I like longwinded reserved-in-advance-because-not-hardcore-enough train journeys for the environmental bragging rights as much as the flooded toilets and miniaturised trashcans. I was told IRCTC has started mentioning these in the second page (or third, I don't want to remember) of the totally multipage PrintEticket.pdf, right under the multicolour ad for a hotel cheaper than a half-decent print-out of the PrintEticket.pdf. I have this thing of printing out colour PDFs in colour and the black and white ones at half the size. Don't ask. Then I started looking for the "agree to terms and policy while we remove your left kidney and replace it with a life-size nendran banana ripened with Sulfur and whatnot" and failed after the third try. I wish they did the same thing to SMS confirmations and sent a minor Murakami novel sized text along after each booking, and employed unemployed graphic/interaction designers to slyly infiltrate them with links to paid porn sites and whatnot.

The four old ladies, Gujarati and clad in overflowing headdresses and unapologetic laughter and keeping the lights on till midnight lent an unmistakable AnjaliMenon vibe to the whole journey. I climbed up to my sideupper and waited for the coach to go up in purple Dakshin-Railway smoke and a bubbly vatful of stuff of questionable pedigree to appear any minute while the last of the MealsOnWheels guys peddled leftover dinners and overpriced tapwater in classy plastic bottles. I couldn't tell when my disappointment segued into much undeserved sleep and it was morning already and the toilets were appropriately flooded and the miniaturised trashcannots.

The old ladies retained their highvolume laughter and what appeared to be inside jokes from the outside and mercilessly ignored yourstruly all the way till Panvel where two of them get down and the third go wait at the door for an illicit stop at Diva. Then the last of them tell me they are old schoolmates and Kalupur has a shrine where they go once in a while and I should get married and they do these trips often and have been to places I have not been to and why am I not settled yet and they had gone to Munnar and the weather was nice and sorry for laughing so loud all the way and especially inside tunnels and I should probably go wait at the door for the stop at Thane because the crowd is insane and one should not jump off moving trains on account of old ladies apologising for laughter and having a good time.

I tell her it is hard to imagine myself doing the things they are doing at their age and she smiles that comment away and laughs and looks out the window into the sunset behind tall buildings and flyovers and hoardings for jet black phones and unlimited storage space for all your memories at very low EMIs.