This winter break was rather a very short one. Probably little over two weeks. But like my buddy’s time at home on thanksgiving, my time was non-stop. I was always onto something – meet family X, call person Y and catch up with friend Z, purchase B, get done the task C. If not anything, spend time on Facebook and emails and watching movies. Not that I disliked any of these (well … some of them), I wouldn’t have done these in that case. But I never got time to think. I never got time to spend with myself. Even though I love being with people I love and I keep on saying that I am not a big fan of my own company, but now I realize how much I can be happy and creative and productive, when I am left alone! Alone also means no internet either – just me and my solitude.
What do I do when I need that time and space to think? Head to mountains! I didn’t have the luxury of time to go to Himalayas. Plus that would have taken long travel time and my own company would have haunted me then. I decided to visit my uncle ji in Dehradun – not Himalayas , but their foot hills! 12 hours of comfortable to-and-fro train journey and 4 hours of company of a wonderful friend Fakru and my uncle ji.
Considering the non-stop days of break so far, I felt liberated in this journey. In fact I am in the process of liberation right now, as I write this aboard Delhi-Dehradun Shatabdi. 5 months of stay in US has given me some identity crisis which I had felt strongly many times in last two weeks in Delhi. Listening to Swades song and jogging, I would hardly feel that dramatic overwhelming sensation. I never was anyway big fan of Indian cities.
Now, sitting by the huge window of train, sipping the lovely scenery outside, I am feeling connected back to my interpretation of India. Passengers of non-Shatabdi train moving parallel to us, marveling at me and my train. I used to be them few years back. The multi-lingual boards of stations reading Deoband in Urdu, English and Hindi. The bundled up people on unsheltered platform.. slowly waking up to the morning after their last night’s slumber under cold winter sky. The raw unaltered natural beauty of Indian greens. I am writing, scripting, directing and producing my own film. And watching it too. And all this Just in Time! I can chose not to write whatever is not adding to the aesthetics of this lovely journey. I am changing the script the way I want. Soundtrack is of my choice. Well I am only listening to Discovery of India for last 2 hours. Through this song, a woman called India, is waking up from sleep and giving out a call to return to Country. And the film non-cyclical. Every scene , every station , every crop field is new. I am sipping the fog covered forests and rivers and fields. Actually, that crazy song peelun peelun, might actually fit more here. I am enjoying every sip of this experience. I noticed that I was smiling all this while. Non-stop!
Fog is not ready to disappear. No matter how much I get away from Delhi, fog is walking with me. Like I did not see sunrise when I was going to Chicago from Delhi for the first time. Every time I opened the window, I would see darkness flying with me.
There were some new and interesting things inside the train too! Train is much more spacious and cleaner. There were sliding doors. There was toilet paper in restroom! When I took my seat, I was thirsty. I wish I could ring a bell like in flight and request for water. What’s the harm in having an airhostess or air-host in a train! There were transparent overhead cabins for placing luggage. You can always look up and reassure yourself that your bag is there. I didn’t use that though , because I needed to dig my bag often and didn’t want bug my co-passenger. But this looked fancy, probably planes may also consider having them. I never saw waiter in train asking for tip. Tip in Shatabdi—holy shit! It’s like a moving restaurant!!! Am I friggin travelin in Palace on Wheels!! And I actually ended up tossin a 10! Well I was pleased with his service too. Plus I wanted to know what it would feel like if I do that in a train!
Now folks inside train. I was intrigued by my ability to establish an unspoken and unexpressed relationship with co-passengers. I just met them.. well not even met them, hardly spoke a word with them, except when I needed to get out and pee and I would request co-passenger in hardly audible words, but mostly through gestures to move and let me out. In spite of this absence of any dialogue or sharing of anything, I felt my decisions and actions and thoughts were influenced by them – when I would make choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian food, when I would make choice of newspaper and when I am writing all this. Not that influence was very heavy and factor in them before making any choice or doing some action, but they do enter in my head, albeit briefly. I try to assess their background, occupation. Which I don’t want to. But probably one does tend to think. Even when one sees a leaf or an apple. At the same time, there is lot of indifference too. I can write my journal entries without feeling conscious or concerns about privacy intrusion. And would otherwise keep my personal diaries deeply and strictly guarded.
And did I mention the computerized-digital-waitlist-reservation-display on the platform?