Catch the “A” train…

JurongBirdPark_Singapore

That’s impossible! Not quite… It is possible, trust me on that… no doubt, with some difficulty.

Mom: Ok, let me pay the cabbie and you find the coolie first… [don’t worry, he’ll find you before you find him]…
Me: Oops, here’s one already picking up our luggage.
Mom: “Don’t forget to negotiate his labor cost…never mind”

Mom to Coolie: “How much?”
Coolie: “Oh, don’t worry Memsaab, won’t take more from you… just 20 bucks!”
[A loud squeal from Mom!!!]
Mom: “You think we’re new to this city, hmmm?” “I’m not paying you more than 10 bucks”.
Coolie: “Seventeen”
Mom: “No, twelve.”
Coolie: “Ok, ok… fifteen”
Mom: “Forget it! Just leave my bags… go find another customer; we can carry our own baggage.”

Mom to us: “Come on everyone, pick up one bag each.”
Me: “Mom, let’s hurry, or we won’t get seats on the train.”
Mom: “Ok, ok… hey, coolie, fourteen bucks, pick up all four bags and make sure we get a full berth with a window seat.”
Coolie: “Don’t worry”
Mom: “Kids, follow the guy before we lose him in the crowds.”
Me: “Mom, he’s going real fast!”

Coolie: “Memsaab, stand near your bags…wait… I’m off to get your seats.”
Me: “Where are you going, the train’s not on the platform yet!”
Coolie: “Oh, it’s on its way in.”
Me: “How will we find you?”
Coolie: “Do you have a ‘kerchief, a bedsheet?” Mom gives him her scarf. He vanishes in the throngs.

Mom: “I told you people to get ready early so we could get here well in advance and avoid this rush, but nobody ever listens!”
Mom: “Look at the rush… we’ll have to go standing all the way!”

Mom to passerby: “Ouch, can’t you see where you’re going? You just crushed my foot with your metal suitcase!”

Me: What a nightmare… you know what, next vacation I don’t want to go anywhere on the train.
Mom: “Oh, here’s the train, hurry”
Me: “Who’ll look after our bags?”
Mom: “One of you stand here…oh look, there’s the coolie, waving to us… looks like he’s found place for us.”
Mom to Coolie: “Come on out, pick up our luggage.”
Coolie: “You bring them in or your seats will be gone.”
Mom: “What, I’m not giving you fourteen bucks… half the work we had to do ourselves.” Coolie: “Madam, good seats no… pay me five bucks more.”
Mom: “Off you go, take this, or you won’t get this either.”
Me: “Mom, just pay him whatever he wants now and let’s settle in.”

Another Passenger: “Excuse me… but you’re sitting on my seat, I’d just stepped out to fill some water in the bottle.”
Mom: “Oh, come on, I just paid the coolie for these seats…” “Ok, ok, please move a bit, we all have to go, let’s all do some “adjusting”. This is an unreserved compartment, after all. Besides, it’s only a four and a half hours’ long journey.”
Passenger mutters: “Don’t know where all these people come from!”
Mom: “Did you say something to me!”

The whistle’s blown… through its piercing sound we can’t catch the response… the train starts chugging… chug… chug… chug… chug… chug… chug… everybody sighs with relief…

Passenger: “So, how far do you have to go?”

Mom: “Last stop.” “And you?”
Passenger: “Me too”
Mom: “Oh good, we’ll have some company”

A nod and half smiles exchanged…

Mom whispering in my baby ears… “Sit properly, don’t get pushed out of your seat.”

I’m thinking: “Phew, we’re lucky to have found seats; five minutes ago we were gearing up to catch the train!”
Mom’s saying: “Now I can catch my breath.”

Moments later, offering some pears from our hamper, and with a smile on her face, she says to our freshly acquainted companions: “Care to share?”

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