Would you believe me, if I said…
My endorphins get released in a state of being aimless and blank?
I feel there is nothing better than a train journey that accelerates the release of those hormones when the vast and never ending farm lands of rustic India keep passing by without any interruptions. The comfort of the entitled bedding provisioned by the Indian Railways in the air conditioned coaches, accompanied by the contrasting visuals of farmers ploughing their piece of land under the scorching sun, are selfishly, a comfortable spot to be in. The continuous rumbling of the running train and the intermittent hiss & screech of the breaks…were enough to put me into a deep slumber. I would invariably wake up by the shrilling voice of the maroon uniformed rail crew announcing to take orders for lunch or dinner. Tipping, helps to get the extra piece of a chicken leg or an egg immersed in an oily gravy. The restlessness would begin when my eyes and nose would start longing for the sight & aroma of freshly packed food placed on aluminium trays. Surprisingly then, the rumbling, hissing & screeching would stop being effective 😉
Unfiltered thoughts passed by like the uninterrupted landscapes. One of them being the thought of budgeted air travel in India which gradually inculcated the mentality of wanting to fly more and socially induced circumstances leading to dearth of time. Fortunately or unfortunately, this surface leveled fast paced life with a “click of a button” mentality is therefore perceived as “the good life”. I wondered hypothetically, on the consequence, if those buttons got installed on our bodies for a pursuit of a faster life and for everyone to track one another. I wouldn’t be surprised if I turned out to be one of the victims. Thanks to the technological advancements & criminal capitalism, which are constantly capitalizing in the trending mindset for instant gratification. Now the question arises: does a slow life really deserve the status of being completely outmoded?
My readers… I will await your inputs.
14 hours of this train journey brought me to Delhi. A subtle fear of deception and misogyny dawned in me as soon as I stepped out of the train. The city always gave me a chill down my spine. This was thanks to media exposure, my limited experience of travelling solo and a conservative cum balanced approach towards any situation. I think, the last attribute is very Southern as it has always helped me strike a balance with my impulses. My instincts made me view and judge men in the station with suspicion, right from the coolies in the station to the pro-active few who offered to help me. I assumed, my rigid body language and an expression of unfamiliarity, were enough for the locals to approach me. However, I was determined to act exactly in the reverse of what people came up with and decided not to resort to the comfort of a coolie carrying my back-pack. I chose to wait for my cab which showed a waiting time of 20 minutes. My jaws dropped along with sweat & saliva! Almost on the verge of succumbing to public suggestions & the dry heat, I saw a number plate at a distance which resembled the number displayed in the Cab-app on my mobile phone. I heaved a deep sigh of relief, pretty much dumped myself & the back pack in the cab and set off for Vasant Kunj to stay for a day with my extended family.
The city seemed prettier than my perception as I was en route Vasant Kunj. The route encompassed significant historical structures built during the British Raj nestled amidst lush green expanse, landscaped parks, wide roads so well planned. A significant part of that stretch, very aptly named after the royal advisor, Chanakya (authored the ancient political treaties, Arthshastra), Chanakyapuri housed embassies & offices of bureaucrats, diplomats, high ranking officials & very old landmark star hotels. That stretch also seemed like a favorite residential enclave for the affluent Delhiites who enjoy the best of the civic amenities in the city. This visit of mine felt like I was indeed in the capital city of our country. Most importantly, the visually enriching sight gave an immense sense of pride as I crossed India Gate, Raj path and many more historical landmarks which were until then viewed and learnt from television and books.
After spending a day in Vasant Kunj, I headed to Gurgaon. The route was frightfully isolated with no soul on the road. Few premium vehicles would pass by intermittently from the opposite direction. I could only notice concrete narrow roads & bushes for as far as my vision could reach. Every scenario that I came across felt skeptical. The only comfort I had at my disposal… was the young cab driver who kept whining for being compensated miserly by the cab company he worked for and the money that he borrowed from his father to buy the cab that was still unpaid. I guessed this was more or less a common story among all cab drivers. I was kind of happy that the driver looked vulnerable & weak which in turn made me feel much stronger. However, I continued to maintain my straight face.
Finally, I reached the concrete jungle named Gurgaon. I was here to join my traveler & blogger friends Himanshu & Shree on their road trip to Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand. Both of them had generously agreed to accommodate me into their travel dates. This helped me leaps & bounds not only to overcome my apprehensions to face the unconquered zone, but also, to bring me closer to my final destination i.e.the village school in Majkhali where I was going to volunteer.
My journey began from Gurgaon with the sacred hymns of Shabad Gurbani- Ik Onkar in the back ground. Proof read by: Maryann Joseph Picture Courtesy: GoogleImages