My journey: Connecting the two ends of Kerala
Guys, as all of you know, I am from Kasaragod (even though some of you call it ‘Kozhikode’), the northern end of Kerala. The distance from Kasaragod to Trivandrum is around 469 kms, covering almost 10 districts of kerala. I prefer to travel by train especially in the evening since I can reach home after a good night’s sleep. Yeah, its really like I have reached my dream destination after a long, sweet dream.
Basically I love to travel and explore new destinations, so I am not bored with a 15-hour journey. In my childhood, I had always wanted to travel in train, and as I grew up, I used to look forward to long train journeys. In those days, the nearest destination was a 2-hour journey to Kannur or Mangalore. However, after my degree course, I got pretty accustomed with train journeys and used to go in shuttle services for job interviews to Bangalore, Kozhikode, Kochi,Trivandrum, and Bangalore. I was even very familiar with the railway time tables. I still have really great memories of the Indian Railways, the world’s largest transportation services provider.
At first, my trips were to Ernakulam. Needless to say, it gave sleepless night for my parents. This was partly because of the train timings - the train usually departs from Ernakulam at 11.30 PM but it might get extended to 12.00 AM or 2.00 AM and my return trip to Ernakulam was at 1.00 AM or 3.30 AM Now, since I am in trivandrum, they don’t have too much to bother about. The train departs sharply at 6.30 PM and arrives at 8.30 AM
The railway station, is in fact, a microcosm of life, a ‘mini India’ that displays unity in diversity. With a train ticket, you can travel to almost all places within the country, whether it's Jammu & Kashmir or Kanyakumari. It’s a place where we can come across a mass of humanity - people from different communities, religion, and strata of society - rushing through life in a fervent bid to pursue their dreams. Here you can meet all kinds of people - slum dwellers, employees, chaiwalas, the handicapped, destitute, lottery walas, small merchants, beggars, robbers and what not.
Quite often, during my trips, I get the chance to meet people from every nook and corner of the country including Malayalis, Tamilians, Bengalis, Gujaratis, Kashmiris and sometimes, even foreigners. My train trips have given me a lot of beautiful memories, and some really tragic ones too.
A group of old people were travelling from Gujarat to kanyakumari to watch sunrise and sunset.They were sharing their experiences in South India to some of the fellow passengers. One of them was a soldier who had been serving the Indian army for more than 12 years. He described the life of soldiers in the borders and their desire to see their hometown. I can still sense the happiness and excitement on his face as he got down at Kottayam, his native place.
Another incident that I remember happened during the elections in Kerala. The election fever was in its peak, and the passengers lay wide awake at night discussing the candidates and predicting the results. A midst this hullabaloo, one of my fellow passengers from Trivandrum, who was supposed to get down at Kozhikode, forgot to get down and instead got off at Koyilandy, the next stop.
However, all things do not end happily. I have been part of a tragic mishap which took four lives. I still remember how the train shook all of a sudden with a loud sound and came to a halt. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the bandaged bodies, bruised heads, and the pain and hope in their eyes. I had seen life in all its myriad aspects, the harsh realities of life way beyond our computer screens.
During the famed sabarimala season, there will be a heavy rush of swamis and pilgrims and “sharana manthams” would resound throughout the station. It is in fact a delight to spend your time in the midst of college students and gang of friends, taking in the beauty of the swaying paddy fields and sparkling waters as you pass by. In such moments, distances grow shorter and life becomes more beautiful. Thanks to the long train journeys, I have met many people, made new friends and gained much experiences. Hope my future trips bring in many more fascinating experiences that I can cherish throughout my life.