Friday, December 23, 2011

Nepali currency and noodles

Pre-script:What follows is a tale based on two things-my friend MT went home recently; and she told me when I asked her how the trip had been, that all she could tell me was that her trip was exciting and that the souvenirs she got from it were-Nepali currency and a packet of noodles. So me driven to nuts by my m.tech thesis decided to get some sense into my life by driving some sense into this story. Henceforth 'I' in this story will refer to MT, for this is her story after all...
Statutory warning: This post is long. So people with very limited patience will probably need a few sittings if they do want to finish this one. For the first time I, Leo wouldn't blame you. I tried doing something different and it has turned out a bit long. But this being my work I don't like to chop at it.
Packing and setting off:
There, gifts for mom,dad,grandma check. Damn the bag is bursting, people would think Iam a gulf-returnee.Where is the scarf for the night?ya ok..a book to read?hmm ya packed..I won't be needing it hopefully eh?MT isn't that why you chose to travel in the sleeper compartment so that you could watch the people in this part of the country and their behaviour? That idiot Mawe had warned that this would be an uncomfortable experience, said that it would make me regret it every moment cos there would be hardly any people-observing but a mad desperate attempt to sit in my seat throughout the journey. Ahh..I will prove him wrong. MT can certainly travel sleeper class and will live to tell him that it was a good experience ha!Hey its 11:45 time to go downstairs and wait for the auto. Damn this heavy bag!
 
Oh thank God the auto wallah was on time and the way he is driving I'll probably reach the station in no time. Good job MT..part 1 of journey working well..Oh wait what's this idiot doing! doesn't he see the bus coming ahead?mgod!!noo...Damn!!!that was close..what freaking idiot can drive like this?!Shit that was close! Kalyanpur looks so busy..wonder when this selling and buying and crowd ever vanishes during the day..Oh the dust..pooh..who am I kidding..from Coimbatore to Kanpur, it seems like dust is following me everywhere. Oh old-lady-with-pots bike behind you! bike behind you! damn that was close. Every one in this mad place seems to be driving the way he/she wishes. Wonder how many reach their homes each night! I'll just close my eyes till I reach the station; I can't watch any more of this- oh wait MT what about your resolve to study this land and its people?; remember these are the very people you were bent on studying. Damn! Oh God just get me to the station in one piece! Oh wait why is the auto slowing down? Crap! jam-in the middle of the day - at bloody 12! oh yeah train has crossed; why didn't I think of it before? Every  time a train crosses, its a jam on Grand Trunk Road - wise old saying in Kanpur. You'd think they were running on the road!Ooomph oh will you idiots please turn off your smoke belching engines? Wish their a/cs could circulate this smoke inside their cars, then probably they will remember to take them for a smoke check every 12 months atleast..Ahh moving ahead finally..Ravatpur...Parade..every where the humdrum of life-nice..Ahh..Railway station at last!!

Hmm now to find the platform. What? platform 4? C'mon luggage you and I have a long way to go. Ahh as untidy and ugly and crowded as ever-Kanpur railway station how else can you be? Still I don't think I'll enjoy you as much if it were not for these crowds you know. Without them you are just another colonial style station, just like Coimbatore and Chennai and all the others, with your arches and overhead covers. Elegant still, but not quite interesting without this crowd you know. Ahh platform 4 at last; lemme see.. the train is half an hour late so it will probably arrive at 2:15. Time to find a place to sit - half an hour is not bad considering that trains have been known to be running half a day late in these parts eh? Mgod what a large family that is! looks like four brothers and their entire families - yeah one,two.....ten kids..yeah about right..haha that's small in these parts..Must have come for a wedding by the looks of their shiny sarees. Oh who am I kidding, the women over here wear shiny sarees all the time - probably more festive the occasion more the shining, though I'll be bewitched if I can differentiate the degree of shining! Thought that only Rajasthani folk wear bright sarees but it seems the whole of North India has taken up the competition. Urchin group approaching; uh-oh MT get some change ready. When will this ever stop? On one hand we have people buying Porsches and on the other kids like this living and dying without knowing what it is to have a good life let alone sit in a Porsche. People going through entire lives in a parallel world! 

