So, we returned back to India in the last week of March. While Germany had been a not-so-warm 2 deg Celsius, Bangalore was a bit hotter – (by just about 30 degrees C). The first two weeks were miserable as far as the weather went. However, they were absolutely marvelous since we were able to meet up with some old friends. We also had food at all our old ‘joints’ and loved it!
We had booked train tickets to Goa – it being the magical place it is where one can relax completely. We boarded the Chennai-Vasco Express which left in the evening. The train took off at an unhurried pace of maybe 20 kph for almost half an hour, and one of the big reasons to take a Sleeper class ticket (feel the breeze blow in as the train gathers speed) was now being ‘patience-tested’. Trains haven’t changed too much in the last 30 years, and neither have the pains and joys associated with it. The word ‘Safar’ meaning ‘journey’ in Hindi is a homophone for ‘Suffer’ at times, but the heart is a musician. Its tempo increased and it drummed along nicely as the train gathered speed.
We now had a funny sight in front of us. Lots of fellow Indians, seemingly nodding side-to-side as the train shook and sped on. Soon, the typical sight of people struggling with heavy bags, taking a pause at the door to cool down, started trickling in. Many people (for reasons unknown to me) end up boarding the wrong bogie, and then need to traverse through the train for their seat.
We’d bought along a sleeping bag which doubled up as a mattress and blanket. It was late night now and people had begun to nod off (the secondary nodding being of the sleepy kind). That’s when we saw two men go into the washroom together, for smoking a cigarette. All this while the baked bogie got air-cooled as it ventured into countryside proper.
We went off to sleep, one arm around the camera bag and the purse, ‘protecting’ it while we slept. Within an hour, the sweet spot – where you suddenly discover the posture where you can stretch your back / legs, while still protecting your smaller bags – was discovered.
When we woke up, we saw cotton fields zipping by. ‘’Which direction is East? I hope the sun doesn’t shine straight into the eyes.’’ Meanwhile, like early morning roosters crowing, tea vendors entered and stirred awake the remaining. — > https://gabbartrip.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/kolkata-scenes-from-memory-and-a-memory-card-the-first-couple-of-days/
As we sipped some hot tea, the mind woke up to questions like ‘how do the Egrets stay so white in India!?’ 😉 We saw several straw-and-grass huts, and some structures which were actually just piled-up hay. For all the modern-ness claims and dreams, rural India looked thoroughly agricultural, and very pure and pretty. Due to several long distance train trips in Europe, we started expecting and imagining certain scenes from over there, here as well – rolls of hay/grass harvested, rows of windmills soldiering on. We saw giant ant-hills and were reminded of the staggeringly impressive La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We had left Europe, but had it left us?
Soon, the train was bombarded with the Dharwad-Peda-Light-Infantry, this peda being a tasty milk-based sweet. We love it and as the train passes through the town of Dharwad, it becomes impossible to not pick up a box of these.
The town of Dharwad also reminds me unfailingly of a Professor of mine, who when introducing himself, had mispronounced Dharwad University as Harvard University, while introducing his Alma Mater to us. A decade later, this still elicits a round of laughter when I meet my classmates.
We then crossed the woods of Tavaragatti, where from the train; I caught a glimpse of an old friend – a Lotus pond. Nestled between huge, dense bamboo shoots, this pond evoked a future trip to the region. The description “It was a kind of nowhere, famous for nothing at all, and thus had its own special appeal” from the wonderful book ‘ZAMM’ flashed through.
Breakfast done for everyone, a lot of co-passengers started piling up near doors and windows, anticipating and discussing tunnels, perfecting the settings on the front camera of their phones for the perfect selfie / groupie (if that’s the right word), trying to capture a shot of an upcoming natural wonder; trying to immortalize its memory in pixels.
To be continued in the next part..