Skip to main content

A Journey

Indian Railways
Train number: 18610
Boarding Station: Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai
Destination Station: Ranchi

Traveling long distances by trains is nothing new to me. However this particular journey in 2013 has been vivid in my memory. Thanks to my peanut salary and a last-minute travel plan, I could not book an air ticket for that trip. So, I decided to go by train. Cherry on the cake, I could manage to get a berth in the humble non AC sleeper class only.

My journey started on a scary note when I found a drunken passenger next to my seat. Thankfully he got off at Kalyan, the next station. I heaved a sigh of relief and waited for my other co-passengers to board the train. One middle-aged woman came and sat next to me. A married couple followed her. Two college going teenagers filled the remaining seats. And my long journey of thirty-nine and half hours actually started.

Sitting by the window, I enjoyed the view outside. Small talks followed. The middle-aged woman had come to visit her son in Mumbai. She complained about how her son had got a new job in Mumbai and how his salary was not enough to afford a good accommodation. The young married couple were expecting a baby and they were going to Allahabad- the wife's hometown. The teenagers were heading home for the vacation. For me, the best part about train journeys is that people tend to strike a conversation with fellow passengers. Especially, if you are traveling in a non-AC sleeper coach. The conversations are lesser in a AC sleeper coach and are minimal in a two hour flight.  It seems that duration (and price!) of a journey are proportional to conversations among passengers. "Do not talk to strangers," my parents warn me often when I travel alone. Nevertheless, I participate in such conversations.

I met curious glances when my fellow travelers came to know that I was on my own. There is a famous dialogue from a well known Bollywood movie- "Akeli ladki khuli hui tijori ke jaisi hoti hai" (A girl travelling alone is like an open treasure box). The glances of my co-passengers tried to convey this message (After all these years, multiple warnings and endless glances have still not deterred me from traveling alone).   

Next day, my eyes opened with the early morning shouts of tea vendors and hawkers. There is something magical about the hot tea in a kulhad. Or the Vada Pav or Pohe Jalebi served at the stations. One can make a long menu based on the local delicacies served at these stations. And there are occasional surprises too. By midday when I was feeling sleepy after lunch, two Naga Sanyasis hopped on the train from Naini, a small station before Allahabad. Kumbh Mela was after a month and they were going to Allahabad. Needless to say, it was quite shocking for my sleepy eyes to stare down at the Sanyasis (Ahem, Ahem).

Unfortunately, the rest of the journey was devoid of shocks and surprises. The train moved on to come up with new co-passengers, new stories and experiences. By then, I was getting drained from the long journey and slept like a log. Early next morning, I reached my destination to my sweet home.

**This post first appeared on my blog on Quora. 

Popular posts from this blog

Protective Mothers or Rape Deniers?

I came across an interesting article in The New York Times last month about a group of mothers defending their sons who had been accused of sexual assaults at college campuses. In the U.S., the guidelines on campus sexual assaults had been pretty stringent so far. However, these guidelines have been blamed to presume the accused students as guilty, who are usually suspended or expelled from the college campuses for a certain amount of time. Needless to say, most of the accused are men.
These mothers are on a mission to save their sons who, they believe, were “wrongly accused.” As protective mothers, they had compelled the college authorities to relook into their sons’ charges. Some of them consider themselves as feminists and hold opinions that how girls today have misconstrued the definition of sexual assault.
In our own backyard, let us recall the infamous Delhi gang rape in 2012. Malti Devi, the mother of one of the convicts Akshay Thakur, desperately pleaded her son’s innocence in f…

When I Met Harry

Harry came to my life when I was in the eighth standard. A bespectacled young boy with ruffled jet black hair, green eyes, and a scar on his forehead; a boy to fall in love with. Don't blame me as I was a teenager who wanted a spell of magic in her life and to run away to the Hogwarts. I hated being a muggle and aspired to become another Hermione Granger. I imagined myself boarding the Hogwarts Express and reaching Hogsmeade, going to that magical school, and learning to wave my wand. I had once written a secret letter to Harry on Valentine's day and later decided to keep it safe in my diary. When I watched 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' for the first time, I lost my mind (and heart!) over that young and extremely cute Daniel Radcliffe.  I remember keeping newspaper cuttings of anything and everything related to him. I still have them, safely secured in my old trunk. Well, that infatuation lasted for a couple of years till I graduated from college. And…

The Unfamiliarity

Through out my life, I have always been on move; never sticking to a place for long and trying to adjust to new surroundings. So when I needed to move to Irving, Texas in early 2016, I just packed my bags without any thoughts. After all, I had lived across six states in India while surviving through different schools, colleges, and jobs. "It’s no big deal," I said to myself.
I was wrong. The moment I came out of the airport, it took me a while to realize that the cars on the road were driving on the right side. Back in my country, we drive on the left side of the road! Right there, I froze. It was definitely not love at the first sight.
Whenever I start residing at a new place, I try to look out for some elements in my surrounding that were common at the places I lived before. Funny as it might sound but it brought me some comfort on staring at a tall, rusty, dimly lit streetlight standing next to the apartment that I called ‘home’ for the next one year. That streetlight sweet…

Cupid Came & Went Away !

It is that time of the year again! Spring is knocking at the door - the warm sunshine feels great amid the slight chill in the air, a delicate scent of flowers lingers in the early morning breeze, and even my neglected garden tries to look good without any help. And I almost forgot that it is the season of love too; through branded merchandise, and corny posts shared on social media.

Valentine's day has a long history. I particularly enjoyed reading through Devdutt Pattanaik's Return of the Love-Godabout the origins of the day and similar celebrations across different cultures. I also unsuccessfully tried to overlook any news covering vandalism caused by certain groups who, every year, make their presence felt on this day by harassing hapless couples. Well, it is hard to ignore the other side of the coin!
While I absolutely hate the commercialization of emotions (and that does not restrict to Valentine's day only), I genuinely feel sorry for those couples who sneaked out …

A Jar Full of Gratitude

Last year was pretty long for me, longer than usual. Though I accept change in my life as a good sign, too many changes usually put me off the track. I was whining, sulking, complaining, and crying; making myself and others around me miserable. And yes, I tried to keep a distance from my friends and family to hibernate in solitude (and think myself as Queen Elsa from Frozen!). Everyone around me was worried about my sanity and I was doing nothing to get a grip on my life. 
For a long time, I assumed happiness to be an ever elusive charm; a state of mind that can be attained after eating tons of chocolates and ice-cream. However, that state of mind was short-lived. As soon as the tub of ice-cream was empty, happiness evaporated and I was back to my whining mode. Of course I am not talking about the perils of being pseudo happy: the jiggling layers of fat on my belly that I accumulated to achieve the short-termed elusive state of mind!
During one such marathon chocolate-eating sessions,…

The Peace Amidst Chaos

In my mind, there is always a cobweb of thoughts running in a loop: worries about my parents' health, anxiety over the work deadlines, fear about my future; the thoughts go on and on. So, when I decided to take my parents on a short trip to Banaras, I was anxious over charting out the travel plan and executing it to perfection. My parents, on the other hand, were initially reluctant and later very excited to go to the holy city for the umpteenth time. But the bone of contention between us was the travel plan itself. While I was stressing on early reservation and booking for the trains and hotel, they were thrilled over traveling by a bus overnight and staying at a place with bare minimum facilities. No prizes for guessing that they are more adventurous than me. Needless to say, I could manage to book the train tickets only.
Banaras has a charm that never fades away. Though I have visited the city a couple of times, I still look forward to roam across those narrow by-lanes and rev…