Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Northern Sojourn Day I, II: 'Mein Dilli Hoon'

Day I

Delhi is one of the four cities I wanted to visit for a long time. Multiple times in the past, I had to cancel my plans to visit Delhi; hence, this time I was a bit worried whether history will repeat again. Coming back to home from office without a key almost did it. Getting another key took some time, but not enough to derail the plan. After quickly packing all items I took an auto to Jayanagar metro station and then a train to Majestic. After boarding Metro to Bangalore city station only I realized the cold fact that, camera is missing!!! Well, there isn't enough time to go back pick it again.

Mine was the last boggie in Rajdhani, an unfortunate position which created problems throughout the journey. Whenever train stops in a station we found ourselves at the end of platform where hardly any vendors bothered to set up a stall.

Traveling alone has it advantages and disadvantages. One certain disadvantage, is you may have to move around to bring some other family together. Most often, one member of a family traveling in your compartment might be somewhere else. This time also, it was no different. But that guy's berth was on other end of the train and they were traveling only half way. I had to politely decline the request.

Our compartment had two families. One from Andra and other from Bhopal. Each had one kid. There were two more guys in that compartment. One from Nagpur and other from Varanasi. Families with kids were up till 11 pm with also kept me awake till that time as I was in middle berth.

Meanwhile, the guy from Varanasi spent most of his time in mobile calling friends and family. He looked so sad and dull, almost like a portrait of a protagonist from a tragic movie. Well, after a I found out that he was leaving Bangalore forever, there is a special emphasis on the word 'forever'. Looks like the loss of friends and neighborhoods in Bangalore pushed him to a spiral of sadness or is there anything more? Well, I don't know. Let's move our attention to the remaining guy in that compartment, a tall well built man in his late twenties wearing full formals. He was a environment consultant from Nagpur and his company advises Bangalore government agencies in rejuvenating environmental bodies. He was on his way back to Nagpur after a meeting. By the way, Bangalore has everything to rejuvenate. Uncontrolled industrial and real-estate growth made so many water-bodies disappear; whatever remaining is either polluted to the extent that even water catches fire. Burning and frothing lakes are nor rare in Bangalore. People don't want to live near many lakes (Varthur etc) as foul smell from it spreads over more than 2kms.

Soon food came. Rice, paneer, dal, roti - not so bad.

Time for a good sleep.

Day II

Sun cracked open the blanket of darkness by the time I woke up. Train was moving fast to Secandrabad station, here Rajdhani stops for sometime. I went outside, there was hardly anything nearby - disadvantages of being in last boggie. Somehow I ended up in last boggy throughout my trip!!!

When I went back, our Varanasi guy (side upper) was also up. He face looked like a guy who just went through a break up. His voice was so calm, and language was full of emotion. As per him the problem is he leaving the city and friends which was his home or last four years. By the way, he is moving closer to home - Noida (compared to Bangalore). I saw a lot of people leaving Bangalore in last 10 years but no one sad as him, many were even too happy. After having a brief chat he went back to his mobile.

By the way breakfast came - Bread butter jam, Tea, Veg cutlet, juice (tetra pack).

Even Railway's prestigious train Rajdhani is not fast enough. Its tired engine slowly dragged us to Kazhipet Junction where one of the families left us. Railways should invest more on completing doubling of all major lines and automatic signaling system, this will definitely enable trains to go faster.

After watching outside through side glass I woke up from my seat and took a walk through the length of train. Most compartments were filled with families; some were up and hearing music, talking to each other, eating snacks, watching movies. Some others quietly went to sleep after having breakfast. Hardly anyone was looking outside and enjoying sceneries. By the way, there was hardly anything to watch outside. For long it was simply dry farmland were here and there some skinny farmers in white dress were working with their years old equipments. After a while it was small hills which were desperately trying to hide their otherwise naked body with some bushes. For tens of kilometers there were hardly any human habitat. Oh, I forgot to say, there were so many dried rivers and streams as well.

I also started watching a movie - '180° South'. In case you are a traveler then this is for you. As Yvon Chouinard says "Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all... but we just went for it". After movie, I resumed Robert Ludlum's Sigma Protocol. In January 2017, I also joined Goodread's pledge of read books. My pledge for 2017 was to read 36 books. This is december and I completed only one - Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance'!!! I took 'Sigma Protocol' for two reasons, first one is I like Robert Ludlum's books (after reading complete 'Bourne Series' some 12 years back); second thing is, I need some books where the storyline is thrilling and move very fast.

Finally its lunch time. Family from Bhopal ordered lunch from outside as she doesn't like food served in railways till Bhopal (By the way she is from Bhopal!!!). Our environment guy clarified that food from Nagpur is also good (he is from Nagpur!!!). I think food's quality and taste has less to do with places and more to do with people's taste. However, as far as railway food is concerned it has everything to with railways; nothing to do with place. When we reached Nagpur our environment guy and his friend got down and their place were occupied by two guys in their fifties. One of them had a kind of musical voice and was very pleasant. The other one along with him seldom talks and most of the time looking at him and smiling. The guy with musical voice became very friendly with remaining kid very fast. Two more guys joined from here; but they managed to get replacements from other boggies and moved out. One of their replacement came straight to the boggie and went to upper berth. Apart from going to toilet, here never came down from there. The other one had a phone with a very big screen he pasted his retina right in the screen.

Sun moved fast in westward direction and his rays where taking longer to reach this part of earth. Our train was running somewhere close to Satpura National Park. I looked outside to catch an evening glimpse. Suddenly I saw the stunning formations drawn by setting sun in that vast space. Ground was flat and there were hardly anything other that a few shrubs couple of feet high. I wish I could describe it in words, alas I can't. Some views can'be described and are for eyes only. I never saw a sunset as beautiful as this one is.

At night train reached Bhopal. Remaining family also left the train. Slowly engine pulled us away from Bhopal city. Rajdhani's right time at Hazrat Nizzamuddin (HZM) is 5.55am. I woke up at 4 itself. There was not enough space in train's toilet to take a bath; but somehow I managed it. It was indeed very cold especially at morning 4 'o' clock in December winter of Delhi. After bath, it was just waiting for the train to reach HZM. By, 6.15 out fully tired dragged us to station. I told bye to our solo guy and started looking for Clock room.


PS: 'Mein Dilli Hoon' is an old series by Doordarshan about history of Delhi