Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Human Time-table

I and my sister were desperately looking for a time-table that shows local train timings. We walked all over the Howrah station, but in vain. All the visible time-tables showed the long distance train timings. Even the book stores did not have local train time tables. Then I thought, let’s go and ask a ticket collector who is a bit free.

Several ticket collectors were standing near the gate, and we chose one gentleman among them who seemed to be taking his work a little less seriously. He was wearing the standard black coat, and his mouth was full of pan (or tobacco maybe).

“Where can I find a local train time table?” I asked him.

He couldn’t speak because of the pan, but he thumped his chest twice to indicate that he could serve as the time table.

My next question was, “Could you please tell us when the Belur Math Local leaves Howrah in the morning?”

He promptly searched his pocket and produced his receipt booklet, the one that he uses while taking fines from the passengers traveling without tickets. I was alarmed. He opened the booklet to its last few pages. Four digit numbers were scribbled all over these pages in tiny handwriting. They were written in all possible angles, and there were no letters or train names. Just those numbers, which as I soon realized, were train timings.

He flipped through a couple of pages and pointed to a corner of the third. There, in little figures the following was written:


With a small grunt he indicated that these were the timings of our train. We quickly made a mental note of the figures and thanked him. He gave a little nod and another grunt, and was back at his work once more. We turned away and started walking towards the platform.

“How the hell does he remember which timings are for which train?” asked my sister before bursting into laughter. “If I had not seen that train leave at 10:10 a little while ago, I would not have believed he was right”, she added.

“He is a funny character all right,” I said, “He is acting as the time-table without speaking a word. I will write a blog post about him.”

And here it is.


  1. tatz cool...!!
    smhow i happen 2 b very bad at rmmbrin numbers .... esp that hav a sequence of even digits ( now donn ask me 2 elaborate on this 1...but tatz how i m!! )...!!
    So i really appreciate ppl who can memorize nos and recall on need.

  2. You could have selected labels in this sequence.

    nonsense, kolkata, experiences


    juss kiddin. Nice post.

  3. @aurindam: My mother is another person who can remember phone numbers... I can't.

    @abhijit: Blogger automatically arranges the labels in alphabetical order... so I couldn't have done anything else.

  4. hey! nice blog and nice post
    thanks for visiting. :)
    awww - i miss calcutta! specially
    now - during the monsoons

  5. hi mr joy,

    It is about passion, it is about interest, and it is about care. I do not have to put an effort to remember anything to do with PeopleSoft, you do not have work hard to speak to .Net, I am sure you know that language now better then Bengoli.

    Btw, I have not received any pictures lately? you love for Hyd was visibile in your collection of albums, how abt Cal sometime?

    I am sure you must be very happy in Cal, as most bengalois, you are in awe with that city... u dont need reason to love it. Recently I got glimse of city in Namesake.

    how abt changing your name to Joy Banerjee? till u r in Cal.


  6. Cool post! Brought back memories from long ago. While I haven't lived there, I visited frequently and travelled extensively via locals. My first time in your blog; not sure how I found it. Liked your posts!

  7. dialog ta kemon hoyechhilo, taar ektaa aandaz koraa jaak:
    "local train er time table kothaay pawa jaabe kaku?"
    "unnn... hmm!" (buk e duto thaabRa)
    "Asole Howrah theke BeluR math er gaaRita kakhan chhaaRbe, setaai aar ki...."
    "hnu, hnu... hmmm." (Pocket search)
    (khata paawa jachche naa) "unh-hnuh... hnu.. hnu..."(pawa gelo)
    "ummmmm...." (pata oltaano cholchhe)
    "hmmmm, hnunh!" nombor gulor dike aangul dekhiye.
    "thank you kaku!"
    "hnughh" (khushir ghNott)

  8. @Dashu Pagla: Ashadharon, anabadyo! Akebaare thik... shudhu "kaku" bolle hoyto atota help pawa jetona, tai "dada" bole sambodhon korechhilam.