Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A Stranger Friend

As soon as I got rid of my final year exams, I decided to travel to Pune to visit my elder sister for a relaxing break and also to escape the frosty winters of Delhi. Since I was traveling sans my fun loving brother Rahul (who would always keep me peppy and engaged with his rib tickling jokes, stories, and photography), I knew it was going to be a boring long journey for me. I was really sad with the sheer idea of traveling all alone. 

While I was waiting for the train, zillions of thoughts clogged up my mind and one of the most distracting ones was “who all would be in my coach?” I had already cleared the first test of my patience level when the train arrived one hour late at the platform. As soon as the reservation charts were pasted on the train; the anxious crowd of passengers rushed towards them to check their seat numbers. Somehow I also managed to make my way towards the train and inquired about my coach number.

Thankfully I had a lower berth with a window. The upper birth was occupied by a guy (who was boasting  about his achievements as an advocate) and the opposite births by a Russian couple. The guy looked like a WWF player whereas the girl was very dainty and had a pale and flawless complexion. She greeted me with her tender smile and made me  comfortable and relaxed. She leisurely lay down on the upper birth and her left hand was slipping on the glossy paper of a diary. I wondered what she was she writing about!!  

 While traveling in trains in India it’s not necessary but required to interact with your co passengers. As it was day time person at the upper birth cannot put his seat down unless the person at the lower is fine with it or it’s the time to surrender to sleep.

Mr Advocate was sitting next to me and was looking for a perfect opportunity like a hawk to talk to that Russian girl. Since he could not directly strike up a conversation with her so he started off with impressing his boyfriend. He asked them where they were going, where were they from, what did they like about India and what they didn’t? I could easily make out from the girl’s expression that she was not enjoying that conversation at all and wanted him to just zip his mouth off. She kept looking at me and tried to tell me with simple gestures about how irritating that guy was. Then with a wee smile I told her to ignore him.

Later, she told me she was going to Goa to celebrate Christmas with her partner. And she loved traveling India, loved the beauty and warm people but not the ones like him. I didn’t realise how the time passed off quickly.

Her name was Olga and she hailed from St Petersburg. She was not fluent in English so she preferred explaining things through gestures. We had long discussions about books, politics, India, Russia, food, parents, siblings, love life, and marriage. She told me she was very fond of Hindi movies and absolutely enjoyed watching “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”. Then we exchanged our iPods since she wanted to listen to some Hindi songs.  

Following day when I woke up I came to know we were about to hit Pune station. I noticed Olga was sitting opposite to me and was busy penning down something in her diary.  We had almost reached the station and I could see my brother in law anxiously looking in to the coach and trying to figure out where I was. I moved towards the door and bid adieu to Olga’s boyfriend.

Oblivious to my departure, Olga was still engrossed in her diary. The moment I stepped out I saw Olga following me and requesting me to stop. Her eyes were wet. She gave me a tight hug and handed over a folded paper to me. 

Olga told me how much she enjoyed my company. I introduced her to my brother in law and she greeted him with a cordial Namaste. Since the train was about to leave, Olga once again gave me a warm hug and got in to the train. After the train had left I opened the piece of paper that she had given to me. What all that was written in it gave a lump in my throat. 

“My Dear Rakhi, 

I really had a wonderful time with you. You are my first friend in India. And you made the journey so easy and interesting for me. When you reach home please write a mail to me. Should you ever plan to come to St Petersburg, do let me know. I would just be a call away from you. I will miss you :(

She had written her home address, her telephone number and email id at the bottom of the note. It was not just a piece of paper but one of the best gifts  I had ever received from a friend. I had not thought a mere stranger would become a really good friend in an overnight journey. Olga had indeed made my trip to Pune a memorable one.



  1. It's not everyday that you make a friend like that on a train, but sleazy Indian men are often the cause ;) Interesting story, thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks a lot for your comment and Indeed I agree with you :)This was definitely one of the causes for quick bonding between us. Some Men make traveling really troublesome for gals and this guy was undoubtedly one of them. Gone are those days when one could freely interact and trust co passengers.

  3. "A stranger friend"

    An apt title for a great post.

    Good luck for the contest :-)

  4. thanks a lot for your good wishes :)