I had boarded the Tamil Nadu express at 10pm. My break was over and I was headed towards my college. “Are you going to Delhi?” I asked him. He laughed at my question and climbed on to the upper berth and went off to sleep.
I had always wanted to know what prompted foreigners to check out India. But it seemed nearly impossible to talk to this man. Throughout the day he almost refused to come down. And whenever he did, in a flash of a moment he would be gone; to where, I did not know. He seemed jocularly mysterious to me.
The day was drawing to a close. As he stepped down, perhaps for the final time in the day and vanished into thin air, the other passengers looked at each other and smiled. It is difficult to be a foreigner and not be noticed in a public place.
“Do you know he drinks five cups of tea simultaneously,” said one.
“And do you know where he has gone right now?” said another, adding to the story. “He is high on ganja. He goes to his friends and they all smoke-up together. Last night after being high, he opened the doors of the train and was almost about to jump out when the chaiwallah pulled him back.” The man returned and silence prevailed. By now we all knew from whatever we heard of him that he understood and spoke Hindi like any of us.
The next morning, I saw him standing near the door. I went up to him and asked “Where do you come from?” He smiled.
“Denmark. But now I’ve been in India for the past eight years”.
We were soon into a conversation. “I came to India to make documentaries. Then one day I lost my camera in Varanasi. I landed up in Delhi and got into this habit of heroin. I put some money in a business and lost them all.”
“So what takes you to Delhi?” I asked.
“I’m going to meet my wife Ganga. She stays there.”
“Oh! That is nice. So your wife is an Indian? How did you meet her?”
“In the streets of Delhi. As I said, I was stuck to heroin and so was she. We both got along well in the dark lanes of Paharganj. But she fell sick and started suffering from some psychotic disorder. She often got violent. I moved away after that.”
The train was slowing down. He looked at me and asked “Do you know where in Delhi we get girls?” I looked back squeamishly with surprise. He continued without waiting for me to respond “I want to get married. But I also love Ganga a lot. I want her to get well soon. I’m just seeing if there is possibility to start things anew.”
I looked outside. We had reached Mathura. “Delhi is not far away,” I said and turned back to go back to my seat. “I’m sure things will fall in place soon for you,” I said trying to be empathetic. He again broke into laughter. “I really don’t want it to. Once things fall in place, the game of puzzle ends there. There is a fun in playing it endlessly. I know it’s all gone. But there is no harm in hoping right?”
As we reached Delhi, I asked “What’s you name sir?” “Ram Charan” he replied. “My name was George. But now I’m Ram.” I got down. I turned back and saw him walk and soon he was lost in the crowd moving towards Paharganj. Ram had set out in search of his Ganga.