Monday, February 27, 2012

"Hi Miss."

"Hi miss," said the stranger sitting opposite my berth. I don't know when he boarded the train. Maybe it was during the night. He was was right there when I awoke. He seemed to me to be quite a forbearing kind, with no smile or any nod of acknowledgement to a fellow passenger. 
I thought, khadoos (means arrogant) who wants to befriend you anyway?

I looked up to be sure it was me he was addressing. I replied and he asked me if I minded chatting with him? To be honest, I am game for any chat, because talking is so ME. Its like if someone will ask me the time, I will tell him everything from the time I was born to the present time. I know I know, its wrong and I am trying to control it. really, believe me!

"What do you do miss?" he asked.
"I am a housewife, have 2 kids a 11 year old girl and a 9 year old boy, my husband is an exporter, I am coming from Calcutta and going to Delhi, and I am also a stock trader and I love my work because it is self employed and most importantly it keeps me busy, and you?" I answered. (saw the example now?)

"I work in a private company." he replied flatly. Thats it, I looked at him if he was going to offer me more about him.

"So tell something more about yourself?" I pestered.
"I am an old man memsaab. Nothing much to say." he replied.
Me,"well something? Are you married?"
Me,"Ok kids?"
Me,"Ok how many?"
Me,"Boy or girl?"
"Boy. Enough about me memsaab, Lets hear what you do.
Its interesting to see a woman trader in stocks specially, its largely a male dominated thing." he stated. I was a bit sad to see people still think of that about women. I disagreed with him and said, women can do anything as long as it doesn't require heavy physical effort. He nodded, and we went on to discuss the current market situation which was facing a huge financial crisis world wise. Sensex was at 12000, I told him, and I didn't see Sensex falling any further as it had already fallen 50% from its peak. He said," why not sensex at 7000?

I was taken aback. How can it go down so much? I considered myself learned enough and I completely disagreed with him. He didn't challenge me. He just smiled. His attitude of smiling in the face of adversary seemed both intriguing and irritating to me.
I probably had given him more info than required and I suddenly got wary of him. I told him, I generally don't talk to strangers and although I burst if I have no one to talk to, I gave him a subtle hint that if he was only extracting information from me and not giving any then I wont be game for his chat. 

The train had pulled over at Allahabad, some vendors selling tea, samosas, sweets and other beverages boarded and the compartment was full of their chai chai, garam samosa, jhaal muri in an accent which is special to them.
I stopped the chai wala (tea seller) and asked for tea, and he said one for him too. I don't know why I didn't do it myself first but he immediately paid for both of us. I could see he was a gentleman of the bygone era. I insisted to pay him back but he declined in a way that told me that he could not be forced. I quietly sipped my tea.

He gave an amused smile, and asked me my date and time of birth. At first I thought what a question to ask? Then he said it was his hobby to look at horoscopes and he was pretty good at it. There I was being offered a free horoscope and would I behave like any other woman and hide my age? No ways, I gave him the required data.

"Anything I say is likely to be incorrect (this is true of all astrologers). So don't take anything seriously,ok?" he started with this statutory warning. At first I thought there was some bad news about me and I braced myself to what was to follow.

"Extremely wealthy? And you will have lots after the June 2011." he told me..
"Whaaat? er, well yes, I am not poor definitely! My father says I am his lucky child. what else?" It was September 2008, 3 more years to roll in more money and why shan't I not believe this? 
"Fairly good understanding with husband, much above average quality of marriage. Strong martian and a gregarious personality. Overall a very very nice horoscope, the kind I don't see often. I am envious of your horoscope" he said.
"Gee." I was blushing now.
"Where is my commission memsaab?" he said matter of factly.
I hurriedly asked how much? He laughed and said, "2 rupees miss."
"Only?" I was shocked even beggars don't want less than a five rupee coin!
I made a mental note, 5 plus 2, I got to give him 7 back. hmm..

He was quite funny, not at all khadoos as I thought of him earlier. I asked him his phone number (which he didnt give) and told him that I will give him tips on stocks as an exchange to what he had told me about me. This was the least I could do to return the debt (Rs7 to be precise) back. 

After a while he got up took out his slipper and started to walk, I called after him, "hey, you are wearing only one slipper?" He smiled, "I lost it miss, it fell while I was trying to climb the coach."
It seemed he didn't have another or why else would he go barefoot to the toilet. When he returned, I told him he should carry an extra pair while travelling. He smiled again, "I am a fakir miss, had only one, now will have to buy another." I was suddenly guilty of the many shoes I have back home and the 3 pairs which I have to carry, a white, a black and multicolour for matching with my clothes. That 5 rupees must mean a lot for a fakir, but he didn't seem to mind parting with it. Wierd.
Whoa! Are there people like him really?

We were at Etawah and  it was lunch time, I opened my tiffin, I had brought with me fried aloo stuffed parantha. You get that uncanny sense when someone is looking at you intensely. I looked up and saw him stare hungrily at my paranthas. I invited him to eat a parantha, he looked guiltily away and stammered something about being not hungry. I am quite sure that he must have really had his eyes on my paranthas, for the next morning I had severe stomach ache and it is believed that if someone eyes your food hungrily like he was, it is bound to get you sick! 

He was marking something in the newspaper intently, I peeked and saw it was a sudoku puzzle. He told me that though they are classified from easy medium hard to evil, they are godly to him. He explained that its better to be doing something rather than sit idle. I agreed, after all empty mind is a devil's workshop. After that he settled down to read a book, it was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a classic romantic story of all times. The guy had some heart after all.

When Aligarh came, he got up to go. Before leaving he said, "It was nice chatting with you, but you must be a little more cautious of revealing too much about yourself while travelling alone. Bye miss."

After about exactly a fortnight, the sensex plunged to around 7000 levels, if only for a day!! I know, he was just casually mentioning it, but somehow I am intrigued by this mystery man and his simplicity of looking at things. And though I lost some money in the stock market, my husband did go on to prosper in his business and well we are definitely more richer now than we were almost 3 and a half years ago.
He was a strange stranger. I cannot say much about his looks, he was just like any of us, perhaps looked a little older than his 42 years. I know his age because I saw it on the chart outside. But, if any of you know of a simple man, who is good at predicting, plays sudoku, and calls himself a fakir, perhaps loves aloo paranthas, then please contact me here!


  1. I wish I could find you someday, somewhere, to say to you 'Hi Miss'. Much impressed by your intellect. I hope you are at facebook. I am there -

  2. Lovely post - would love to meet this Fakir :)
    Pls do visit my experience of knowing a warm unknown stranger at! and share your thoughts :)