"Gaadi no do paanch aat nau char Ghorakpur se Thiruvananthapuram tak jane waali Raptisagar express 4 no platform par 2bajkar painthalees minute pahunchegi.yathriyoon ko pahunchi asavudha par keedh hei.Train no 25894 Raptisagar express from Ghorakpur to Thiruvananthapuram is running late by 1 hour and is expected to arrive at 2:45. We regret the inconvenience"
Damn another half an hour to go..Will Mawe arrive by the time this bloody train comes?Anyway back to people-watch MT.

There comes the train, finally. Now where's S7?
"Bhaiyya wo mera seat hei. dhekiye seat 53 mera hei."(That's my seat please get up. See seat 53.)
"Beti hum Jhansi tak hi hein. Adjust to kar lena sab ko jana he tho he."(Iam only going upto Jhansi please adjust. Doesn't everyone have to travel?)
Only here in India could anyone get away with saying such a dumb excuse and flashing a pan-coloured toothy smile at the same time.Damn! now I'll have to put up with this guy till Jhansi. How about getting atleast my berth secure? That atleast should be dealt with without any doubt.
"Uthar jhaiyiye dheko ye mera berth hei. Aap neeche akke bhait jhaiyiye"(Please get down from the berth. That's mine.)
Ugly guy on upper berth just looks on as if he hasn't heard anything.
"Arre kyon usko pareshan kar rahe ho. Uthar jhayiye, ye unka seat he. Uthar jhayiye" (Thank goodness uncleji from nearby seat has turned good samaritain. Ugly guy from upper berth is getting down. What if I can't secure my seat for now, atleast Iam safe for the night in my berth.)
"Thank you uncle"
"Arre kuch nahin betti aap ki to seat he"(Oh its nothing beti. After all its your seat.)

Ah finally captured berth. Mawe was right eh? Its pretty crowded here. Looks like half of North India has decided to suddenly move. Uncleji and his wife and their daughter,ugly guy seems to be travelling alone-going to set up business in the South or just looking for a job?you can never tell...idiot who took up my seat,Muslim guy with long beard with his son - also in white-and-white - is it mandatory that they dress in salwar and kurta?must be orthodox types.And who is this opposite me?Is he a Nepali or just someone from the northern part of U.P? Hmm well shaven and dressed moderately..has had a haircut too and real trim too..dressing has a sense of neat-strictness to it, that's an oddity. No pot-belly so business-man is ruled out, c'mon that's the regional profession of North India, what else is there? Tell me not-so-old man where are you from?across the border in Nepal or this side of the border in Garhwal? and what is it that you do?'cos whatever it is you are the odd-one-out here...Oh well MT you will just have to wait and find out won't you?

Hmm uncle and aunty have decided to have supper. Where has this train reached?Bhopal?
"Khaana nahin kha rahi ho beti?"(Stranger from opposite berth has spoken)
"Huh?haan abhi kuch hi dher mein.gaadi kahan pahunchi he?"
"Abhi to Bhopal pahunchi he. Agar kuch khareedhke khaana he to kareedh lo. Agla stop Nagpur bahut dhoor he. Udhar jhane mein khafi dher lagegi."
"Oh haan.."
Will have to do with Poori and dal MT. God don't let this ruin my stomach. Stranger guy has brought his own food. All wrapped up - and neatly unpacked. Oh shouldn't stare..sorry stranger-guy; just curious as to who you really are. Dinner over, now time to sleep.

