Thursday, April 26, 2007

the magic of a rail journey.

every once in a while when my parents used to take me to my grandfathers place in Kottayam we used to take the early morning Venad express from Trivandrum. Venad express is a grand train. Was always there for most parts remaining unchanged except for the time when it got extended from to Shornur.
A journey aboard Venad express is a peek into urban middle class Kerala. The middle aged man travelling to his office in Cochin with a lunch box in hand and the travails of his life etched in the forms of wrinkled lines on his forehead is a ubiquitous sight. So is the group of men in their thirties chattering away in loud voices, or debating over the latest happenings in teh corridors of the state secretariat. I have never seen a society in all of India who is so interested in knowing and discussing about the happenings in the political arena yet so disinclined to actually be a part of it. Mallus are quaint beings, happy in their current state of being, low on ambition, just across a line beyond which you can be called 'not sad' though not quite happy, resigned to the state of things as they are. Then there is at every odd half an hour or so the high pitched wail of a beggar.
For me this train journey would start well in advance. The excitement would start building up days in advance and by the time I was in the train just waiting for it to start moving i would be in a certain state of excitement that I very often would start pushing the train in the direction it was to go. And when it did start moving revel in a certain self of satisfaction inside me borne of the faint belief that my push just might have did that little bit necessary to get the train moving.
Every thing about the route was also familiar to me. i knew each and every station on the way - the ones where we stopped and the ones where we didn’t. And i would get impatient in such cases where the train stopped in stations it wasn’t supposed to. And at times when it stopped in stations i even knew which train was going to pass by on the adjacent track in the opposite direction, as in those days we didn’t have two tracks in the route. And mind you I wasn’t more than 8 years old then.
I would never sleep on a train journey despite the excitement having kept me awake the whole of the previous night and I would pull at my dads sleeves every time a vendor passed by with froootty(frooty) or bedomlait(bread omlet) or cutlayts (cutlets). And it was always coffee the preferred beverage. And unless it had that special taste (which now I realize was a result of adding too much water to the milk) I wouldn’t be quite satisfied with it. And to think that my mom used to call that drainage water.
But then the pinnacle of the excitement is reached at around the mid way between Kayamkulam and mavelikara. As soon as the train rolls into Mavelikara the sense of the journey winding to its end starts welling up inside. The boy who was running around in the compartment would slowly get back to his seat. Soon words become few, and a faint drowsiness would start appearing in the eyes. Then again the energy meter rises up as the train pulls into Kottayam station and we get to pass through the twin dark tunnels. Every child of my age would start yelling out as per a certain unspoken unwritten agreement. But that was it, it peaks there and then it ends.
The journey is almost magical. I still feel the excitement whenever I start out on a train journey out of Trivandrum Central. I don’t remember the stations now, neither do I remember the trains, but when the train gives a jerk and starts out on its journey my heart pounds a bit faster.

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
- Ulysees, Tennyson

The whole world seems like a big unblotted sheet of canvas. Thats what i heard somebody say describing his feeling on his graduation day. Armed with paintbrushes and sure as he can ever be of his talent when teh young renegade tries to whoosh that brush across the canvas a voice looks over his head and asks - "You really wanna do that son?? "
the surety is still there..of course ...cant you see that whoosh is gonna be the beginning of something wonderful.
the voice : "sure? what if its not? cant erase anything you know."
well you dont really care...i'll just get a new canvas the voice inside nudges you ahead.
and again as you bring that brush confidently down, the voice behind takes out his burly hand and just lightly holds the brush and says " well lets just wait a second and ponder over what we are gonna do"
the mind is trying to figure out since when did "we" start to do something. i thought i was going to draw the picture here.
Im getting such whiffs in my summer project these days. what promised out as an amazing oppurtunity to dirty my hands in the suave sleek world of corporate marketing is each day threatening to turn into a little bit more than the assignment that i did on customer behavior in the third trimester.
You dont get to do anything until youve proven yourself and by the time you have proven yourself you are a generation too old and you dont really see the present. it really is an orwellian animal farm out there.

psychic breeds

Have you ever felt looking into the eyes of a dog that he can really see inside you. Whether it be the fear that you have when face to face with a stray or the affection to the house pet. Dogs can do that i tell you. If there is fear in your eyes be assured the stray dog is gonna come after you. and you dog at home really seems to understand your every word and it responds with the slight sway of its head, or an affectionate lick. dogs are amazing creatures, yes they are.
But i didnt start this to write about dogs.
What about people...?
many a boons did god gave man but not the one to read another's mind.
Times are plenty when you feel even those closest to you dont really seem to understand you. Or worse when you dont understand why you do certain things in life. but then again im deviating. im not gonna write about the vanity of life or living or mundane living or anything on those lines. ahh mundanity theres nothing like that ..but thats another days topic.
Then there are this type of people a rare breed who looks into you and you just know that these people read you like an open book. you cant lie you dont even dare do that.
it doesnt necessarily come with time spend or association but its got to do with a certain way in which they latch on to your brain waves and dissect it and really just take out the true essence out of it.
i dont know how much of sense this makes to anybody whos reading it. but then i guess it has to be felt. much like what you talk about dejavu. an absurd concept but we've all had it havent we.

whats it about a new place..?

You love a new place when you are there just as a visitor and the picture just swivels around on its hinge when you are tehre for a longer stay..that is not quite on a vacation. You like it at first, then you hate it and then if you can just bring yourself to love it again then theres something special about teh city.
Delhi has to be undoubtedly teh city to which i have got used to the fastest. Till a few months ago my memories of this grand capital city was a weeks visit in which we cramped in memories of all the famous monuments this city had to offer and nothing more. But this time ive so far given a skip to the monuments, well apart from teh qutub minar which is just about a stones throw away from where i stay.
This time it was more about people, shopping, commotion, the metro, work, college and what else. everything except a vacation i guess.
in sharp contrast to what i had got used to calcutta, delhi never seems to sleep. even if at two in teh night you wake up hearing a grumble in your tummy you know there is more than a chance you would find a tea shop open somehwere. Whereas in calcutta i would have got myself a drink of water and tried to knock myself unconcious or something.
Even in Bangalore which had all nonsensical rhetoric of compulsory shutting down of restaurants after 11 a couple of years back, i knew of several places where i could easily grab an early morning/late night bite.
but more than such triflings the things that more than anything affect your inclination towards a place is the people there, teh people around you and to a lesser extent the weather too if you really want to come up with a third factor.
There is somehitng about a human being, that overbearing instinct to be social. even the most introvert of us at some moments desires company. Human beings are strange animals. Potent enough to kill you, charming enough to make you fall in love with, loud enough to make you feel like tearing your ears, soothing enough to listen to a voice for hours at stretch.
What i am trying to convey here is that its the people that make the place. i got robbed twice, yelled at thrice, was denied service by shopkeepers because he didnt feel like getting up from his comfortable little stool, how do you expect me to post anything good about teh charm of calcutta. i jsut dotn see it over the mistreating, lethargic swarm of people that cloud my eyes.