Oviya and Panimalar wanted to travel by train. We usually travel by car or bus. Our native is nearby and we never plan the vacation trip in advance. So, Train travel is very rare. I promised the kids to take them on a ride in the local train. As per our plan we set out on a saturday afternoon to travel aimlessly till the last station from our place.
We reached the nearby station and there was a train which was about to start. The kids wanted to get into that. Wait. We have to take ticket first. For which Ovi replied, we will get into the train and the conductor will come and give us ticket. (as in a bus, which she is used to). No dear, the system in train in different. We need to take ticket before entering the train and we turned towards the ticket counter, where there was a small queue. By the time we took the ticket, the train left. The kids were almost in the verge of crying for missing the train (as if that is the only train on earth) and i had to convince them that there are lots of train and another one will arrive in 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes were like 10 hours for them as well as me. There were umpteen questions regarding the train, what it is made of, how it runs, who rides it, about signals, speed breakers, about the train track, how/where will they fill petrol for it, etc, etc. (all related to their known mode of road transport).
Oviya took this photograph of the compartment which we entered and continued her question session.
Ovi: Why is a girls photo painted on the train?
Me: Its ladies compartment dear.
Ovi: Is there a separate boys compartment? In a train, how many are girls and how many are boys compartment?
Me: There are no specific boys compartment. Those are general compartments where everyone can enter.
Me: It is like that Oviya. If you want we will sit here. Or we can even go to other compartments. What do you want to do?
Ovi: We are all girls. We will sit here itself.
The train has not yet started and being a saturday afternoon, it had only very few passengers. The kids have started becoming restless as to when the train will move. I was almost exhausted even before the journey started. Then a group of college students entered the compartment. There were few boys in that group. It was a saturday afternoon and the train was empty. So no one would mind those boys in the ladies compartment. But, Ovi started questioning me.
Ovi: Amma, you said its girls compartment, then why are those boys here. Ask them to go to their compartment.
She was asking me this in her full pitch, that the boys itself would have heard her question.
Me: (whispered in her ears) That’s okay Ovi. Talk softly. It’s not good manners to be harsh at strangers. There are so much empty seats in the compartments. They all must be friends. So they are all traveling together.
Any amount of my talk did not convince her. She continued to ask me the same question again and again in full tone. I was trying to convince her and the gang must have understood the situation i think. They all left to other compartment. She didn’t leave me until they left. By then the train also started to move and her questions diverted to how many stations are there? why there are so many stations? who constructed all those? how many trains are there in total? etc., etc., The co-passengers had a nice time listening to our conversation.
We reached the end station and showed her the other trains that were waiting there for other destinations and we had some snacks and returned home. I choose an auto for our return journey. I didn’t have the energy to undergo the whole thing again. For the whole episode, the little one was just a spectator listening to her sister’s question and my answers. She will repeat the same question that her sister asked me. On the whole, a tiring experience for me and an informative experience for the kids. That’s what Ovi told me at the end of the day. She got so much information it seems.