I am always fascinated by anything related to railways. Traveling on trains is one of my favorite things in India. Sometime I do write about my fascination with Indian railways. One scene that particularly attracts my attention while traveling on a train is that of people waiting for the rail to pass by so that they can cross the railroad. They have proper level crossing at many places but they are not enough, perhaps. People just cross from anywhere they feel like crossing. Whenever I have to go to Lajpat Nagar, I go via one of those unofficial level crossing near block B of Jangpura. (Chorbato, I was told by my colleague who first showed me that path.) It’s like crossing the road, you have to be careful and watch on the both sides. You have to be quick too. I can see many people crossing from here. Recently I took photos with my iPhone.
The day passed quickly. I was observing people and activities in the train compartments (dibbas). I moved around to feel the atmosphere. While doing so I was always thinking about my backpack that was on my seat. The luggage could be picked up anytime by anyone, I kept telling myself or so I was told about train journey in India by several people. That was the one problem of traveling alone in India, I concluded. You can’t roam around freely without worrying about the safety of your luggage.
I ordered food and that came at around 9 PM. I didn’t know how the seating arrangement worked during night when people needed to sleep. I kept wondering how that seat, the one in the middle of the three-layered berth, could be unfolded to turn that into bed. The moment of revelation came when a person unfolded it to make room to sleep. The three-layered ‘bed’ structure of the seats reminded me of the double bed of the hostel where I spent two years during my pre-primary days.
I didn’t have a blanket or the bed sheet so I just lied on the seat. It was so strange to sleep like that. The backpack was on the floor attached to the side of my seat where my head rested. I think I fell asleep soon….
…only to realize that I was shivering in the middle of the night because of the cold air that was coming in from the windows from the other side of the compartment. I took out the sweater from my bag and used that to cover my head and chest. I knew it wasn’t working but there was no other option. The other clothes I had carried were t-shirts and kurtas only. Somehow the ordeal was done with as the dawn broke and the sunlight started coming through the windows. It was another day in the train.
Next: Trivendram, the town of Dhoti
Gorakhpur Rail Station
The north Indian town of Gorakhpur is not new to many Nepalis who go to many places of India via Sunauli border point. There is even a popular song that mentions Gorakhpur and the lyric goes something like this: “Aama rundai gaun beshi melai ma, chhora rundai Gorakhpur railai ma” [While mother is crying in the fields of village, her son is weeping in a rail in Gorakhpur.] The song must be talking about the plight of poor Nepali migrant workers who go to Indian cities looking for jobs. Thousands of Nepalis do a very difficult journey to find even more difficult jobs that pay little but demand a lot of labor. I had an encounter with a group of such Nepalis in Dailekh-Achham districts last February that was returning home carrying goods like a radio cassette player and cheap clothes. Here is the story that I wrote after following a boy to his home. Continue reading
It should have come up here yesterday but I was too occupied by other activities. I came back to Kathmandu yesterday afternoon. I went to office directly and assumed responsibilities (of talking about the trip with colleagues!). Then to home in the evening. Nothing more for now. I have to finish a story for Koseli today as it goes to press this evening. Then I plan to post more journals from the trip along with the photos.
I arrived in Bombay yesterday morning…got off at Mumbai CST (railway terminal) at around 6 am. I saw a news kiosk that and bought almost all English language newspapers (and a Marathi one: Apala Mahanagar). I quickly found a guest house that was cheap. I threw my backpack, tried to sleep for an hour or so, took shower and got out on the streets of Bombay that were slowly becoming crowded. In the beginning, as I headed unknowingly towards Bombay Stock Exchange tower, I was kind of intimidated by the cityscape. It felt grand. The old colonial styled buildings were impressive I remembered walking on the streets of New York. The streets are wide and clean: I had expected the opposite. I walked around for about two hours…but the place started getting hotter. Soon I found myself inside a travel agency office that offered the tour of the city for Indian Rs 120. In half an hour I was in Gateway of India. By the time the tour ended at 8 PM, I had reached to some of the famous places of the city including Marine Drive to Juhu Beach. Other passengers curiously got up from their seats and ran toward the windows when the guide, pointing a house, said: Amitabh Bachhan. But I was interested in the beach and the towers, not where the actor lived. [More about Bombay in one of the next posts.) Continue reading