August 30, 2008


It’s a good guess when I say that God has to have eagle eyes. This thought occurred to me while on a three day train journey to Kerala. Well, how else could one pore over us lesser beings from so far above? One has to take it from me when I say that a train journey wins hands-off when competing with an air travel. How can one relish the great creations of god and man together from so high above?

It’s wonderful how the human eye can catch so much in a gaze even through the fast swishes of nature while the train races through villages, over bridges and rivers, through forests and the deserted barren lands. Being a true nature lover I quench my thirst for true natural beauty by traveling by trains at times. Free from the nausea and drilling ear aches during take-offs or landing. Free from watching dressed up moving mannequins showing antics that impress no one! Sometimes I wonder, isn’t it humiliating to wave your hands for all the attention one asks for and no one even bothers except for a few first timers who are awed by this new art form just to be bored after a few more flights. The unbearably pretentious uptight ‘ness’ and the uncomfortably small windows that will show nothing more than “BLUE” after a while, is as uninteresting as a television with no cable! It is then that I start missing train journeys in all their colour. But if only the world today would give me that much time to travel by a train. Any tourist coming to India hasn’t quite seen the true form of it if not traveled by the Indian railways. It’s definitely not scented. It’s not as spick-n-span as the airways of the elite. you might rub shoulders with someone you wouldn’t imagine touching while out there in the open! It all might seem like the horror of horrors! But trust me you haven’t seen India without a journey in its man made lifeline. My father tells me that during his days one would be completely covered with soot from the smoke of the engine by the end of the journey. And it’s a smile and not a grimace on his face while he tells me that. The gentle swaying, the lovely whistle of the engine, the chai and the coffee wallahs chanting their calls through the bogeys… it all just adds up to the lovely experience. I still remember my train journeys as a kid climbing up and scampering down the upper berths of the compartments and making great friends through the journey. As a kid I was the least bothered about the dirt, the grime, the heat, the irritating passengers, or even my parents reprimanding me to not to forget my manners or keeping the volume down while I was busy with my short term friends playing antakshri or even hide and seek within the bogey! Now that’s what I call the good old days of yore! This memory was further strengthened when I saw the latest surf excel ad, where the dad insists on having a train journey so that his son doesn’t miss out on the experience.

After so much time I got to travel by train again. This time I realized what the extravagant quick traveling was costing me. The lush green fields, the solitary farmer ploughing his fields, the deep ravines roaring when we pass above it, the rivers alive with the fishermen casting their nets, the ghats with no life yet growling with mysteries. Sometimes it feels like I’m watching the beautiful “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” video uncut! India’s landscape is so glorious that no visitor can stop himself from falling in love with this beautiful country. It’s truly ‘then’ that the true Indian-ness unfolds within. Being Indian doesn’t lie in cheering the Indian cricket team, or hoisting the national flag on the public holidays, nor in painting ones face with the tricolor and neither in jerking ones bones to the bollywood tunes. The real India is its villages, it culture, its geography! Every Indian who so proudly screams out his Indian-ness should first ask himself this question…. “How much of India has he really seen?”. The motto of our countrymen should be Explore India … the India that is waiting with its hands open and its beauty awaiting visitors to fall in love with… My India… Incredible India!

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