Beside me, an old lady playing the yesterday's MX paper’s crossword puzzle. Though she finished most parts of it, she still stuck with one last word I guess. The word starting with ‘G’, forth box is ‘O’ and ending with ‘E’. No idea for me on what that word is anyway. The very next page has a coverage on the tenth year of commemoration ceremony of Serbian mass killings and another exclusive on a nude celebrity scandal. The lady doesn't appear too much bothered about this page. She is fully into the puzzle.
The train arrived at the platform with near empty. I got into the first compartment as usual. The teenagers have ceased their game, lit a cigar and shared it. Smoking and drinking are considered very normal here in Australia. My in-law used to tease me "You teetotalers don't have a place here mate". Once in a party, when I said I am a teetotaler, my friend offered me a beer! Unsurprisingly for them beer is just another form of water. Enough with the embarrassments, I now changed a bit and even become a big fan of South African Red Wine and getting to know few whiskey brands to cope up ! Now I don't drink whiskey but wines!
I heard the last train announcement before the departure. I started reading the novel which I bought last week. "The Namesake", a contemporary Booker price winner Jhumba Lahiri novel, my friend who recently migrated to New Jersey recommended to read this, claiming every migrant from Asia to western countries should keep a copy of it.
When the train was just about to leave, I closed down the book and stared outside. I noticed a girl running towards the train waving her hand to stop the train. While running, her jacket and handbag slipped in the floor. She said something which must be "Ow shit". Train driver too must have seen her, so he stopped the train. She now bent down, collected all the things on the ground, walked into our compartment. On the way, she gave a big thumb up to the driver, had a big laugh too. Typical Australian!
Incidentally she straightaway rushed to the seat just in front of me. She said a usual "Hi, How you doing?" to me, I delayed my response, confused on whether to say "Good, Your Self?" or "Good, How you doing " back. Most of the times people don't care what we respond anyway.
Lalor station is reached. Few more boarded. Epping line must be the quietest in Victoria in terms of commuters. I moved to window seat to give a room for the guy just got in. I hate the cigar smoke smell; always keep away from the guys jumping into trains. They bring that bad smell with them. He smiled at her, bantered something about the weather, and then tuned his iPod in. By then she already pulled her sweater out. Now although I keep the book open in my hands, I couldn't concentrate on it. I started staring at her completely. She wears a long V cardigan with lace tank top inside. She is little fatter and shorter than most of the Aussie girls of her age. She occupied the whole front seat with her pullover, handbag and jacket. Interestingly she has a bridge piercing with silver pearl. Her water-shine diamond lipstick matches well with her piercings and dress. She was looking outside the window, closely watching the traffic in the high street while humming a song. I think its lady gaga. The lady has not found that word yet. Reservoir reached.
She suddenly turned at me, not sure she realized me staring at her. She gently smiled. I can't remember the rule number three. But still went ahead with my own way.
"Rocking weather, ain't it? U guys having an outing today?" I knew she is traveling alone. So using the word 'guys' to single woman is little odd. Bottom line is I just don't know how to start a casual chat like this.
"Yea, cool ha ... I’m going to Collingwood game, big game for us, isn’t ?"
I hardly follow AFL, simply because I don’t understand the rules. It almost looks like Rugby. Then again I don’t understand Rugby either. All I know is, Aussies are mad at it and Victorians in particular. Fortunately, my niece is a Cats fan and she told some of her favorite players' names to me once.
"Well, I follow cats, Gary is good ..."
"Fair enough! He is a legend, sexy too!”... No wonder why there are many sex scandals in AFL. All the women are behind these footy players and when money and women combine, that's hunting ground for paparazzis.
"Anyway you Indians are cricket crazies, ain't u, I stopped watching the game after Warnee retired" ... These days I never correct people when they mistakenly regard me as an Indian, at times I don't see the difference either !
"Well me neither, I love watching Tennis, Especially Roger’s back hand slices! "
"Roger? I couldn’t stop laughing when he cried at Australian Open last time, Such a shame for a player of his caliber”
"You know, he could be game's the greatest player ever, but still he sleeps with his wife, goes to toilet in the morning, kinda things all of us do usually ... ha " .. I think I am little carried away by now. Some team coach made a similar comment on famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar recently, but probably I timed it wrong.