Yaaaawwwn..where have we reached? goodness its 7a.m already, how I have slept! Is everything I bought still with me? Oh thank goodness, slept like a log; thieves could have had a party here and I wouldn't have known. Stranger-guy's up, he's reading a newspaper..hmm..a man aware of his surroundings..c'mon stranger-guy out with your mystery. Oh..should brush.
"Aap newspaper padna chahengi?"Crap stranger-guy caught me staring(Would you like to read the newspaper?)
"Nahin. aap padke dheejiye."(No please finish it and then I would like it please.)
"Yeh leejiye. Aap kahan jha rahe hein?"(Here. I am done. Where are you going?)
"Coimbatore aur aap?"(Coimbatore and you?)
"Mein tho Chennai jha raha hoon."(Iam going to Chennai)
"Acha Chennai jha rahe hein. Udhar business kar rahe hein?"(Oh you're going to Chennai? Are you doing business there?)
"Nahin business nahin, udhar ek hotel mein chef hoon-The Noodle Shop"(No not business. Iam a chef at a hotel there-'The Noodle Shop')
"Oh mein aya hoon udhar. kuch 6-7 saal pehele. Aap the us samay vahan?"(Oh I've come there. Some 6-7 years ago. Were you there at that time?)
"Haan bilkul. Hum vahan 2000 se hein. Ab gyarah saal hue hein."(Yes. Of course. I have been there from 2000. Its been eleven years now.)
"aap kahan khe hein."(Where are you from?)
"Beti mera gaun nepal mein he. Chitwan district mein."(Beti my village is in Nepal. In Chitwan district.)
"Oh gyarah saal. yahan akar kafi saal hue hein na?"(Oh eleven years! Its been a long time since you came here!)
"Haha India aur mera rishta kafi purani he bhitiya. gyarah saal to kuch nahin. Hum idhar aye te 1977 mein, enlist karne Indian Army mein. Fir 2000 tak theyees saal Gurkha Regt. mein. Sune ho Gurkha Regt ke bare mein?"(Haha..My relation with India is much older. I had come here in 1977 to enlist in the Indian Army. Then I till 2000 I served in the Gurkha Regt. Have you heard of the Gurkha Regt?)
"Haan Haan wow. Tho apne kafi exciting jeevan bhitaya he uncleji?"(Oh yes. wow. Then your life must have been quite exciting uncleji)
"haha haan kafi exciting! theyees saal India ke shandhar regimenton mein se ek mein aur nikhala Lance Naik Bhupendra Nath bankhe."(Haha exciting indeed! 23 years serving in one of the finest regiments in the Indian Army and left it as Lance Naik Bhupendra Nath.)
That explains it. The sturdy posture, the trim hair-line..some habits never change..the strict dressing. The configuration below has changed with 'idiot' probably getting down somewhere in the night and an elderly couple taking his place. They are taking out a large nylon basket. Oh I should have guessed rotis and sabji. So this must be the food-bag for the journey; God now they will eat their way through this one.Oh and all spicy food too, mgod I am stuck on top! all that potato and groundnut will surely convert to gas?!

"Chaai...chaai, sirjee chai piyenge"(Tea! sir will you have tea?)
"Haan ek cup deejiye, beti aap bhi piyengi?"(Yes please.. (to me)Will you have tea too?)
"Nahin uncleji..aap peejiye"(No thanks uncle.)
"yeh leejiye panch rupaiye"(Here's five rupees)
"yeh kya bhaiya - nepali rupaiye nahin chalenge"(Brother Nepali currency doesn't work here)
"offho galti ho gayi. dheejiye ye raha panch rupaiye"(It was a mistake, return it, here's 5 rupees)
"uncle khya mein use dhek saktha hoon?"(Uncle can I look at that note?)
"kyon nahin yeh leejiye. mere pas kafi pade hue hein"(Yes why not,here; I have plenty of them with me.)
"Ye Nepal ke raja the na?"(This was Nepal's king right?)
"Han abhi yeh chal base hein. Log unhein kafi pyar karthe the"(Yes but he has died. The people loved him)Aapka notes ka collection he shayad.rak leejiye. mere pas kafi hein(Looks like you collect currency. keep it I have plenty with me.)
"nahin rak leejiye. nahin tho muj se iske liye apko indian rupee lene padenge. agla chai mere aur se"(No I couldn't or I could give you Indian rupees in exchange. I could buy you the next tea in return.)
"haha teek he"
"yeh kya hei aapke haath mein jala hua nishana he. Hotel mein cooking ke beech hua tha kya?"
"Oh yeh! hmmm..yeh koi cooking ke wajah se nahin he ji, ye tho kafi saal purane ki baath he"(Oh this. This is not from a cooking accident. This is from something much older)   What's that dreamy look coming to his eyes?
"Oh meine socha, ke aap jho Chinese cooking mein tawa go gumathe hein, uske beech thel girne se ya kuch aise hua hoga. Jyadha personal baath he tho sorry, math bathayiye please"(Oh I had thought it was probably from oil flying off the pans when you swirl them in the chinese style of cooking, or something like that. I'm sorry please don't tell me if its something personal.)
"nahin aisa kuch personal baath nahin he. Iske baare mein sochke kaafi samay ho gaya he. Bahut sal purane ki baath he. Aap sunna chahengi? Ab tho mein buddha hoon, par ye jab hua tha tho jawan tha, shareer mein aur peshe mein bhi..haha"(No its nothing personal. Its just that no one has asked me about this dfor a long time and I had stopped thinking about it. Its from a time quite long ago, Would you like to hear about it? That was at a time when I was quite young and still a jawan in the Indian Army)
"Sahi mein? tho bathayiye. mujhe aisi kahaniyan bahut pasandh he"(really? please tell me more. I like such stories)
The train was passing over a gorge it seemed. There was such noise along with the rit-rat-tattling of the wheels. It was quite dark in the top berth but I was so hooked onto this story now, that nothing mattered. Not 'new' uncle and aunty seemingly battling over who would eat more groundnuts and litter the floor. I had kept a wary eye over the proceedings till now and it seemed that uncle was 'winning', but aunty was showing no signs of relenting. But I cared for nothing other than this old man's story now. What beats a fauji(army) story anyway?

