Life, on a journey

Train Journey

Train journeys are not always interesting if you are a frequent traveler. When you travel twice a week in the same route and train it can get so boring. I always take either a book to read or charge my Zune fully so I can hear music or podcasts while sitting in the train for long 6-7 hours. But I realized last week that there still could be something interesting if you look around. Last week’s train journey back home was quite interesting that way.

The Thiruvananthapuram-Guruvayur intercity express train is always packed with daily commuters and devotees of Guruvayurappan. Daily commuters would get off mostly at Varkkala, Kollam, Kaayamkulam stations. The devotees to Guruvayur travel with family and there would be new born babies in many of these family groups. I assume that they take their little ones for the “chORooNu” ceremony at Guruvayur temple. It is a pleasure for me to see these babies, mostly because they would come close to the age group of my little one (they would mostly be 5 to 8 months old). Their bright colored dress, wide smiles and naughtiness would remind me of my kiddo and my heart would yearn to get to my son, take him in my arms and plant a kiss on his cheek.

An ordinary seat for three, with no dividers in between doesn’t give you much comfort. So imagine the other two people sitting beside you are XL. The man who sat next to me was a tall, big fellow and there was his wife, who is not so tall but still big, sat beside him. They did not really squeeze me in the beginning, but who has control over their bodies when they fall asleep? So as the train moved, the man’s body went loose and I had to bear much of his body weight.

On another seat was a girl with dark circles around her eyes. The Infosys logo on her backpack explained the dark circles and why she looked so sleepy. She must have worked long schedules to get her leave. You don’t usually spot a regular weekender in a Thursday train. She plugged in the earphones and looked away throughout the journey until she finally got off at Ernakulam. Just a couple of blocks away, a group of cheerful young girls were persuading each other to sing. Finally, they sang together but I guess they were a bit shy, even with their loud voices, so the song faded out after a couple of lines.

When the train passed through the Varkkala-Kollam stretch, I saw many homes that had the Gods’ photos in their sit-outs, all brightly lit with electric bulbs. I guess these are Eazhava houses from the photo of Sri Narayana Guru that took the center stage of the Gods’ photos. Seemed interesting to me because usually the Hindu households would have a lit Deepam on the front.

At Munroe Turutthu, a group of people were waiting to see-off a young man. One of them, an old lady, was weeping loud enough for people inside the train to take notice. A young woman whom the old lady was hugging tight while weeping was looking at others with embarassment and tried to comfort her. As the train slowly moved, rest of the people – all of them looking cheerful except the old lady – moved along with the train to wave to the young man. The old lady, now without a shoulder to cry on stood there alone, still weeping and wiping her tears off with the tip of her saree.

There is something different about the toilet art lately. In the toilet at one end of the compartment had the same sleeze you usually see in the train toilets, but on another end lied a surprise. Here, people were a bit spiritual and philosophical. Here are a few I read while taking a leak.

Body is mortal, but the soul is immortal – Bhagavad Gita“, read one in Malayalam.

Why does Lord Vishnu have five hands? To control our five elements“, again in Malayalam.

We love all, we help all, we are the sons of Lord Krishna“, read another in English.

Another curious one read, “You don’t know yourself, think for once about who you are, then do as you please“.

Finally a fairly new one that read, “I want girls, call 9xxxxx xxxxx“. And next to it another one that read, “Go to your mother“.