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My sensitive ears were put to the stress test on my return train journey after attending the college reunion.

Luckily for me the train itself did not blare its horn while gliding into the platform. In fact it arrived with no fanfare at all and unannounced. The other trains, up ones and also the down, were being ‘sung’ about by announcers in multiple languages and in varied sing-song voices, but not a word about mine, not about its late running, impending arrival or even of it having finally reached. Hmm… makes one wonder. Just what had the poor thing done to be given this Royal Ignore Treatment by the Indian Railways?

Be that as it may, suffice to say the train had arrived at last noiselessly and unannounced. If not for the kind lady sitting next to me, or rather her restless son impatiently walking up and down the platform, this arrival would have gone unnoticed by me and precious minutes lost. The stop, you see, was only for a brief five minutes and though that might seem like eternity to some, I am an old lady and need my time to gather my wits and bags, push through the crowds, find my coach…

Of course not. I am kidding. I had positioned myself at the just the right place and only had to walk a few steps to my coach and wait patiently for people to disembark before boarding the train. But the lady’s gentle ‘The train is arriving!’ seconds before helped me pull myself out of the book I was engrossed in. Who knows, otherwise I might have looked up idly minutes too late to find my train leaving the platform and for the rest of my life would have had to defend myself till blue in the face with, ‘BUT THERE WAS NO ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!’

Goodness me! This is turning out to be a post true to the spirit of ramblings that I aim to achieve in February every year (but has spilled over to March this year I am ashamed to say)! Look what I have done, left my sensitive ears dangling behind in the very first sentence and moved on to trains, their arrivals and whatnot. Before long I would have talked of reaching home too, my ears forgotten altogether. Sacrilege! They are, and should be, the stars of this post. Umm… not stars as such you know, but rather the subject around which this post revolved.

I know I have mentioned my sensitive ears in earlier posts too, how loud sounds bother me, how people do not take me seriously enough when I complain. Believe it or not, I cringe when a phone vibrates. The hum of the vibration feels like the sound is burrowing through my skull, right into my brain. I have been unable to make even my near and dear ones understand how painful it is hearing the sounds from videos and stuff playing from their phones. Naturally I am being dramatic of course, though if you ask them to cite one measly example of my ever having been dramatic they would be hard pressed. Anyway…

So you can imagine the kind of hell I went through on my way home in a coach with two sets of parents, each armed with a phone minus earphones and an indisciplined child with no volume control button anywhere in sight. That was a total of six noise creating machines right there, and what high decibel levels! There was no use complaining, I knew that. As for moving, what good would that do? I’d only land with another set of people with phones minus earphones and maybe more kids in tow.

I did the next best thing, plugged my own ear close with earphones and listened to music. I could still hear some of the cacophony around me. Next goal: Noise-cancelling earphones of the very best quality.

Shail Mohan 2023