Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Tree still grows in Almora [part two]

Traveling in Indian railways can be fun and intimidating too, especially when you are traveling with lot of aunts and uncles...all they want is to eat their homemade food...that could range from ultra tangy mango pickle to a over oily Luchi (pronounced as loo-chi equivalent to Chapathi). I was subjected to tremendous care once I woke up next morning. Being the youngest and most shy, everyone seems to care about me and subjected to over feeding.

Around 6.30 am IST morning, train halted into a unknown station in UP, I opened up the glass window with all my force to see a Sikh Nihang going for a bath in nearby hand pump. What struck my eyes were his gentle eyes and deep blue cloth against grey color foggy morning. He undressed lazily in front of the train and started using hand pump (common place in northern India). As the hot water (coming from underground few hundred feet) touched ground, a mild vapor started engulfing the place.

After another few hours of pretty uninteresting journey, we entered into Lucknow...erstwhile capital of Awadh....the smallish station crowded with scores of people, porters with huge suitcases, chaiwalah, beggar, cross legged sadhu in mediation and other nonchalantly looking people, all in one place.

I slumbered through the motion while carrying my suitcase into a crowded auto stand and from there we took an auto to local hotel, aptly named as Taj. We had a connecting train from Lucknow junction at night.

We arrived at evening and started looking for the train, the now fabled Naini Express. It runs on meter gauge line with no side berths...We jumped onto the train and as soon as it arrived from nearest train shade…I was the first to person to enter showing over-enthusiasm…As more people started boarding the train, I hoped to find a pretty girl fellow traveler! So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bevy of pretty girls group all travelling to Nainital....My mind started racing towards a possible romantic encounter with one of these girls.

Unfortunately nothing romantic happened that night or any of the subsequent nights in my life.

The train started at correct it lumbered into Uttrakhand crossing UP, I remember feeling chilly. The concrete jungle of the cityscape slowly receding behind.

As the train picked up pace, I wondered about my class mates in Calcutta...It was Saptami, 7th day of Durga Puja...perhaps the most popular amongst the 5 days...

What they might be doing? What a striking difference while they are enjoying their sumptuous egg roll filled up chicken balls and careful dose of tomato sauce, here I am! Staring at nothingness....dark tall trees and specs of street light fast going behind...a light fog surrounds the villages as we cross by....Sometimes the sudden honking sound of the train as it moved ahead with furious speed started floating my imagination.

I long to reach the destination...Its’ been a long journey.

[To be continued]