Come summer holidays and one of the things I used to look forward to the most was a nice long train journey. When I was a kid, train journey did not just mean playing endless antakshari or having endless supply of stuff to munch on. I would always carry a notebook and a pen with me. The objective of which was to write down names of all the stations that we would pass by during the journey. Never once have I managed to do it. But still, carrying a notebook would make me feel intelligent and like I had a purpose to the journey. The journey in itself felt important ‘cos it was going to be chronicled and saved for posterity.
The best part about a train journey is the window seat. Random conversations with characters that you meet on the train comes a close next. I used to walk around the compartment hoping to pick up conversations with people who seemed interesting. During some of my most interesting train journeys, I’ve learnt Sindhi (some 10 random sentences like “what is your name” types), spoken about South African safari, discussed other people’s family feud, been enlightened about vegetarian savories that one can carry while travelling to distant lands, exchanged addresses with random kids promising to be their pen pal.
Now, when I take a train (which is mostly between Hyderabad and home), I carry my ipod, and books to read and be lost to the outside world from the moment the journey starts. Conversations with random uncles and aunties don’t seem so enticing anymore. With stories about drugged biscuits and food items, every one is vary of being tricked into eating “one of those food items.”
I’m writing this on the train and I suddenly decide to pick up a conversation with my neighbor. I put my ipod down and look around and some kid in the compartment starts wailing as loud as that tiny being possibly can. Almost as a reflex, I mumble something about flushing these wailing kids down the toilet, and go back to blasting music on my ipod.
I guess I just have to deal with the fact that I’m not 10 anymore 🙂