"Then listen. As I said this happened a long time ago when I was still a jawan in the Army-3rd Gurkha Rifles. a well-trained infantry unit. There was pride in being a Gurkha. It is the case with every man in a regiment- a sense of pride and loyalty to his unit. We were posted in Kashmir at the time. Somewhere in Batlik sector. Life was harsh. There is no place as beautiful and as painful as Kashmir. For one thing, the place is beautiful, but the people have gone through a lot in their lives. Life as you know is harsh over there, a struggle to live in some parts. What with the terrorist activity in the region, life is sacred to the people there and our lives were intermingled with the lives of the people there. It was a very stressful period, when you are always on the highest alert everytime you are on duty and that happpened every day; it was enough to drive normal people half-mad. In the armed forces that's a way of life and it has to be come to terms with. My unit was headed by Capt. Rajesh Sinha, a young officer but very caring and at the same time strict with us jawans. We enjoyed our time with him. He was quite frank, open, no room for doubt and life was simple for him and that suited us as well. Its when you have a good superior officer that life becomes bearable in the army. Barrack life was good; me,munnah, chalu, everyone, it was one for all and all for one there. Everyone owed their life to everyone else and it was simple that way. We would go out on sortees on recconaisance according to our duty-schedule.

It was the height of winter in the valley; snow was falling covering everything feet deep. That day our unit had to go on a recce and we set off in our truck for the first leg of the journey, till the outskirts of the village we were in. One round of the village and there was no sign of anything unusual. We headed out to the outskirts, where we left the truck and headed out on foot over what was once a goat-track, through the snow. There were houses ahead in the hills and we would check up on them as we passed, and out into the wilderness and the hills beyond. We had food for two days in the wild as we would probably have to camp out for a night or two. As we passed the houses nearby there was no sign of any untoward activity and the locals waved at us as we passed. We reached the last of the houses where the local head informed us that all was well, but we'd better check on Amjad Ali's house as we went as he had not seen Amjad or his wife Rani for quite a few days, and since there had been a blizzard was not able to go check himself. We thanked the chief and as we walked ahead, the captain called us together and explained that it was probably nothing but we had be a bit careful about this last piece of news. True, a blizzard could have kept people estranged but there had been news of possible terrorist crossings into the region, and a missing persons report is a possible sign of trouble. This put everyone on a new sense of alert and we continued forward. Amjad was a goatherd who lived in the hills ahead. He lived with his wife and their daughter Shamjana and theirs was the last house in the trail, quite removed and in the hills. We started climbing and each breath was a spike to the chest. The snow was falling thick and we were actually thankful, for, in our present condition it would mask our arrival if there was anything more to the chief's story. We split into two columns and each man scanned the area around him as he walked. About a 100 yards from the house and deep into the thicket surrounding it, the captain signalled for us to halt. We were surrounded by sal trees and brush vegetation, all covered with snow and the house was yet to come into view.

