The alarm buzzed at five in the morning and without any attempt of delay my eyes were opened as if they were programmed for the upcoming schedule. After all, it was not just another day. I had a journey planned from my hometown to Jodhpur and from jodhpur to Bengaluru.
A journey which would help me to discover a new side of my own self. A rush of adrenaline and a sort of alacrity was forging me to hasten up things. At sharp 6:00 am, I picked up my luggage and headed towards the railway station. By the time I reached there, the clock struck 6:15 am, exactly the time of my train. I looked at the electronic display board and heard a treble mettalic sound announcing the details of scheduled trains. Mine was ready to arrive at platform number two. The platform was buzzing with sound of different kinds. The recurring railway announcements, the voice of the chai-wallas, the vendors, noise of people selling, talking, discussing, running to their destinations, trains’ whistling which were ready to proceed and many more sounds of such kind.
The place was full of people even early in the morning; there were travelers and visitors all around. It seemed like a world in itself; just like a microcosm of indian society. There were men, women, children and I was ready to set about for a journey of ten hours to Jodhpur. No one knew anyone, the only thing which connected us was this train and our expedition.
I was nervous inside not because I was travelling solo, but because I was anxious about the people I’m going to have a seat with. But I did not allow it to be reflected on my face, as my dad would have figured it out and might have taken me home cancelling all my further plans. It was a damn difficult task to finally convince him for this. Now, when I had, I didn’t want to ruin it.
And in the middle of all this, I saw my train approaching. I joined the rush of people as everybody hurried towards the coach. I boarded the train at 6:30 am and bid adieu to my father who was trying his best to hide his fear in his smile. But this was to be happened someday. I went inside looking for my seat and saw almost everyone inside the compartment was asleep. I checked my seat number and to my first disappointment, it was a side upper berth( I prefer window seats).
Whatever, I climbed on that berth and just the time when I made myself sit comfortably and started thinking about what to do next, I heard a human horn honking around. God what a start! I had heard and read about train journeys a lot about how interesting and surprisingly unpredictable they are. I wonder what was going to happen in mine.
There was no window to look outside, everyone else was sleeping or yawning , all the lower berths were occupied, so I had no option to sit anywhere except my upper berth. But one thing was good, that is the peaceful atmosphere which is perfect to enjoy a novel or anything which demands silence. I took one out of my handbag and lost myself in it for one or two hours.
As the day wore on, people started with their daily routines. Using the washroom, sipping tea in tiny kulhad, buying breakfasts and newspapers, brushing their teeth and sort of stuff. I was looking for someone of my age whom I can talk to. I found none. There was a family, a big one, sitting in front of me. They were all couples with one sweet little girl. They were hardly even looking at me and were busy in their own discussions.
Though, I had nobody to talk to, yet, I was excited and happy to be out of my confines and that too alone. I felt more at ease and was free from the stress of chores. No projects to be done, no meals to cook, no deadlines to meet, I was free like a bird in the sky. I saw a person listening music and just then the brilliant idea struck me in the middle of all the hustle bustle. I plugged in my ear phones and closed my eyes. This is my one favourite thing to do while travelling. Listening to my favourite numbers over and over again. It helps me in shedding all my inhibitions and pressures and partake of a relaxing nap from which I was brought back by a high-pitched loud voice of a woman. At once, she seemed like shouting and scolding someone, but after paying little bit of attention to her, I came to know she was giving instructions to her husband about how to change the nappy pad of their child and she was doing that irritatingly and was getting frustrated over him. The woman was continuously addressing him with the word- ‘ Yaar’ which I found inappropriate. I mean the man is your better-half, he deserves some level of respect. The hubby was obligated, apparently there was no other option except listening and following whatever she was saying, for his wife was dominant in nature and it was a public place. Poor chap * giggles*. Anyway, none of my business. I am here to ENJOYYYY!!!
I took my lunch and to tell you it seemed royal as compared to the other passengers. They were not carrying lunch and they had to buy it from the railways stations. That food often have hell lot of spices and oil which nobody prefers to eat but is left with no other option. Mine was cooked at home with the right amount of oil and spices in it. There is also something special about being hungry in train and having just the best food packed with you while travelling. Eating in a moving vehicle with strangers all around is kind of a different experience. People offer you their pickles and chutneys and veggies holding the containers tightly flashing a genuine smile on their faces. I opened my box carefully yet excitedly and started eating. Eating on long distance train is an experience one must have because that time you savor each bite of your meal, if you are really hungry. Usually television screens and mobile phones take away the attention. In train, even a simple dish gives a pleasure of a royal feast. Just when I finished my lunch, a series of yawns followed and with the passing time, I slept.
After a few hours, I woke up by my ringing cellular phone. It was my dad, he was enquiring about the distance I had covered and if I had taken my lunch. Just then a beautiful sight captured my attention. I saw the little baby girl sleeping with her mother holding her tightly. I remember this feeling of coziness when someone you love wraps their arms around you and you feel protected and secure. One of the best feelings ever. I wanted to capture that beautiful gesture in my cellphone but couldn’t as the fellow travellers would have caught me. Meanwhile, I enquired about which is the next stop and also tried checking google maps. They told me only one hour is left.
I saw an empty seat below my berth and that is when I finally got down and occupied it without making any delay. I began contemplating when I was looking outside the window, seeing the passing stations and landscapes. My journey was about to be over within an hour, various thoughts were passing through my mind. Till yesterday, I was a girl afraid of travelling alone. It was a big deal for me. My heart was always uncertain and filled with meaningless fears and suspicions about this and for the sort of people you meet on trains.
However, this one step forward of travelling solo have brought this positive change in me; it has helped me in getting rid of those awful notions which I earlier had. It’s not like all my fears are gone at once and all of a sudden I have got a new personality or something. But, yes it has indeed helped me in attaining some sort of courage and patience of going past them. For a girl like me, who has never been out without anyone by her side, doing such thing is no less than a little accomplishment in itself. The best thing about it is that I crossed those psychological barriers of doing things alone and I managed my stuff without anybody’s help. In future, I can consider myself capable of doing this at least. I used to think badly about people before this specially in a country like ours. But, now I have seen it is not the case with everyone and it’s safe to travel alone. Everybody has their own issues to ponder upon and stuff to carry on, no one gives a damn about what you are doing and what you might think about them.
For them, it was just a journey, but for me it was an exploration and a start of many upcoming journeys like this one. Half an hour later, the train came to a halt and I saw the hoarding declared Jodhpur Jn. I disembarked at my destination, and the feeling was wonderful. I was not tired at all, infact, I was feeling like a baby bird who has successfully completed her first flight.