Traveller

Book, Music and Journey

It is always an interesting experience to travel in a train. The thought of it is fascinating. You are trapped in the iron box with a large glass window separating the natural from the artificial.
There is light music in ears – I wonder why I don’t like to hear rock or an upbeat number while travelling. It is always slow & soothing. May be it is the overall lazy setting. Eyes oscillate between the passing scenery and a book in the lap.
There is a blanket over the legs as you see half clad villagers sweating it out in their fields (or may be calling it ‘their’ field is wrong). And the smells…Ah…the smells, specially after the lunch or dinners. At that time you wish you were in a non-AC compartment where you can just turn your face towards the window. But it is also a plac where you see the similarities of the nation. A family always has food along – unless you are travelling in a Rajdhani. Punjabis prefer dry aaloo sabji along with plain paranthas and pickle. My mother used to pack the same thing and I have had this menu in trains, buses and airports. And interestingly seen many people have the exact same thing in all these places. So I am used to the before and after smells – don’t know how many people suffered at my hands.
At night, it is pitch dark outside but still you keep looking. Such darkness, a rare sight in cities, seems fascinating. Sometimes there is a solitary light standing out somewhere far and its tough not to think about it. Is it a solitary light in perhaps a whole village or a solitary home in the wanderness. May be its none of it. Who knows?
In a train, places like these become ephemeral and so do the thoughts. We call ourselves travellers. But may be the real traveller is one who finds the story behind that solitary light, places are not ephmeral and the associated thoughts are documented.

The Sojourn – Part III

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Compile Time 2
8.30 AM (Sunday)

I am alive. Yes, I endured the coldest night I have had in last year and it was not easy and it is still not easy. I am barely able to pen these words,
After wrapping up myself and hitting the bed at 10.00, I had a very deep sleep where I was even oblivious to the chattering group and clattering of the train. I woke up at 2.30 AM when Bhopal came. There was some activity within the compartment as many people got down. It was then I realized that it had gotten very cold. The emergency sweat shirt was used, Socks came on and I seriously contemplated going for the 5th layer of jacket. But it was not possible to take out the bag, open it, Take out the jacket and again close the bag and place the bag. Too cold too do all this. Slept again after answering to nature’s call – second deep sleep. Finally got up at 7.30. 1 scene I took while I went to take a leak at around 3.00 Am. – 1 person lying near the door with only a piece of cloth covering him.

Runtime 4
9.30 AM (Sunday)
Familiar Sights – Lush yellow and green fields, clear blue sky with a tinge of whiteness lend by the clouds.
It is not possible to see such sights from the heights of an aero plane and its always refreshing to see it.
The train runs through the final stretches of its journey. Briefly I go to the door, hold the bars and thrust my body outside the boundaries of the train.
A chillingly cold rush of air hits me like a thousand needles thrown at me. But I keep standing like that against the cold, knowing well that the body won’t last long. It doesn’t and I come back and sit on the east side where the sun is trying to warm up to the scene.
I glance inside the train, clean shaven faces have given way to beardy faces, hands are folded across chests with blankets still on an the sale of tea and coffee is on a continuous rise. A poor kid comes his way cleaning away the corridor of the bogey. I give him 5 Rs. At least he is doing something to earn it and not begging away. A passing station tells me we are still in Madhya Pradesh. We wont be after 3 – 3.5 hrs. Then it will be time for some more action again as I’ll start a new struggle to get to Chandigarh.

The Sojourn – Part II

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Run Time – Part 1
Saturday – 1:45 PM.

Afternoon Time. Had a sumptuous lunch – similar to infy if not better. The berths are being opened up all around and everyone’s is ready to take nap during the sleepy afternoon time. How many times in office we have felt like sleeping after lunch and each time we had to go to and sit in the cubicle in front of the monitor. Today, in this 50 hour long journey with Hariharan singing to me in his mellifluous calm voice, I’ll take the much desired but never fulfilled desire in many busy lives – afternoon nap.
The weather meanwhile has been very hot since morning. The protective clothing I had brought along are till now sleeping in bag (sleeping!!! I am sure very sleepy.. whatever!!)
But I know the weather will have the last say. As we near Delhi and the time is coming quickly as the engine has now changed from a diesel one to electric. Ok. Enough of writing. Now I cant wait more for the vendor to return my change. I am off now!!

