Train notes

On the train to home, Goa, I wake up in the morning to find out that my shoes are stolen.

You ever build stories on what you see while you travel? I mean, I see wide barren land on a dark night and there is one hut with a little light out there and I ask myself, how would it be if I were alone here, on this land, right here, right now. One of the other (and much less horrifying) possibilities that have crossed my mind is of my shoes being stolen. Well, now what.

Well, those were running shoes. Somebody had to run with them.

So I have no choice but to limit my visits to the toilet. I have no luggage but for this backpack which has a Thinkpad and an ipod. I have a Robert Ludlum which warrants some attention.

Sonaulium (actually it’s called Sonaulim) is Goa’s first station as the train enters Goa through Karnataka. The station, or what seems left of it, is in shambles. A deep valley on it’s back and on the outside of the station are lots of, what would have been big rocks and cement blocks, broken down in pieces. Most of the rooms are locked. But as the train passes by, one man manages to come out of nowhere. He’s holding a green flag, as if, signaling to each and everyone one of us — keep going. Rather, leave. And amidst of what looks like silent chaos, I see an empty but perfect flagpole. Maybe I should be back here on independence day. I bet it would be more inviting then.

A few minutes later, as we approach Madgaon, another station passes by. “Curchorem” it is, in English but the Devanagari script tells me it’s something to the effect of “Sanvordem Curchorem”.

Why this discrimination?

A few meters ahead I see a building with “Toilet” written in bold letters over it. On the left side of it is a smaller heading that says “Gents” with an arrow pointing left. On the right side of it, well, its painted white on what I think, in the recent past, would have been “Ladies” (with an arrow pointing right) and the entrance on the right is blocked by an old plank of wood. There is no ladies toilet at Curchorem (or Sanvordem Curchorem — based on your linguistic skills).

Why this discrimination?

Then, as the train nears the end of the station, a freshly pasted (and soaked in the rain) computer printed poster informs us that there is a “Swine Flu Awareness Cell” somewhere around there. This could be the only railway station in the world with no ladies toilet but a Swine Flu Awareness Cell.

And then there is Madgaon station, my destination, with no shoe shops.

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