Thoughts while travelling

Note:This was written on my way to Goa, about 2 weeks ago.

In the long journeys that I undertook for 2 years when I travelled from Indore to Goa during my graduation, I hardly remember travelling on a confirmed ticket. Most of the times I was at the mercy of fellow passengers (Heck, I have even travelled in the Pantry car). But for going home, pains could be taken, should be taken. Scorching sun up above baked the land around me in a shade of plain brown, as Mangla Express paved its way through the Konkan landscape.

The most awaited station in the 36 hour itinerary was Ratnagiri, almost 3 hours before Goa. Ratnagiri was (and is) the only main station on the Konkan track before the train touched Goa. It became almost like a custom, buying myself a 500ml Coca-Cola pet bottle with 2 vada-paus at Ratnagiri. That signified a celebration of sorts. Since it was the only main station before Goa, this was almost homecoming. I could spend all my money at Ratnagiri and not care a thing. As there was no big station throughout the journey, I would be too hungry by the time Ratnagiri came. Besides, starved of Vada-Paus in Indore, here was a treat to have and nothing less.

I am currently going home and writing this in the train, from Bangalore to Goa. So if you are reading this, that means this sloppy, shaky handwriting has finally made it to the blog.

The 14 hour train journeys that I usually undertake to go home to Goa usually happen in the nights. Bombay, Pune or Bangalore, all trains to Goa are usually in the night. There is this certain thing, about travelling by train in the night. It is so much in contrast to a day journey. If you take out the chorus generated by the metal wheels clanging with the shiny tracks, the odyssey is mostly quiet and sometimes full of questions. In the middle of the night, on a railway platform, the only evidence of a (not so) orderly world is the occasionaly chai-wala, booming full of enthusiasm, almost running on the empty veranda. At this odd hour, he is the busiest businessman around, seeking to sell a cup of tea to a train full of asleep people who are conveniently oblivious to something as basic as his existence.

I look out of the window, see the black, moonless sky full of stars and constellations. Far away, I see a hut, or so it seems, with a single bulb burning bright. There is no other light in sight, no other evidence of man’s mediation with nature. If there could be a middle of nowhere, this would be it. I look at it, as it slowly passes by the horizon and I wonder how would it be to be there.

With no pantry car in the train, I wonder what I would be eating for dinner. The train arrives at Davangere and I am able to lay my hands on a soft drink bottle. It seems under these circumstances, this is my best bet. Just then when the hopes are about to fade away, comes a railway-catering man selling Lemon rice, neatly packaged in newspaper sheets. Before I know, I give in and find myself asking for one of those. This is Godsent. A chai-wala hops in too and eyeing a prospective customer in me, comes forward, offers me a cup gesturing towards the kettle he is carrying. I, too glad to have the lemon rice in my posession gesture towards the soft drink bottle on my right. So, we are even. He breaks into a smile, carries on, his shrill voice, chanting “chai-chai”, guranteed to overstep in the sleepy worlds of the people around him.

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