"Coool, you are such an uncanny! Ohh Gee, What’s that book? Is that "Namesake", wow that's an awesome contemporary, I read it twice!” Surprised with her gesture, I just looked at the book cover again and told
"Oh is it? I just started it”
"Yea its good, my ex boy friend gave it to me .. I loved it, specially that guy...Errgg what's his name? Ahh Gogol, the story line hangs around him and his family !”
"Don't go there please, I just started !, I don't like people telling the story of novels and movies !"
"Yea Yeah I won't reveal the story, you enjoy "
She looks little annoyed with my response. But then of course she doesn't know, I usually struggle to use right vocabulary at the right time. I know many of my colleagues tipped me rude and arrogant behind the backdrops. May be its time for me to change !
She didn't continue the conversation after that. I am back to "The Namesake" now, but my mind is still trying to read her. The fact that she read "Namesake" irked me a bit. She must be a literature fan, reads contemporaries. Now I started observing her little more deep. It’s a mistake to say she is beautiful. ‘Awesome’ could be the right word. She retouched her lips three times already. Also adjusts her cardigan to hide her mild cleavage time to time. Her lace tank is not enough to cover her entire beauty. Is she trying to show it or hide it? I don't know. But whenever she does it, it draws my attention and doesn't help myself taking out my eyes away. She doesn't wear long heels. I think she might just look gorgeous in traditional Indian Saree or even Sudidaar.
The guy next to me already left and now only we three are at our compartment. That lady has given up the puzzle; the word could be a strange one for an Australian. I need to ask it from my father. Sometimes he may know it. Merry station reached.
I couldn't stop myself thinking about her again. She read The Namesake, means she should have had some Indian connection through her ex boy friend. May be he is an Indian too. Who knows, she might have done some research study in Indian contemporaries. Does she know A R Rahman? Jeez, She should like Indian music and food then, the things I can't just live without. Who knows, she well may even get along with my parents too. My father is a conservative, but I am sure she is too good of a person to ignore. Mother might find it difficult to speak in English with her. But I can always teach English to my mother. So that too wouldn't be a problem. Having her will help me moving on with my new life too. In case my case gets rejected, she can still sponsor me. What if she does get to know that I am still living with my parents? Oh my goodness, I should never utter a word about it. May be I should settle my parents to separate place. Let’s see.
She at times turned at me and smiled too or did she? I am not sure. I noticed she got a cute little dimple when she smiles.We are now two stations away from Collingwood. I don't even know her name. I am trying to recall what Will Smith was doing in "Hitch". Nothing comes to my mind now, blacked out. Shall I ask her name? May be "By the way, I am Jake, your good name please", damn, that's too old fashioned, what shall I say. Why don't I ask her for a coffee? mmm even I can join her for the match. I can skip niece's birthday party. Asking coffee would be fine, but is it too early. What if she says "U Bloody I!@#$ns", should I react politely then? Surely she is now single and free. She said she had ex which means she is free now. What was their problem. I am sure he was wrong. May be I will ask her name first and see how it goes.
Next station is Collingwood. Now only two of us are around in the compartment, the lady also left. Its strange on an AFL match day, the whole compartment is empty. Certainly the day meant for us. The weather is also neither too chill nor too hot, perfect for the situation. Now I decided. Let the party go, I am going to the game with her. How could I ask her name? Mmm "Hey I am thinking of coming to the match, U free to join with me?" .. mmm that's bad, May be "Hey, I think it would be fun if we both went together "... Well, it sounds cool, but should I use 'go' or 'went' there? Damn my English. It’s my father who didn't teach me English well. Why everybody got good parents but not me? Forget it, the best thing is to introduce myself and then check with her whether I can join, Collingwood is nearing, Nothing to lose, lets askkk...
"Hey maite.. I kinda thinking, why don't u join with me to the match, May be a coffee after that? Sure gonna be fun ! .Jessie !" -- she offered a handshake, I was shocked and stunned.
“Holyyyyyy Shittttttt .. ”
“Excuse me .. ?”
“No nothing, Oh yeahh, absolutely ... pleasure is mine .. Jake in short JK . errrh.. Jessie !”
"Basic Principles, There are none" -- Quote from movie 'Hitch'