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Kurdha Road Junction (standard:travel stories, 1028 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Apr 20 2011Views/Reads: 1715/901Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story of traveling back to campus for start of a new semester.

Kurdha Road Junction 

Subba Rao 

Travelling back to college campus for start of a new semester is not
fun; not if one was attending a college in India, at least not when 
Juggernaut was attending four decades ago.  One has to reckon with bad 
cafeteria food, poor living quarters and terrible bathrooms in the 
hostel.  End of a semester was a great relief, beginning of a new 
semester signals more stressful time to come. If they can only make 
learning more fun and less of a stressful event, learning life skills 
really means something worthwhile. 

A travel from home to the campus town was a slow train journey that
takes 10 hours to travel around 250 miles, from one culture to a 
totally different culture as if one is entering a different country. As 
train travels through the route, new passengers get in and some drop 
off.  The new passengers ‘profile change, they speak different language 
and wear different garb. As the train travels towards the destination, 
at each station it stops, the snacks sold at the vendor stalls change 
from South Indian ‘Idli' to Oriyan ‘Bora' and less coffee and more of 
‘chai' or tea. 

A casual conversation with fellow travelers may not occur because of
language barrier, unless one meets that speaks English. Luckily for 
Juggernaut, he met an Anglo-Indian lady. She introduced herself as Mrs. 
Victoria Thomas travelling to Calcutta.  A heavy set woman in her late 
fifties, she wore a short flowery dress exposing her legs. Though a 
descendent of mixed Indian and British ancestry, she has dark skin and 
looks more Indian. Without her short hair and dress, she could be 
mistaken for an Indian woman, unless she speaks out with her unique 
accent, either British or Indian. 

The name Victoria brought back his memory of a statue of Queen Victoria
over-dressed in layers of garments looking fat placed on a huge 
pedestal under a large canopy in a small square opposite the Central 
Bank in his home town. The decades old statue perhaps made from stone 
or bronze, hard to tell since layers of dust and oily soot coated the 
statue over time. Only beggars and mentally ill shared the canopy with 
the neglected statue. 

“How far you were going?” asked Mrs. Thomas. 

Waking up from his thoughts of statue of Victoria, Juggernaut replied “I
am going to Bhubaneswar.” 

“Are you from this area?” 

“No, I am attending a university there,” 

“How come, you have lot of universities in your state?” 

“We do, but I want to experience living in a different culture.” 

“That's good; so how things going so far?” 

“Not very good, the cafeteria food was very bad, so as my hostel.” 

“There is nothing like home cooking.” 

“Sure,” “do you live in Calcutta?” asked Juggernaut. 

“No, I live in Guntur,” “My husband works in ‘Golden Tobacco Company
there,” said Mrs. Thomas removing a small gold colored metal cigarette 
case from her purse. 

Juggernaut never before saw a lady carrying a cigarette case and so as
the other travelers sitting around.  While the fellow travelers looking 
at her curiously, she opened the case, took one and placed it 
in-between her lips and asked Juggernaut whether he smokes. 

Juggernaut eagerly accepted one and realized it was ‘Gold Flake', an
expensive brand marketed by ‘Golden Tobacco Company.' 

Mrs. Thomas took a deep drag and exhaled the smoke in between her lips

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