I boarded the Sheshadri Express from Bapatla at 12.55am, 22/10/2012, even though the scheduled time was at 12.08am (as always the train was late). Train journeys have been a wonder for me always, gathering different types of characters, different types of cultures, different types of customs under the same compartment. This amazement is mainly because of my passion in meeting people, knowing different culture and the love for travelling. I prefer train journeys, especially second class reservation rather than an A.C. coach reservation or a flight for a one-day or one night journey.
In this train, the central character is a blind man who sells key chains, small toys etc, who used to come when the train reaches the station, Cholarpet. Whenever I see him I feel proud and some kind of empathy. Even though he is blind, he is a very enthusiastic person outside coming with an attention seeking toy that makes sound to draw the attention of the people. He won’t scream loud about the gadgets he sells, instead he whispers. I think this could be because of his thinking that there is no need to shout about the gadgets as the buyers have eyes, which he is lacking. When he comes closer, he will nod his head in different directions and will smile to different angles, thinking the person is sitting there, even though he misses the target in majority of the cases. I have been seeing him from the very first time I travelled in this train to Bangalore and today also he was there. I hope to meet him in future also and wish him a long blessed life.
In train journeys, I prefer window seats as I love looking out to the moving tracks. In fact, our lives are also like the life in a moving train, know?! Each second we move forward the present moment moves to the past. We don’t realize that as we are in a hurry in life searching something, chasing something and competing with many things. Yes, I think, all our lives are like a fast moving train, no time to care for the person sitting besides, all with some purpose; boarding from some station and stepping out in some other destined station.
My first memory of a train journey goes back to many years, when I was a 2nd or 3rd standard student. Even though I don’t remember the whole journey, there is one scene imprinted in my brain, which gave me the first moral lesson ever. Our train reached Shoranur station and stopped there for lunch. When I simply looked outside, what I saw was so pathetic and yuck; two kids were picking and eating the remnants from a thrown-out food packet from the dirty track. I remember they were of my age. I felt like crying about the cruelty of this world for treating people differently. But there are times when we become totally helpless even though we want to help them because what we sow is what we reap. The moment I saw this I felt if I were a grown up person; I would have bought them food. This scene had a huge impact on me that I decided I would never waste the food which I get (but at times I used to waste. But no regrets, whenever I waste I would pray God that let that be useful for some form of life in earth). But the agony of the scene remained in me for many years cursing God and everything for this situation to happen. Later, after some years, while I was going through a Sai literature, I saw a similar incident happened to a devotee (I forgot the name) and when he asked Swami why this happens, I was taken aback by Swami’s answer. The divine answer was “what they are picking from the trashes now are what they thrown away in their past lives, when they had many”. I know there are many out there who don’t believe in a past life or such ‘divine craps’. But always remember that life is like the two sides of a coin. We are not spared until we pay back for what we did, good or bad, that is a universal law (blah blah…as if I know about universal law, lol…). Those who don’t believe in past lives please leave this and don’t attack me! I have my personal reasons to believe in past life and life after death. But we all can take the moral lesson in this, can’t we? Let us don’t waste this blessed life.
Another reason why I love train journeys is because of the book sellers who come in between from some stations. We can get all kinds of books for reasonable prices (if you are not a brand-lover or an original version-lover). Majority of the books in my collection are from train journeys. Also train journey is the best time to finish reading a book. I buy books in train journeys not only because of my constrained finance but also I would think that let that be a help for those petty sellers. Those women or men or family coming with harmonium and some old Hindi songs add a special charisma to the journey. They are better than professional performers in mega shows as their stage is their life. I just can’t resist giving them some coins. Life becomes beautiful when we give importance to some small things; as Ogden Nash said, “Small things are beautiful”.
Yet another entertainment in train is the coffee- and tea-sellers. They have different slangs and rhythm when they call out “chai, chai, chai” or “tea, tea, tea” or “coffee, coffee, coffee. Again and again they come to each compartment and will make sure that everybody in the compartment bought one cup atleast. They will be the ‘morning alarms’ in the train (lol).
We get to meet different kinds of people in a train journey. Some will stare at us as if we are some alien or something; some others are shy enough to look at us if we look at them by chance; some others are busy in their own world; yet some others will blabber for no reason at none particular just seeking attention from others; different characters of a big drama.
Ooooooopss… I din’t check the time and it flew away, still I am blabbering here! I reached the Bangalore Cantonment station at 5.30pm even though the scheduled time was 11.30am; as always the train was late running.