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.


mathew said...

daa..well written man..train yatra was always super..travelling in train with family and with firends is all together different ball game aint it..

pinee train nee thalliyondu neengunathu alpum ahangaram alle!! ;-P

VMJ said...

dai kunjalle..angane palathum aalochikkumaayirunnu..ollathu paranjaal innu train vidunnathinu munpu njanonnu thalli nokkum :D