March 29, 2006

The ku-ku and the teel teel

A few notes from a recent trip.


At Dadar station, we wait to catch our train to Nagpur that starts from VT. Indicators are strung out along the platform to tell us where each coach will be. Except from the 13th coach onwards, where it seems they ran out of whatever it is they need to string up the indicators at the usual regular intervals. So the indicators for coaches 14 and up are all bunched together in a 20-foot space above our heads. Naturally our coach is one of that bunch.

Still waiting, we find we have to get rid of a box of Frooti that the son wolfed down. My wife sets off to find a trash can. She takes so long, we fear she will miss the train. When she returns, she tells us she had to walk nearly till the end of the platform before she found a can. No wonder the more sensible people around us simply drop their empty Frooti boxes, and assorted other trash, at their feet or on the tracks.


One of the first signs we see entering Nagpur advertises the "Dhanvantri Child Guidace and Speech Tharapy Centre."

Nearby you can find "Taxi Service 24 Hourse".

And the A-Z Repairing Centre claims to be able to repair "Vaccume Cleaner, Eleetric Press and Emergeny Light."

And Frend's Associates has for sale "Hardwear and Senetary Wear".

Hey, anyone offer spelling classes?


Some hours later, having passed the road sign that tells us "Your Hurry May Make Burry" (spelling classes, please), we are at a gate to the Tadoba Tiger Reserve. The lone man manning the gate refuses to let us in, because it is still 45 minutes till the time he is authorised to open the gate to visitors.

But we have a reservation to stay inside here, I say, and we have two kids who are tired of the journey. Please let us in!

Much pleading later, he walks into his little hut, picks up a radio handset and says into it: "Sikki galli ku-ku ku-ku? Sikki galli ku-ku ku-ku?"

I ask him what on earth he's doing. He points silently to a lone word scribbled in Hindi on the wall, it says "Sikki". Apparently this particular entry point is referred to by the forest people as "Sikki", and this is his call to someone in there. Not so different from "Sikki calling, come in, come in!" or some such. He's trying to ask somebody inside the reserve if we do indeed have a reservation.

So: "Sikki galli ku-ku ku-ku?" Goes on for long minutes. By way of variation, he sometimes says "Sikki galli teel teel teel!" But mostly it's the "ku-ku". And either way, nobody is ku-ku-ing back.

Until a young man walks into the hut, looks down at the battery that powers this device, moves the lead about and holds it in a particular position. Suddenly someone else is ku-ku-ing back, and confirms our reservation.


Some days later, entering Chandrapur, we pass a school bus labelled "Providence English School. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

Dunno about fearing the lord, but I'm downright afraid of that slogan.

1 comment:

Niket said...

"walk nearly till the end of the platform before she found a can."
Well, at least on local platforms each chaiwalla has a trash. I remember making an attempt to carry a plastic bag with myself during my undergrad days, to collect trash and throw it on reaching Borivli. Gave up after a couple of weeks.

Unrelated: Is there specific reason why comments are closed on several posts on "the other india"? Not that I wanted to comment... just wondering.