Madurai city in south Tamilnadu is a popular tourist center. It's recorded period dates back to at least 300 BC. Megasthenese, Greek ambassador to India, is said to have mentioned about this city. Madurai is a historical, social, cultural and business center. Thousands of tourists throng the city every day for visiting the Meenakshi-Sundareswara temple and other temples around the city. The size of these temples is often huge and a proper visit to them would take half a day for a meaningful round up. A visit to Meenakshi-Sundareswara temple in the morning is very rewarding; it meets the objective of morning walk and exercise as well. Tirumala Naiker's palace is another important tourist attraction. Madurai is also the gateway to the island of Rameswaram that houses the historical temple by the same name. It is an important commercial centre and the city with nearly two million population never sleeps. Different shades of cultures can be seen thriving harmoniously in this city. The city is situate on the banks of river Vaigai, though water flow in the river is very rare. Madurai has a bench of the Madras High Court and has a Divisional Office of Indian Railways as well. The city is vital and important politically and the belief is that the political party that wins in Madurai and surrounding areas does rule the state of Tamilnadu. Past electoral history is a witness to this claim.
Madurai is well connected by National Highways, Railway network and Airport. There is a regular and heavy traffic between Chennai and Madurai. Many long distance trains from Chennai to various destinations in south India pass through Madurai. The most popular among them is Pandiyan Express, plying between Chennai and Madurai, due to its convenient timings on either side of the journey. One can take the train after supper and arrive at the destination well before sunrise on the next day. I was required to travel frequently between these two cities as a part of my work for a few years. The train had AC coaches as well but the journey by First Class coaches (which have been now phased out by Indian Railways) were very pleasant due to the extra space available in them. The journey by Pandiyan Express was always enjoyable and lasting in memory.
There was a slight drizzle on that night at Chennai Egmore station, some fifteen years ago. The wet platforms were full with south bound passengers looking for their trains. Pandiyan Express had not yet arrived at the platform from the yard. There was no place to sit on the platforms as all seats were either occupied or wet due to the drizzle. There was only one bench on which one person was sitting with her bags besides her. As the wait was going to be longer, I went to her and asked her if I could sit beside her if she moved the bags. She readily agreed and made way by moving the bags. What followed was a very interesting episode.
Many persons passing by our bench would stop and greet the lady. She was nearly seventy years old and the smile on her face was evident even in the dimly lit platform. Initially it appeared that only railway employees were greeting her. All guards, drivers, porters and other railway employees stopped for a minute and talked to her with reverence. Many of them asked her whether they could get dinner for her. She smilingly replied such queries that she had ordered dinner to be served on the coach. As the minutes passed by, it was observed that even some non-railway employees were greeting her and exchanging pleasantries. She was referred as "Madam". Only elderly ones addressed her as "Satya Madam". Her name was probably Satyavati. I was tempted to ask her how she knew so many people from the railways and others traveling to Madurai. But I did not.
When the train arrived on the platform half an hour later, there were half a dozen railway employees competing to take her bags to her coach. As I entered my compartment, she was seated opposite to my berth. An elderly couple were the other two passengers in the four berthed compartment. They had their packed dinner ready with them. Railway employees delivered dinner packets to us. The time during the dinner opened a chance to ask her the reasons for her being so popular with the railway employees and other travelers.
She told me that she was working as a teacher in the Railway school in Madurai for some three decades. Some of the persons who greeted her were her former students who have now become railway employees. There were others who were parents of children who studied in that school. She said that it was no surprise that that many people greeted and spoke to her. "I should have been an awfully bad teacher if at least this many did not recognize me!", she exclaimed. She was humble and polite. She must have been much better than an average teacher. She ought to have been a wonderful teacher and guide to her wards. Not all teachers are recognized and respected like her, I thought.
Our brief discussion during dinner was disturbed due to a heated argument between a passenger and the TTE. As the argument subsided, she smiled and said "I do not know why people become angry". "There could be many reasons for that", I said. She laughed and what she said later is fresh in my memory.
"In any situation involving me, I am either right or wrong. If I am wrong, I have no right to be angry. If I am right, I need not be angry. Remembering these two rules are the best medicine for treating anger", she said as we finished dinner.
Satya madam had a wonderful lesson in "Anger Management". She put it very easily in simple words but with lasting effect. It is a lesson difficult to follow always, but gives rich dividends whenever followed. Yes, it is either we have no right to be angry or we need not be angry!