Train Journey … Bangalore – ChennaiPosted: November 15, 2008
A new experience altogether … Or so it seems. This comes to you from the top berth of the Mysore–Chennai (beautiful pitcure of Chennai Central) Kaveri Express. I had thought this would be the opening line except that it would have been coming to you from the platform. But just as I was thinking of writing, the train arrived and no matter its almost midnight, the arrival of a train at any major junction in India can cause the buzzing of the beehive of activity astir. And this was no exception.
To cut a long story short, between reorienting myself, deciphering the bogie number printed on the ticket (in the absence of the charts they used to stick), hauling myself onto the train, navigating my way through the crowded aisle, and managing to perch myself on the top berth thanks to some pretty amazing gymnastics, I couldn’t start writing till I was lying down on the berth, which by the way, I am hoping is meant for me tonight.
To start the story, let me inform you that I didn’t intend to write about this journey. After all, this is just another train journey. I have had more luxurious ones (AC IÌ class), and a whole host of adventurous journeys, usually eithout reservation, whether it be from Varanasi to Delhi, or Lucknow to Berhampur, or Varanasi to Nagpur. But going to Bangalore City Junction, trying to locate the platform number for the train, in the face of a General Enquiry window totally devoid of human habitation (by the way, they have some slick touch-screen technology which can do this for you), hauling myself, laptop, and suitcase to the platform, trying to decipher the mystery of two trains … Chennai Express and Kaveri Express, and the entire set of activities which I told you about earlier, and most important … Unravelling the disorientation … I thought that I must write about this. Besides, of course, the general din of people sleeping might render any thoughts of sleeping ineffective (though I am going to try), so I might as well write.
The usual smell that you find in almost any railway station was around, though what was missing were the vendors selling kulhars of garam-garam Chai … Extra strong, extra sweet … Just the way you like it. What was the surprise element was the disorientation. I felt like I was doing this for the first time. That I wouldn’t, in all probability, not achieve what I had set out for … To catch the train. Getting to the platform seemed to be an enormous task, and the entire set of activities culminating in me hoisting myself onto the berth seemed daunting. And this makes me think … There was a time when I wouldn’t think twice about it. It was almost second nature. And that’s when I realized … This is the first time in over a decade that I am going on a train journey. Coming to the disorientation … It was comprehensive. I felt as though I didn’t even know how to board the train, much less take the journey.
Ah … The romance of the train! Taken away by the the tinted film on the window-panes, which, by the way, you can’t open. And they effectively segregate you from the journey.
By the way, its morning, and I slept well … Which is a relevation. Earlier, when I would travel bt train, I somehow wouldn’t get sleep … Or maybe, it had something to do with the way I used to travel. And I am reminded of a saying …
Chaar aane ki Murgi, Baarah Aane ka Masala!
In other words, the Chicken costing less than the Masala used for cooking … You would ask what brings that on. Delay of two and half hours for a five hour journey. But maybe I shouldn’t be complaining … Had the train been on time, I wouldn’t have slept so well. Rather, I would have overslept.