Whenever I travel the train alone, I prefer the upper berth. Maybe to catch a bird's eye view of my compartmentalized world below or may be to just stay aloof in mine own lonely world. Every train journey, though, is still a mixed bag of experiences for me as it mirrors our lives in the noisy camaraderie of a bustling crowd. Statistically seeing, Indian Railways has mind numbing facts and figures. They also have a hugely popular fan club website, which is meticulously maintained for decades now. One of the most powerful British legacies left behind, trains have shaped our country's image and evolution in many ways. They are the arteries and veins of our economy.
|with due credit to the true owner of this image copyright|
I take a moment to look down from my berth just to see a vivid collage brimming with life. There are families from different cultures and social backgrounds all swimming together into one pool of discussion. Packed lunches shared, garnished with smiles. Two people, who supposedly have never met before, try to guess each others thoughts in a game of chess - that is slowly building a fan club of passers-by. A newspaper is put to the best use, with both sides being read by many people at the same time. Someone in the corner wears a headphone, seemingly cut-off from the rest of the cabin, suddenly chuckles proving that she is on a call and thanks to air-waves, in a remote social world of her own. I hear people discuss events, politics, sports, weather, mom's recipe and even personal issues. Some even exchange contact information. Finally, the music of bhajans floating from a nearby cabin makes the picture complete. Every train compartment is a miniature India in its own. Come another station and newly made friends separate and a new wave of action washes in.
The first thing we learn in school is that man is a social animal. One needs to travel by Indian Railways to witness overwhelming proof of this simple fact. As I sit pondering over my lonely thoughts, looking deeper and deeper inside myself, I wonder... am I missing something? did I happen to forget my fundamental lessons in life?