Thursday, December 22, 2005

Trip to Southall - Meeting a Muslim Man (Part 1)

Last year at university, I went to Southall. I had to take a tube train from Waterloo to Paddington, then take an over ground train to Southall. I got to Paddington and looked at the screen board to see what time the train leaves. I couldn’t see “Southall” on the screen for some reason. So I thought perhaps there are some train works or something. So I decided to take a train to Ealing Broadway. I got to platform 13, and then the man announced on the speaker phone “the platform has changed.” Waheguru! So I quickly tried to get to platform 11.

As I was quickly walking up the platform I bumped into an old Muslim gentleman. He was wearing salwaar kameez, topi (hat) on his head, short white beard and a bit overweight. He asked me (in Urdu) “I want to go to Southall, where should I go?” I said I am going to Southall as well but there are no direct trains going, so I am going to get on the Ealing Broadway train. The bloke wanted me to wait for him and accompany him. But he was REALLY SLOW, firstly because he was old, and secondly because he was overweight. Chalo Rab Rakha.

So I slowly walked with him (even though I didn’t know him or know why I am waiting for him). By the time we got to platform 11 we had missed the train! Waheguru! The Muslim man looked at me and said, “Lets ask the information desk.” Why? We need to get to Ealing Broadway, I don’t need to see the Information desk. Sat Naam. The bloke kept saying to me “lets go to the Information Desk.” Then he started saying Lets go to Heathrow Airport and take train from there to Southall.” Why do I want to go Heathrow Airport? Waheguru! I said no its okay, I am going to wait for Ealing Broadway train.” He kept going on. It got a bit frustrating!

Rab Da Shukar! The Ealing Broadway train arrives. This time I made sure that I don’t miss it. I told the Muslim man “We need to hurry and make sure we don’t miss the train.” Poor bloke! He hurried along and hopped on to the train. We got to the train and poor bloke was panting and out of breath. He then said, “Sardar Ji, I have to do something, you please go on in the train.” I looked outside the window and saw him smoking a cigarette. I thought “O dear, no wonder why you are out of breath!” but also I thought it was courteous and respectful of him that he didn’t want to smoke in front of me. He then came on to the train and sat next to me.

In front of us sat a young Gora kid about 6 or 7 years old with his mum and dad. I smiled at them (trying to make an effort to be friendly) and continued to talk to the old Muslim man. He was telling me that he is going to a wedding in Southall and that he wants to make sure that he isn’t late. Then he asked me whether I am from India because he said my Panjabi was good. Plus I was wearing my white Kurta Pyjama. So we continued yapping (talking) away. I didn’t know this bloke but for some reason we stuck together! Strange but true!

Halfway to Ealing Broadway I notice that the kid staring at me and at the Muslim man. I thought perhaps he is finding my dastaar (turban) and the Muslim man’s topi a little strange or something. He then whispered something to his mum and his mum told him to be quiet. However, they continued to look at me and the Muslim man sitting infront of them. So I thought I might as well ask what the child wants to know. The mother replied, “Go on then, you can politely ask the man yourself.” The child felt shy so the mother said, “He wanted to know whether you two were speaking GERMAN.” Waheguru! It was so funny. I had to control my laughter!!

I told him that I am speaking Panjabi and that the other man is speaking Urdu. The whole family were amazed and said, “Wow, how wonderful! You are having a conversation in two different languages!” I smiled and the Muslim man was chuffed (happy) with the cute kid’s comment.

To be continued…


Anonymous said...

Your travel stories in London are very interesting. Look forward to read about train travel experiences.

Gurumustuk Singh said...

Funny Story :) Waiting for the next episode...