It's strange how I meet these types in trains. While I have written about some of these types who - I thought - existed only in movies and stale comedy shows, this time it was downright hilarious. On my recent trip to Kerala, I mean. It was something out of a Mollywood movie.
There was this army office who got into the Durondo to Ernakulam with a quarter of whisky, or more, in him. And next to him there was this officerly man with his wife and daughter. After dinner wifey - mine - and I lay down to sleep, as did the others. The inebriated officer was supposedly sleeping on the lower berth opposite mine. There is a passage and next to that are the two seats of the officerly man, now occupied by his dowdy-looking wife. Her husband lay down on the berth opposite mine, which was above the army officer's.
This officer, being sloshed, was writhing a lot, the whisky churning inside him. In the night the woman sat up and alleged that he had touched her. The husband came down, caught the army officer and slapped him. They were tight slaps administered dexterously, as if by the police. Then, I still don't believe it, nor would you, he unbuckled his belt to beat his adversary who was threatening to call the police.
The coach attendant came hearing the commotion and offered to call the ticket checker. This rather authoritarian man checked tickets and asked for identification. The army officer turned to be a captain and the officerly man turned out to be an officer, a big shot, in the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The ticket checker didn't know what to do with two government officers and said that they would have to get down at the next station if he complained to the control room.
The IB officer then sensed the situation would get ugly if he and family were stranded in some godforsaken station in the Konkan and said he was sorry. The army officer, too, sensing that the situation had gotten out of hand, offered to move to another berth. The man sleeping in the berth above mine offered to take the vacated berth below.
Now both government officers were in opposite bunkers near the roof. I thought again a war of words would ensue with fistcuffs being the final resort. I steeled myself for this assault.
Hm, nothing like that happened. Apparently both realised they were employees of the state and started exchanging hesitant pleasantries, which then escalated to a camaraderie which I have not even seen in childhood friends.
Happy ending? No, there is an unsettling ending to this saga. The newly made friendship resulted in chatter throughout the night while the rest of us - including wifey - spent a restless night turning hither and thither on our narrow beds.
No sleep was had by anyone of us in the coupe. More of these travel anecdotes later, friends, keep reading....