The captain explained the plan- we would split into two groups. One would approach the house from the front and the other from the rear, and both would take cover in a 25 m radius from the house. The lives of the family was top priority. It was agreed that we would draw the terrorists out of the house if possible and start shooting. But first we had to check whether they were really in the house and it was decided we would start a natural reaction - get the goats to make some noise maybe and Munna would be in place to intercept Amjad/Rani if they got out. But if it was anyone else he would be given a signal by the group infront and he would go into hiding by the goat-pen. A sniper would take out a terrorist if he came out alone/accompanying the inmates after giving making sure that the man gave his companions an all-clear signal. For it was clear that only confusion could give us the edge here. Once the man outside was taken out, we would storm the house within five seconds; one team through the front and the rear. The confusion was the only way we could save the inmates in a hostage-situation.The two teams split, me among the one going via the front, the other circling outwards to the rear. The approach now was even more measured; no one knew if there was a sentry lying in wait. The house came into view and no sentry was spotted,perhaps they thought that the snow was enough to keep away visitors; if they were there that is. We found cover facing the house and the sniper got into position. Munnah circled around to the goat-pen taking care not to disturb the goats until he was in position. He was to try and ascertain by  listening at the windows the location of the enemy if there were any, and signal to the captain by hand signals, who would then relay the info to the team at the back by radio. It was a two room house and the location of the enemy would greatly help the operation. The localites had been educated to show distress signals if they were in situations like this. Vital info including the number of men inside and locations if possible could be conveyed by simple waving of hands and such. So if Amjad/Rani got out and if they were under duress they would signal discreetly in hope that someone was watching - that was our only hope of this ending fast. I said a silent prayer - asked God to save us and the family inside. The moonlight was filtering through the trees and the snow, giving a diffused light and eerie look to the whole scene. Everyone trained their breathing, it was vital we concentrated to the hilt, and getting our hearts to beat easy was vital.

All eyes saw the house through the view points of their rifles, each a different location, ready to strike. The snow was falling heavily now and it was really difficult to see anything. I thanked my strenuous training - there was a time this snow and the hours of sitting in a position would have broken us - but not now. As we squinted through our scopes, the captain's whisper broke through the dead-silence only barely audible "Munnah says he can't hear anything. The glass and the walls must be too thick. I'm relaying the info to the bravo team. All eyes on their target area. Dhillu(he was our sniper) the door!" "Yes sir. All set sir." Five whispers back. I could her the capt. relaying the info to bravo team. Munnah would start disturbing the goats in a 25 sec window which would probably get over now. As the goats started bleating I saw the front door opening and Rani walking out. She was carrying a kerosene lamp and as I watched she covered and uncovered the lamp in quick succession. Damn, that was the distress signal! She was followed by a man in an overcoat a few steps behind. Munnah had seen this from his position and taken cover. Rani got the goats to stop and the man looked around to make sure it was safe. He turned back and yelled "koi nahin". As the duo turned back to the house, Rani in front, Dhillu got his man. Clean, and as he fell Rani jerked and turned around but continued on inside - brave lady, but there was probably something going on inside that she couldn't leave - probably a hostage situation. As she reached the front steps though, we saw someone reach the front door, it was too quick and there was a cry of alert and she was pulled inside - they had seen the body. There was a hail of gunfire as we tried to gun him down. The door slammed shut. Even as the capt. roared into his radio to 'bravo' "surprise out plan B", there came shots from inside.

The windows were flung open and bullets rained towards all directions from inside . We launched our reply each man taking a specific area, praying that he didn't hit one of the inmates and leashing out hell. The rear was a picture of silence, not a bullet came from the bravo team - that was plan B. Snow flew in all directions as bullets zipped into it. The still mountain air was broken by the rattle of semi-automatics and the tree trunks around us shattered as bullets sank into them. We dug in deeper and returned fire. For five to ten minutes, I don't know it seemed like eternity, it was pure hell. Shards of rocks and bark flying and snow too and we kept to our positions. It was then that it happened - there was a loud explosion from inside and then - bhaamm! fire was seen through one of the windows. Either one of us had hit something explosive or they had done it. As we looked at the capt. for instructions, each man dreading the same thing - what of the ones inside?, he signalled-"wait" and seemed for a few seconds to be listening. There it was - gunfire from the rear. Those cheap bastards!! they had tried to distract our attention and tried to make a get-away. With that the capt. signalled us, three to  the front, and two to the sides to make a 'cleaning-up' run. None of the bastards should escape. Me and two others ran to the front in zig-zags. We were to storm inside and rescue the hostages if any and 'clean-up' if required. We slung low as we ran to the door getting no gunfire. One of the guys kicked the door down as two of us stood guard on either side. We swung in from either side and scanned the house. There were no signs of any terrorists, but we were recieved with a blast of the burning inferno. We could see the family hunched over at one of the corners,  tied to a shelf which was already burning. We rushed in and as we crossed into the room parts of it started falling, burning. I reached them first and I cut the ropes of the trembling couple and unconscious child with my 'khukri'. As my partners helped the couple up I swung the unconscious kid onto my shoulder and started to make my way out when it happened. A part of the wooden beam broke off and the burning embers fell onto my hand. I jerked my arm free and managed to shift the child out of reach but my shirt caught fire. I ran out of the house with the child and putting her onto the ground sank my hand into the snow. I managed to put out the fire on my shirt but I did get burns -  the marks of which you see now.

