Four months in college seems like a lifetime and two months at home seems to pass in an instant. Just yesterday I was crossing days off my calendar, counting down, and waiting for the day when I would be home again. Today, 2 months later, I am on the train and heading back towards the land of extreme temperatures, Jodhpur.
Jodhpur is 2500 kilometres away from Coimbatore. A journey that can be covered in either 12 hours or 48 hours depending on the mode of transport. My preferred mode of transport is the aeroplane. I love flying and life is so much easier when you do not have to spend time cooped up in a steel container with screaming children. Don’t get me wrong, I love children, but I prefer peace and quiet to an orchestra of bawling babies and yelling toddlers. Also, you reach your destination the same day you leave. But, unfortunately, I have not started earning yet and since my dad pays for my ticket I have to go by his preferred mode of transport, the cheaper one.
I am not complaining, not much anyway, because the experience of travelling half way across India in a train is an adventure unto itself. You can sit glued to the window, staring outside for the entire journey, and still not get bored. I’ve always found it fascinating, how the gentle hills, and the smooth, undulating plains of the South flow seamlessly into the rugged, tough and craggy landscape of the North West, each beautiful in its own right. I can sit for hours by the window and watch the world go by me.
Even if you aren’t the kind the kind that finds poetry in the passing scenery, but are more of a people person, you needn’t worry. You’ll find a myriad of fascinating people around you. A train journey from one region of India to another is the perfect place to find a cross-section of people from different cultures, with different identities, and who speak different languages. It is a psychologist’s heaven and his worst nightmare. One coach has approximately 72 people, and one train can have anywhere from 10 to 24 coaches. You do the maths. That many people, each with his, or her, own quirk, all travelling together. Imagine each person as a unique sound. Together, they can create either the world’s most beautiful melody or they can sound like nails tearing across a blackboard. You’ll either get off the train with a splitting headache or a smug satisfied expression on your face. Either way you would have had the adventure of a lifetime.
You’re probably agreeing with me right now, or are wondering how on Earth I can know this. When you have spent half your life travelling, you tend to pick up and recognize certain things. For example, my years of waiting at the railway platform have made realize that a train is a bit like a diva. It doesn’t care about you and will follow its own rules. Sometimes it will be late, very late and will successfully mess up your entire, carefully made out, schedule. But when it finally does chug into the station, unapologetic and remorseless, you are only thankful that it has arrived and that the show can go on, albeit not completely as planned.