For the Angel Army Buddy contest for March
|I boarded the train at Reading Railroad Station and sat lost in thought when a young man approached me and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said it was not. He sat down and opened a book.
“Do you like to read?” He asked, breaking through my cluttered mind.
“Um, yes. Yes I do.”
“This one’s great,” he closed the book and pointed to the cover. “One of those you can’t put down, you know?”
I pulled a Dean Koontz book from my backpack. “I know what you mean.” I smiled and realized I was the only one of my friends who read all the time - on a plane, during my lunch hour, even in the elevator on the way up to my apartment – any free time I had was spent mostly with my nose in a book.
The young man smiled back at me, “Just finished that one about a week ago. I won’t spoil the ending for you.”
“What are you reading?” I thought a little human interaction might be nice. Most of the time I preferred characters in the books I read over most people I met, but this gentleman seemed polite and interesting.
“It’s called The Class by Erich Segal. It’s about some graduates of the 1958 class from Harvard.” The train pulled out of the station.
“Sounds like maybe that’s one I’ll have to put on my list if it’s a ‘can’t put down’ type. I’ve never read anything by him. What kinds of things do you like to read?”
“I like a lot of different kinds of books – mysteries, crime stories and emotional stories.”
It seemed we had a lot in common in the area of reading. Through our conversation, he revealed his name was Satish and that he was from India. We both liked Robert Ludlum, but some of the authors he spoke of I had never heard of before. I made careful notes of names such as RK Narayan and Rabindranat Tagore, who Satish told me were Indian authors that he enjoyed. I always look for new things to read, so I thought I might try out these authors of whom he spoke so highly. Before we knew it, we were at the next station.
“Dream Visitation Station,” a voice called from nowhere.
“Care to get off and look around, Beckie?” Satish asked me.
“Why not,” I smiled. “My legs could use a stretch. As we walked onto the platform I looked around, wide-eyed. “This place is amazing, Satish!”
“You don’t come here much, then?” He seemed shocked by my lack of knowledge of the station, but did his best to explain it to me. “You can get anywhere from here, anywhere you can dream. It’s truly an amazing stop.”
“Where would you go if you could go anywhere?” I leaned back in the soft grass and soaked in the sun.
“The world really is so huge and there are just so many places I would love to see. But to start off I would love to go for a trek towards the Himalayas. I have seen the pictures of the places from the people who have visited and the beauty is just unparalleled. Will surely do it sooner or later.”
“That sounds really great, Satish. That would be incredible to see. I’m sure you’ll get there one day.”
We sat quietly, just enjoying the birds flitting against the blue sky until it was time to board the train again.
Once on the train, we both were lost in thought – each in our own dream land. The world is such a vast place and there is so much to see, I realized.
“Work Station!” The voice broke through our thoughts. I seemed to be one of the only people who was happy to get off at this stop.
I pulled Satish by the arm. “Come on, we can make this fun, can’t we?”
“You know, I guess we can.” He smiled back finally.
“What do you do?”
“I’m doing an internship with a software company as part of my master’s degree. I really enjoy the technical field.”
“That sounds excellent, Satish! Your master’s degree? Congratulations! That’s got to be so interesting working with technology.” We rambled on about our jobs and he told of things I had only a small grasp of – but that he worked with every day. The Work Station really was a lot of fun when you did something you loved. We were probably the most excited pair as we boarded the train for the next station.
“After working all day, it’s going to be really nice to get some exercise, don’t you think?” Satish offered as the train slowed down again.
“Exercise?” I looked quizzically at him.
“It’s the Kicks and Throws Station!” This time Satish grabbed my arm and pulled me from the train. “Come on, let’s check it out!”
Satish told me he enjoyed playing football, and I agreed to check out that part of the station with him. I’d always been a big NFL fan. When we got to the football area, I realized the “football” he, and the rest of the world, knew was called soccer in the U.S. I’d never been very good at soccer, but we played for a while nonetheless. Satish was right. It did feel good to get out and move around. I missed the ball in a feeble attempt to kick it and Satish held back his laughter.
“This is why I like fishing,” I cackled from my prone position on the ground. Only then did Satish let out a roar of laughter that turned a few heads. He helped me up and we walked back to the train, laughing the whole way. “I’m not very coordinated, I guess.” I offered.
“I’m not the best at these games, either,” Satish brushed some grass off my back. “I just think it’s fun to play.”
Back on the train, I couldn’t wait to see what the next station would be. I was so excited the trip to the next stop seemed like hours, but was really only about ten minutes.
“Super Man Station!” The voice boomed.
“Holy smokes, it’s John Wayne!” I gasped as we exited the train.
“John Wayne?” Satish looked at me. I knew his heroes were different than mine, as his culture was different. I explained “The Duke” and his movies.
“Who do you admire, Satish?” I was excited to learn more about this man. His eyes saw the world from quite a different view than mine.
