sakda Vishnus thought process was badly shattered by a Sardarji talking loudly on his mobile. Almost everyone looked at him when someone boarded the compartment to handover a big dinner box at Saharanpur Station. Vishnu was envious of his co-passengers who were sharing their dinner with each others to the extent the rummy boy was feeding the girl ice cream from his cup. Even that Baba was served food by the girl sitting next to him. He could not see that Sardarji eating from big box because he was sitting behind his seat. You will definitely like this Belgium Chocolate the rummy boy opened the wrap and tried putting a piece of an imported chocolate in the mouth of the girl.
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The girl lovingly grabbed his hand while he was putting the chocolate in her mouth. It is fantastically tasty the girl said while revolving the chocolate in her mouth with her tongue. You dont like Chocolates the girl enquired on seeing the rummy boy not eating. I like when someone lovingly offer the rummy boy said while looking in the eyes of the girl The girl repeatedly served the boy chocolates with her hands and this process continued till the chocolate lasted. You keep this packet of Chocolates for your consumption later. This way you will at least remember me and this journey the boy took a small packet of chocolates and handed over to girl who kept the packet in her purse after resisting for some time. The rummy boy appeared to be totally professional in these types of affairs. Vishnu was amazed when rummy boy also offered a small bottle of French Perfume. Perhaps the same brand which the girl was using. The game of rummy became secondary and their love talk was taking all importance. Their area of discussion moved from romantic films to Alps of Switzerland. Vishnu felt jealous and decided to take his mind away from them to Baba and other girl on his right. Tie this tabeej on your right arm on second Wednesday of shravan month after keeping it in your Mandir for whole night in a pot of milk. Your husband should tie a tabeej when you visit the Ashram, because only Guruji can tie that. When both the tabeej are tied, you see the difference in your life the baba said while handing over a tabeej to the girl sitting next to him. Vishnu was wondering at the marketing strategy of product bundling used by baba to handover another tabeej when they visit the ashram for the combined affect. Baba how much it may cost me. the girl wanted to know the cost of Tabeej

The single tabeej cost Rs 2500 but for you only two thousand baba said while tying tabeej on the arm of the girl. Baba, I am sorry I am not carrying sufficient cash and have only credit cards. the girl said while trying to untie the tabeej Dont worry, you can send the money later at the following address baba took a card from his kurta and handed over to the girl knowing fully that the cost of tabeej may not be more than twenty rupees and he was trapping the girl for future business. Baba not only the money I will kept on informing you the impact on my life telephonically the girl said while thanking the baba The impact will start only when tabeej is tied on your husbands arm also. This is tied on your arm to protect you from many evil forces the baba wanted to be sure of not losing the future customer. Vishnu was engrossed in their conversation when a small child stated crying because of the noise created by three small children who were jumping from one seat to another in the compartment except briefly when they slept. Getting bewildered he left the seat and went to washroom to relieve himself. He could not stand there longer as the sound of the speed of the train was unbearable for him. In the corridor, he was about to open the door for entering the compartment when two gentlemen stopped him. Oh Sir, what is happening around you, now India has also become like a foreign country one gentleman asked him If you feel this is more than enough, why dont you go and ask them to behave Vishnu arrogantly replied as he himself got fed up with his neighbours antics. Without bothering much about their reaction he opened the door of the compartment and returned to his seat. He wanted to give a big lecture to rummy boy and Baba to stop fooling innocent people when he noticed the Train stopping on the New Delhi Station and coolies entering into the compartment. He noticed a tall man in his fifties also jumped into the compartment and came straight to the girl who played cards with the rummy boy.

Deepa my child how was your journey he enquired from the girl. Quite fine Papa with this she lifted her bag from the loft and disappeared from the scene with her father without even bothering to look at the boy with whom she was so comfortably spending the time in the train That boy could not anticipate about what has happened, ran after the girl, leaving his bag behind. But the girl disappeared in the thin air of darkness. Vishnu was wondering about the name of the Girl, Deepa or Ritu, which she has told to that rummy boy. Rummy boy hurriedly returned to pick up his bag and noticed a crumbled visiting card on one corner of the seat where the girl was sitting. He dejectedly picked up the card, looked at Vishnu who just kept his hand on his shoulder in consolation. When Vishnu got down from the train he saw baba talking to his co-passenger and her husband on whose lap a small child was sleeping. Nandu , meet Baba Natrajan he has assured me that we will have a baby if we visit his Ashram she said while taking baby to her shoulder from her husband. Baba Natrajan realised by then that his marketing techniques did not work. Vishnu was totally shocked by the smartness of both the girls. How intelligently they made fool of their co-passengers? He thanked God for saving him from this fiasco. He was wondering whether the speed of the train was faster or smartness of girls. Earlier he was worried about the speed of the train...now he was worried about the speed of girls too. Will it be ok for him to marry a smart girl like the girls he has experienced in the journey? Perhaps not........ He suddenly noticed a person approaching him Are you Mr Vishnu? He was so afraid seeing those girls, he immediately said No sir and proceeded towards the exit to Kashmiri Gate Bus stand to catch first bus back to Dehradun rather than marrying a girl based at Delhi because they appeared to be even faster than speed of Shatabdi Express which can prove disastrous in case of its possible derailment.

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