Friday, February 05, 2010

Notes from a Train Diary

It has been many years since a train journey to Hyderabad. Too many, I fear, because as this train snakes its way further and further south, it feels much more like going to Hyderabad than taking a flight. The anticipation and excitement have settled firmly into my stomach. Suddenly the prospect of waking S up at some obscene hour of the morning and making sure that she is alright is enough to make me grin at the rather surprised man in the opposite seat. He undoubtedly thinks I'm being friendly and will presently begin a conversation!


You'd think that by now I'd have learned that the more you run away from something, the more persistently, the more doggedly it follows you. The IInd AC compartment was supposed to be the quiet journey of my daydreams... the "me-time" that I'm craving . The plan was to put my feet up on the opposite seat and re-read my way through 31 Songs. But with a side seat and some eight men squeezed into the compartment opposite me, all of whom belong to some kind of sports team, I don't think so. Pray I don't get arrested for murder by the time we get to Hyderabad.


The technological change/advance in India is nowhere more apparent to me than it is in this train bogey. There are at least five laptops (I suspect there are more) within a ten foot distance of me. Mp3 players, phones and other things are blaring their own songs – from old Hindi numbers and what I suspect is music from a selection of B Grade Punjabi and Hindi films to Akon and other bullshit hip-hop and rap. Train travel was a lot less noisy six years ago. Pity is, glaring for 3 hours straight isn't getting the volumes down. The guys right opposite have been watching 3 different movies through the afternoon. The headache I have is much more because of the cacophony than being cooped up in a train all day.


For the first time in a train journey, I have not spent most of the daylight hours at the door. I reckon that’s mainly because the landscape has changed beyond recognition. When I could once experiment and learn at the door, this time I didn't find much to keep me there. Little towns and settlements have sprung up over the wide open spaces. Ugly pink and green two-three storey buildings and empty construction shells dot the route from Maharashtra to Hyderabad instead of those interesting trees. I looked and looked after Daund but I couldn't locate the lake of my first attempts at photography.


I have only a few hours left in this space and most of them will be spent asleep. Very, very unfortunately, this journey is nothing that I expected or even imagined. It’s been noisy, intrusive and I can’t wait for it to bloody get over. This has been a loss of innocence... of sorts. Truth be told, a part of me was looking forward to the random conversation... looking forward to the “Why aren’t you married” and “Why do you read the books you do?” conversations. Instead, I've had bad music and loud, intrusive hockey players to deal with.

Kill me now.


Lekhni said...

You know what the best way to recover from this bad experience is? Take another train journey. It can only be better, right?

**Runs away**

Diwakar Sinha said...

@Lekhni: lol!
but really, it was bad luck, nothing else. but if by chance you happen to listen to Lekhni, and take another journey, do keep us updated. :)

Extempore said...

@Lekhni: Hope springs eternal, Lekhni... it can only get better, no? However you see "better", that is!

@Diwakar: Should be off to Goa soon... will keep you posted! :-)

Lekhni said...

Good point on the hope part. I do seem to have selective amnesia when it comes to train journeys of the past.

'Train-mates' can make or break a journey, especially a long one :(

Parth said...

:) You need noise cancelling headphones.

Extempore said...

@Lekhni: 16 hours wasn't that long... more than and I would *certainly* have been arrested for murder!

@Parth: And the ipod touch 32GB as well? :)