Sunday, July 10, 2005

Train memories

This post by Annie has brought back memories of my college days, which were not so long ago. I have travelled a lot of times along the Kanpur-Delhi route, mostly to go home and come back to the place I studied. It is an overnight journey as most of my readers would know and I would not eloborate on the trains that ply between the route.
The first time I travelled was with my parents and that was an entirely different issue. The first time I travelled alone on a train was with Gaurav Pandey in the first mid-sem break of the first semester and we had decided to get into the general compartment, which acording to Gaurav is usually empty. Boy, how wrong he was! I had never ever travelled in general and the first time I did, I resolved never to travel in general again, a resolution that I never kept. It was cramped with people and there was absolutely no place to sit! I ended up sitting on the floor and by the end of the journey, I was very, very tired. My back hurt and I was kind of pissed at having subjected myself to it. Of course, the future held far more masochistic deeds, like travelling from Kanpur to Delhi in a bus in December, one of the coldest months of the north. Of course, it was a trip I never repeated as I felt that it would be detrimental to my health (I was literally blue by the end of that trip).
Being in a college which was far from the city and in general, being a lazy ass, I never really got around to booking railway tickets. I would usually buy a general ticket and bribe the TT 50 bucks for a berth in the sleeper compartment. Sometimes, there would be no seat in the sleeper too and I would have to find my own space much like Annie had to do on her trip. But it usually gave you a sense of how cruel and inconsiderate people are. I remember being one of them when I used to travel with my parents with a ticket purchased by my father. I would feel guilty and ashamed of myself at the same time whenever I hogged somebody else's place. Guilty, because I was encroaching and ashamed, because the behaviour the other person exhibited was not quite unlike my behaviour before. Once I had to sleep on the floor and I felt about how countless people in this country go to sleep on the floor somewhere, which is a public space and I was more ashamed at my own feelings toards these poor, homeless chaps before.
Yes, travelling by trains those days in that manner gave you a very realistic picture of our country today and made me feel empathic towards those thousands of travellers who use the trains to travel ticketless. I mean how could people find the money to buy tickets when they cannot even afford their next meal.
So, when a new train was introduced between Kanpur and New Delhi that started in Kanpur, it gave me an opportunity to travel by general again. That I did, yes, that I did. And this time I connected with the people on the general. I noticed that in most cases they were humble and quite nice people with no pretentions of superiority or affability. I would make space for them and they for me. I knew that there is a great majority of people who travel by general and without tickets. They could not afford it. The general ticket costs 100 rupees and this is still a very large amount for the vast majority of people in India. Sad, but true.
When the train was new, I could easily get onto the general compartment without any trouble but as the news of the new train spread, it became more and more difficult to get onto the compartment. As the train approached, there would be a mad rush to get to the doors of the compartments. And there they would wait till the doors were opened and after much jostling, you would get on the compartment to find every place was occupied and the only place one could find was on the floors. As the rush increased, I found myself back in the sleeper compartments.
But I still remember those days of travel by general... Those days were amazing.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bangalore, O' Bangalore!

It has been a long time since I wrote something meaningful on this blog (or anywhere else, for that matter). The reason has been simple. I have become lazy. Yes, again. The laziness to write has afflicted me ever since I started giving serious thought towards the words that I write. My writing has been sporadic and extremely unorganised. I had thought that I would keep up my writing but it hasnt really happened mainly for lack of inspiration which I attribute to the soul-less work I am forced to do to carve out a living. Dont ask me why I do it. Because I wont tell! :)

One thing I do these days is read. I read a lot. Every night I curl up with a book and read upto 200 pages per night. Then I wake up the next morning and go to work. I like reading. It keeps me company and some of these books I am readin really appeal to me. Currently, I am reading The Man by Irving Wallace, Love in the time of cholera by Marquez, The Ultimate Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Katha short stories (vol 4), and many other books. I recently bought more books too, including God Emperor of Dune and Focault's Pendulum. Perhaps, i should respond to Jaya's book tagging me. It is something that I will have a lot to say about. But right now, what really moves me to write is the itch to write something, anything. And that is the reason for this let out of feelings.

Perhaps, I should tell you about last weekend when I freed my mind to the domains of things not imagined or perhaps, I should spare my readers of my craziness. But there is something about Bangalore that I cannot resist. I have never been known to be a outdoor guy. The common complaint in my home, whenever I do go home, is that I sit around on the sofa and watch TV all day and my mother always keeps telling me to get out of the house and taste the world outside. Even in IITK, I would never really leave my room, not even for my classes. Partly the reason why I graduated late.
Soemtimes, I felt that I have missed something by not being a very outgoing guy and I have wondered at people who can never stay at home. So, when I came to Bangalore, I decided that I will not let myself be confined within the walls of the room/home and will taste the world outside. Bangalore is a great place to live in. There are a lot of things one could do here and it is the ideal place to roam around, because of the weather. So I like to just walk around aimlessly. It has happenned a couple of times that I have walked for hours, covering quite a lot distance, exploring new places (perhaps, it is the Diablo effect) and pondering over things that prevail over my mind. The weekends have always been the time when I could be free from my day job and have fun my own way. Once I walked all the way from Miller's road to Indiranagar and another time, I walked from Chinmaya Hospital to Ulsoor lake, spent a couple of hours there and then I walked through Commercial street, Bowring hospital and then I turned left to St Marks road where I followed MG road and entered my usual weekend haunt. It was a long, long walk but I felt rejuvenated after that. To get into Ulsoor lake was a fight and I had to walk a long way to get an opening into the place. But by the side of the lake that afternoon, I could not help wondering where else could I have walked so far in the middle of the day and feel so happy about it? The weather is one big factor in favour of Bangalore but though, there are a lot of things I hate about this place.
I think I am beginning to like this place a lot better than what I endured the first few weeks, when I thought this was a pretentious, over-rich, highly commerical place with people whose heads where filled with goo and there is nothing substantial here. It is a place where the extreme economic difference that exists is starkly visible. A place where people move around in cars and the footpaths are in the worst possible condition.
Not that I have changed these opinions of Bangalore but there are things I have come to know that make it a great place to hang in for now. One could possibly have fun and also be his own self in this place and there is a diversity of people that astonish you at first, which is refreshing to see and experience. You meet people whom you would not have met otherwise. I think my outdoor life in Bangalore is partly due to the paucity of my wingmates here and the reason why I live alone these days. I like it like that, without anyone disturbing you and doing whatever I could in my cosy little home.
Sometimes, I wonder about the path that has laid itself before me and which I have gladly, if not enthusiastically, taken up and I think that it is a pretty good compromise, even though it does not give any satisfaction. I realise that, much like my aimless walks in Bangalore, I have been afflicted with an aimless existence, one that does not appeal to me but one which is inevitable.

Site Analytics

Powered by Blogger

eXTReMe Tracker