Lost and Found in Tamil Nadu | Daily News

Lost and Found in Tamil Nadu

I have visited neighbouring India several times to both the North and the South and felt at home. After all, we Lankans have our ancestral connections with India too. That is not the point. Today we are a separate Nation with individual and unique characteristics but with common parallels in culture and the like.

Two weeks ago.I spent a hurried journey to three places in Tamil Nadu: Chennai Coiambuttur (now known as Kovai in short), and Salem.

In Chennai, I went to the Madras University to collect my academic certificate (MA English) for which I sat for two years in 10 subjects as a Distant Education Candidate and passed with Second Class Honours. At 80 years I consider this an achievement for the simple reason the examination was difficult and the pass mark was 50 with very strict corrections, But I was told that my certificate would be posted to me after the Convocation which was held on July 15, It was delayed for a long time as the Vice-Chancellor was appointed only recently. They reserved the convocation only to PhD holders and Gold Medalists. Since there were a large number of postgraduate students passing the examinations in the various courses of studies, they could not accommodate all at the Convocation Ceremony. This was a disappointment for me.

Nevertheless, I made the time available to make my stay useful. On the 10th I visited my publisher, Manimekalai Prasuram that was printing my new book in Tamil on the International Film Festivals I had seen over the past few decades in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Goa and Thiruvananthapuram. I read the final proof and approved it for printing. The book is expected to be out next month. And in the afternoon I visited the Madras University near the famous Marina Beach. As I have said above the mission was not satisfactory to my expectation. So I returned to my hotel near the L I C building on Mount Road, now known as Anna Saalai.

July 11 early morning I left my hotel to take the Kovai Express train to Coiambuttur that was to leave Chennai at 6.15 am. My! It was a long train covering the whole platform running to about 150 metres. Since I had already reserved my seat I got into the train and sat on my comfortable seat. It was a fast train and the journey was pleasant in the salubrious climate. The train reached the destination by about 1.45 pm. I put my luggage, a bag of clothes, into the locker at the railway station and went to the other building to buy a ticket to travel to Salem on the 12th afternoon. So, almost the whole day has gone.

Kovai is the second biggest city after Chennai in the State of Tamil Nadu. The other big cities are Thiruchirappalli (Trichy), Mathurai and perhaps Thirunelvely. Besides, there are several important junctions that are fairly big.

With time remaining I went to an Ayurveda Hospital to refresh my strained body that became stiff and painful. Surprisingly the male attendant gave me a herbal oil massage and later mild hot water bath. It was very refreshing and the circulation of blood in my body became normal.

The whole process took nearly two hours.

I returned to the station and waited in the waiting room and had interrupted sleep now and then.

On July 12 I got up early. There was a special room for washing and changing clothes. You have got to pay Indian Rupees 20 to use it for an hour. I used that facility and went upstairs to have my breakfast, I ate three idlies and had a cup of coffee. Came downstairs and waited in the room with my hand bag where I kept my passport, return air ticket and some money, Time was running slow. It was only 9 am. My train to Salem was only at 3.15 in the afternoon. I just sat and watched the world go by. It was interesting to see the reactions of all sorts of passengers who were to go to various places in the country.

After some time I felt tired and went out of the railway station to have my lunch. Just opposite the railway station there were some vegetarian restaurants I went into one of them had a Masala Thosai and filtered cup of coffee. It was O K. After the new taxes introduced in the whole of India, the meal costs a heavy sum when converted into our Lankan currency. Now the exchange rate is for an Indian rupee, we have got to pay Rs 2.45.

After lunch, I took my seat in the waiting room with my handbag put under the chair and took some time for siesta. It was some kind of relief for me. Then about 2.30 I slowly woke up and went near the electronic display of the departure trains and timings. Noted that my train was to leave at 3.15 to Salem on platform No 4 and came back to see my handbag with (cash, tickets and most of all the passport), was missing.

I became panicky and was almost losing control. I sat flabbergasted on my seat not knowing what to do next.

A few seconds passed. I saw a man whom I noticed seated at the far end of my row of seats came walking towards me carrying my hand bag. He gave it to me and asked me politely whether everything was intact in the bag. I quickly grabbed the bag and opened the zip and found that everything was there. My God. Then I looked at the man who looked sick and sad. I thanked him profusely.

I asked him how he got the bag when I placed it under my seat. He told me in Tamil:

“Sir, You look a foreigner to this place and careless in leaving your bag and walking away. I rushed to your seat and had it with me to return it to you when you come back. I am happy that God had given me a chance to do something good for someone.”

As a reward, I gave him some money. He refused to receive it and returned it.

He said he was waiting to go to the nearest hospital on appointment. He was a cancer patient. Thanking him again I went to the locker and picked up my other bag and rushed to platform No 4 to board the train to Salem.


There are 2 Comments

80 years in age traveling etc. The man with cancer saved his handbag returned it if not being robbed by others. Charming action not received a rupee for the help. Gentleman from SriLanka in India travelling at his age getting a degree very admirable. I wander this is for his personal satisfaction and approval.good luck to him


Add new comment

Or log in with...