All in all the mission was a success. The cowards - six of them including the one we gunned down in front in the beginning, had come over in the dark a few days before just when the blizzard started, and had captured the house and forced the family into submission. As we thought, they, after being alerted by the body, had tied up the family and started firing. When it seemed that they were outnumbered they fell for our plan and thought there was no one in the rear and could make an escape. That's when they blew up a petrol bomb to create a diversion and ran outside from the rear. Of course bravo team had let them take a few steps to get the whole gang outside before clinically gunning them down. They had talked of raising terror in the valley and beyond from what the couple told us. The child had been knocked unconscious after she had been slapped by one of the gunmen while tying her hands and probably from the shock of the final explosion. She responded to our first-aid and we swung into putting out the fire immediately. We did help in rebuilding their house and became good friends with the family and with young Shamjana in due course. Nice kid she was. Ha! that's that, but beti that is how I got these burn marks on my fore-arm."

"Wow uncle mujhe pata nahin kya kahna he. Aap ki kahani kafi thrilling aur katharnak hei. Aap ke jaise jawan log hi is desh ko ab bhi suraksha kar rahe hein. Thank you."(Wow uncle I  don't know what to say. You story was thrilling. It is army people like you who are keeping this nation safe still. Thank you.)
"haha kuch nahin beti. yehi hamara kaam hei aur jeene ka maksat bhi"(That's alright beti. That's our job and our goal too, what we live for.)
Lost track of time. That was some story and to hear it from someone who was actually there! What a treat! Ah the lights are coming on - goodness its already seven, how time has flown.
"To fir aap chef kaise bane?" (How did you become a cook?)
"In 2000 I decided to take voluntary retirement. I was good friends with the cook in our unit- Balu a South Indian. He too left with me. It was he who suggested that we could set up a business in partnership in Chennai. And that is how 'Noodle Shop' was set up with some of the cash we got from our retirement money. I brought some friends and relations from Nepal to work in our venture and he has some people he knows working there too. Altogether it has been a good venture so far. We have very recently got orders to either send chefs or supply to one of the 3-star hotels in the city."
"oh woh to acha hei" (that's nice)

 "Hmm..life has been good so far....There is one thing I haven't told you though. And the more I see you the more I think of her. I have a daughter Kusum and she looks very much like you. You are probably of the same age I think. She is going to college, studying B.Sc at Chennai. And it is for her that her grandma has sent all this food here(points to his bag)..haha..loves her...infact wait..I have something for you too. Here (opening the bag and taking a packet)-Nepali noodles, you should have them as a gift from me."
"No mein yeh le nahin sakthi aur yeh apke beti ke liye hei."(No I can't accept this. Besides it is for your daughter.)
"haha use to kafi baki hei aur woh jab chahe mujhse bana leti hei. tumein dhek kar usi ki yaadh aa rahi hei. yeh leejiye mere aur se ek chota tofa..na mat kahiye."(haha..she has enough left. Besides she makes me make her these whenever she wants. You remind me of her. You should have this as a small gift from me. Please don't say no.)
"Dhanyawad."(Thank you)
"Boil it with water and eat. No masala required. Its all there. It will be the best you have ever eaten. My mother- her grandma is a fine cook"
"oh..ok"(grinning from ear to ear)
Must get up to wish 'uncle' goodbye at Chennai.
"Good night uncle"
"Good night beti"

Ah! Chennai at last.
"Beti hum jha rahe hein. Apna kyal rakna. Fir kabhi milenge(beti Iam going. Take care. Will meet again someday.)
"Bye uncleji. Fir milenge. Apne beti ko bhi mere shubhkamnayein dhena jaroor."(bye uncle. Will meet again. Give my regards to your daughter too.)
And like that he was gone. And next I woke up to my alarm vibrations as the train was nearing Coimbatore. As I pushed my way out of the train and to my waiting parents, I realised that his story will stay with me forever.