“We have an actor by name Amitabh Bachan. As you said about John wayne, Amitabh, also would always defeat the bad guy and win the girls heart. Then there was Rajesh Khana, with some move you to tears kind of movies. Amitabh Bachan still acts in senior roles, but his older movies are what I like the most. In today's industry there is a guy called Amir Khan, whose movies always have something special in it. There was one by the name Lagaan, which had come to top ten in the Oscar nominations a few years back.”
“They all sound great, Satish!” I made another mental note to check out these actors Satish spoke of.
“In real world,” Satish continued, “my dad is one person I have always admired. His patience to deal with things, resolve to always do what he believes in no matter how difficult it is are really admirable. Do hope to learn some of his good qualities (Guess It takes some time ).
I also believe that every person we meet in daily life has some thing special in him or her that we can learn, and become a better human.”
I realized that Satish was right. We all had something to learn from one another – and this simple trip had turned into a great adventure since we met.
We boarded the train talking about heroes, real life and movie heroes. It was an animated conversation that had us both lost in the throes of laughter again when the voice interrupted us.
“I’m starving!” we both sang out in unison. Our heads snapped around to look at each other for a split second before we burst into laughter again. We ran from the train as if we were lit on fire.
“Come here, come here!” Satish yelled as we passed vendor after vendor, the flavors of various lands wafting into our noses. Delighted to try some of his favorites instead of my old stand-bys, I ran eagerly after him.
“What do you have for me, Satish?” I asked, taking a stack of carry out containers from him.
“I’ve got all kinds of foods for you here. You’ll just have to try them. I haven’t made many myself, but I love to eat!”
“You’re a man after my own heart, Satish! I love to eat, too!”
As he handed me each container, he explained what they contained, “My favorite breakfast is Idli(made of Rice Batter) sambar , Masala Dosa(Also made of rice batter) . Two dishes which are specialty of the southern India.
For lunch I love to have Bisi Bele bath(Made of Cooked rice and pulses) , and Curd Rice (Cooked rice mixed with curds) .
There a huge variety of fast foods also which I like the best among them pani purei. I can’t really explain it to you. You’ll just have to try it. And this is Pav bhajji. ( its a kind of bread with a mixed vegetable curry). My family eats vegetarian. I hope that’s okay.”
“It all sounds so great! I can’t wait to try them all. Do you like other foods, too, or mainly dishes from India?” My mouth was watering at the aroma.
“As far as dishes of other countries, I like Italian pastas, and sub way burgers.”
“I like Italian, too,” I replied. “But I’m excited to try all of these things.” The train was ready to leave before we were.
“It’s too bad we have to leave so soon,” Satish offered.
“But these are foods I’ll never forget!” I followed after him to board the train once again.
We both stuffed ourselves until we could eat no more. I closed my last carry out container as the train started to slow down again.
“I hope this isn’t another Kicks and Throws Station,” I joked. “I don’t think I could move after what we just ate!”
We heard soft music playing as the train slowed even further. “It’s Treble Clef Junction!” Satish shouted, not waiting for the voice to call out the name. “This is surely one of my favorite stops!”
“Wow!” I got off the train and was astonished by the musical instruments all around us and the beautiful sounds coming from the air. “I love so many different kinds of music.” I felt like a child who just went to the park for the first time. I couldn’t concentrate on one thing for more than a minute. “What are you listening to, Satish?”
He pulled his head out of a booth where he had been listening to some music. “I generally tend to like songs on the softer side, I mean not the heavy rock and stuff. We have had some really great music directors in our film industry some of my faviorite are RD burman, OP nayiar. They are no longer alive but their music will live till eternity. Am not sure if you would like them cause you would not get the language at all, but if you would like to listen, take these headphones. Among today’s music directors I love to listen to A R Rehman (You would have heard his songs from the hugely popular Slumdog Millionaire ).
I also love to listen to Yanni and Kenny G.”
I took the headphones he offered and listened to the sweet music coming out of them. He was right, I didn’t understand the language of the lyrics, but the language of music itself is so much more than that. I was lost in this new genre of music when Satish pulled at my sleeve.
“Time to go,” he mouthed. I put down the headphones and we both ran back to the train.
“I can’t imagine how this day could get any better, Satish! This has been amazing!” My mind was reeling with all of the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of the trip. “I’ve experienced so much.”
“I’ve had a great time, too!” Satish shook my hand. “Unfortunately, I get off at the next stop.”
I knew he could see the disappointment on my face. “What stop is it?”
“The Linguistation,” he said apologetically. “I like to write, so I usually get off at that stop and stay a while. I belong to WDC, you see, and…”
“WDC?” I didn’t wait for him to finish. With all of the fun we had had, I didn’t realize my stop was the next one. “I’m going to the Linguistation, too!” I whooped.
“Really, that’s great!” Satish’s face brightened, too. “What’s your username on WDC?”
“It’s Beck hibernates in winter .”
“Are you serious? I’m bas.”
“We’re Angel Buddies!” We said in unison, our laughter turning heads once again.
“No wonder I’ve had such a great time with you today!” I said to my friend.
“It has been a great adventure, hasn’t it?” Satish smiled back at me. “First stop Angel Army?” he asked, taking my arm.
“Where else?” I grinned.