RunTime 2
Saturday – 5:45 PM
The time since Runtime 1 has passed very slowly. Its evening now. I can see the big round yellow ball as I look out my left window. Ya, that means I am moving in the right direction – North. Well, I think that was not an entirely correct statement. The train is moving in the correct direction. Regarding me, I am not sure. As I see out of the window, I see smoke everywhere. I cant figure out the reason but again I cant help but make a comparison to life again.
Well, for the reason of the actual smoke, I guess there are lots of huts around and the preparations have started for the nyt’s dinner.
As, I look inside, everyone is up from the afternoon slumber and everyone’s very quiet and looking outside at passing scenery and at the same time looking inside – inside himself. I feel, it again the time of the day which has this affect on the mood. Even the usual chirpy group is quiet.
The weather is still not cold and I am still out of the protective layers of clothes. I guess things will change once we cross Nagpur. We are half way through this train journey that means it is still 18 hours to reach Delhi.

Runtime 3
Saturday – 9.30 PM
22 hours have passed since I left Bangalore. 22 hours!!! For the last 22 hours life has come to a stand still. I have not spoken more than 100 words, hardly touched my mobile and am confined to this moving iron box. The contact with the world has been today’s Times Of India bought at Hyderabad. A full day of 2nd Test match between India and Pakistan has passed and I don’t even know who is batting first!!!
This for a person like me who is glued to the internet almost round the clock – on computer while in office and on mobile at home. But I am not bored or impatient or restless at this moment of time. Maybe it will show tomorrow when the journey crosses 30 hour mark but not now.
I spent around an hour standing/sitting on the door and just staring into the darkness outside. In between I tried to sense the direction of our movement by looking at stars – the Orion and that special extra twinkling star that me and my roomies often see while coming back after dinner. I had estimated the direction to be heading west and soon after saw the train make a near 90 degree turn to right so that way we are moving north now. Nagpur has crossed and cold has increased considerably. My protective gearing is on. A layer of sleeveless sweater has gone in between a half sleeve shirt and a full sleeve warm one. One more sweat shirt is under my head for emergency use at nyt and a jacket within reach in the bag if limits are crossed. With the preparation to face the wrath of north Indian winter after 1 year complete, I pull over the blanket to sleep at 10.00 PM. When was the last time I slept at 10.00????

The Sojourn – Part I

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Compile Time – I

Exactly 1 year ago, it was a similar scene. going home in the month of January in the sleeper class of Sampark Kranti Express. The difference was I was alone this time. Left Mysore on the 6.00Pm train to bangalore. I had the company of Amit for this 3 hour journey. IN addition to my load sharing, Amit helped in enhancing my filmi Knowledge which you can expect with Amit, knowing what a film buff he is. I, on my part shared my knowledge on topic I am expert at – Dialogues from different movies specially Boreder!! e.g what is the screen name of Puneet Issar in border and what is the first dialogue about him that is spoken. (his name is Subedar Rattan singh.. and the first dialogue about him is by Mathura das -”Subedaar rattan singh.. yeh bhi aa gaya hai yahan marne ke liye”.
Ok. back to journey, we reached bangalore at sharp 9.00 PM. Amit and I parted ways here and I took a pre paid to yeshwantpur station. Unlike the last time when the auto walah had droped on the last platform, it was platform 1 entrance this time. I sat down there for some time. At around 10.00, i decided to move on to the platform 6 from where the train was scheduled to depart.
1 scene I took along from platform 1: a man drunk over his limits, lying amidst his puke on the platform. no amount of sprinkling water on him or lashing his butt with a lathi (by a hawaldaar) woke him up from his alchohal induced slumber.
It was a long shoulder crushing walk to the stairs of the overhead bridge. with a heavy bagpack and another innocent looking but equally heavy bag. I decided not to stop in between the stairs. With the Lakshya title song running as background score in my mind I carried the heavy bags to the top and took a much needed breath reviving break. Man!! how did these army jawans climbed hundreds of feet in kargil war??? We are kids compared to them.
I finally reached platform 6 where the train was already there but not open. There was a swarm of youngsters – many from Infy as I could make out form their talks. After Some time Amrut called. Everyone back in Mysore was having a party. Amrut, then vibhu, jalali, anshu, raman, jeetu took turns talking on the phone. I was glad to know that I was being missed. Soon after the train gates opened. I quickly checked my name on the reservation list outside the bogey. The rush didn’t allow me leisure time like chetan bhagat to view the list and seats close to me for presence of any girls.
I climbed up and took charge of my cosy little separate side upper berth. After having some egg biryani , I took out my blanket and lay down on my bed for next 40 hours. It was time to have a rendezvous with Ustad Nusrat fateh Ali khan courtesy my mp3 player. My mind wandered to the happenings of the day and the India -Pak match next day which incidentally is in the home town of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Faisalabad. After the 13 min long kawaali, my mind asked me to turn off the player and sleep which I did.
1 scene I took from Platform 6 – Some family moving with all their stuff which was stuffed in 15 trunks(ya I counted them) and an equal (or more) number of beddings or Bistarband as we call it. Well, it was quite a view to see 15 exactly same trunks kept in a line.

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