The love for trains – I

Posted on June 13, 2012

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A Villupuram-bound passenger on the Cauvery bridge.

What is it that which gives me sheer joy when I see 24 blue-coaches pass by me at tremendous pace led by a mega-size contraption? Why does a child-like smile appear on the otherwise plain and apparent face of mine when a loco pilot waves back at me? Why do I feel a rush of adrenaline when I see the signal turn green on any random railway track? And sometimes, what evokes a tear of joy when I stop on a railway subway or on an overbridge to just catch a train go by?

I do not know. But all I can say is that I share a special bond with trains, Indian Railways to be precise. They might be the dirty, foul-smelling, overcrowded, sweat-laced and foul-smelling sultry coaches which just take you to another place. JUST.

But for me, every train ride means the world. Every spotting of a passenger train, long-freighter, or even a locomotive adds to the tally of brownie points in my bag of joy.
Every train journey is another dimension of life, every ride to a level crossing to spot at least a train gives me, probably, an answer to an unsolved question. The now non-existent level crossings at Kodambakkam, Saidapet, and other vantage locations across the country have played host to such constant tête-à-têtes with thy self.

But sometimes, it is all blank, I want it to be. I would just want to enjoy that moment. Drop what plagues the mind and curbs the thought process. Feel that swirl of air which gains momentum as the trains nears. The metallic clanks caused by wheel vibration, like two swords trying to slice each other. And, as the train draws closer, dust particles collect and form a whirl going hither and thither. By now, the horn has been sounded many a time.

The horn, serves as a warning to unwary passers-by, but for me it is the announcer of that impending upward twitch of cheek muscles, harbinger of that imminent gush of excitement. And, when you combine all these otherwise non-conspicuous noises, they form a melody. A soothing symphony.

It is actually, when observed, like an opera singer’s performance. Starts with silence, then a slow whizz of gentle murmur, a hum, the hum gets louder. It graduates into a rhythm with the engine whirring getting audible and horns booming. That’s when the forces of nature get together, the swishes become whooshes.

Then comes the crescendo when the train is just close to you – melody, followed by that x-moment, those few seconds. You feel blood kissing your skin, like the first drops of skimmed milk poured into a china bowl from a high-level.

Depending on how close you are to the track and train speed, the momentum will take you back – it may vary from a gentle nudge to a violent shove. But this, like others, blends with the process. Orgasmic.

It’s like sitting in one of those quaint open-air theatres, but seeing the movie on DTS. It is probably more than that, it could be the least-degree of comparison metaphorically. Infact, there could be no comparison.

Seeing a train pass has its sheen.

An inexpensive, but very satisfying, thrill. A free and unrestricted source of entertainment. Nothing can be derived out of it, you might say. A lot can be answered with is what I feel.

It’s a close, intimate link, describing it is not easy. And, all until this moment I never wanted to put in words. I search for them when I have to. But when the words come, however clumsy and haphazard they maybe, they have to be penned down.

If not, the same words would never strike me.

For if that moment is gone, just like a train passes, you cannot get it again.

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Posted in: Indian Railways