After having come to Delhi, i had been traveling to Chennai atleast twice a year and except for one time it was always on the TamilNadu express. There is something unique about traveling in train and particularly in this train. It takes about 32 hours to reach Chennai. This 32 hours are is really interesting to me. Sometimes it is full of fun at other times it is solitude nevertheless it has always been very peaceful. Another reason why i like it is except for your mobile you are out of touch with the external world. I have got to meet many interesting people some of whom have continued to come with me in life even after the short travel (it is short :p) and not to forget the breath taking, mind blowing central indian landscape.
The train is generally scheduled for departure from Delhi at 10.30 pm and i usually tend to leave home at about half past 8 pm so that i would be left with more than 45 minutes to spare which i always spend by walking the length and breadth of the station trying to ascertain how many 'tamilians' can be spotted in the station (no particular motives behind this but simple curiosity). Not deviating much from the usual conventions, this time too, i left home approximately at the same time and reached the station with only 15min to spare, thanks to the auto driver who insisted on refueling before proceeding any further and took a wrong road only to find it blocked due to undergoing Delhi Metro construction. With only 15mins to spare i proceeded to check the electronic display to ascertain the platform number (though i am quite aware of it) only to find a malfunctioning display. Not in a mood to take chances, i got it confirmed from the assistance booth and finally reached the same old platform 12 with hardly any place to stand, let alone finding a seat or a bench to sit. The remaining part of the routine passed without largely eventless and i got myself glued to my berth ( a window one ;) since it was a lower berth and luckily nobody requested a swap this time around). The night's sleep was also peaceful and i really enjoy sleeping in the train with the train swaying like a cradle.
I was greeted by a bright and sunny weather the next day. The train had crossed Jhansi and it was time to savour the Tamil Nadu express pantry's menu. Though it is not essentially a treat to your taste buds, it is definitely a safer bet than experimenting something from the platform. One thing i don't like in TamilNadu Express or for that matter any other train is the lack of trash bins. The search for one on two coaches on either side proved futile and i had to be content storing them in a plastic bag and keeping it under the wash basin, with a hope that when the train is sanitized on the way, it would go to the proper place and not like this
The weather was really good to brighten up your mood to face the next 24 hours in train and i was getting ready to my most favourite pass time. You guessed it right... gazing out of the window and enjoying the amazing central indian landscape. After having studied geography,a bit in detail, these landscapes paint a different picture apart from their visual beauty. Most of the times it leaves me wondering about the evolution of that landscape and i get lost in thoughts of presence of water to a height of 200 meters above ground, slowly eating away the pieces of rocks from lofty mountains, millimeters at a time, for so many years and evolving into a mountain pass or a small water body passing through two blocks of mountains or a gradually subsiding land with a gentle slope with a small stream.... no amount of words will describe the experience but a few pictures might :). Madhya pradesh, the third state to come since the starting is simply awesome
When i was still wondering, the trained pulled into the Nagpur station which brings us to the 4th state of the jouirney, Maharashtra. One thing i never miss in Nagpur is the Oranges. I see them all round the year and the prices haven't changed in all these days i have traveled. During my childhood, i have heard from my neighbours that one has to get down and refill the water tanks on the train at Nagpur station, if the toilets need to be used any further. Fortunately it is not the case these days. The entire train was properly sanitized and the tanks refilled by the railway employees. The poorof the station though catches my attention every time and nothing much has been done in that regard so far. Not to forget the Haldiram and Nescafe stalls in the platform which i never fail to visit :). Here again the brilliant scheduling of the train comes into picture. It has been so timed that the train reaches one major station during the time of a meal and those are the only stops in its journey of roughly 2300 km. Nagpur coincides with lunch time and mostly the train runs an hour behind schedule. As the train pulled out of the station i slipped i was already planning for a short nap which actually turned out to be a rather long one.
The evening was largely event less and passed with a cup of tea and some more gazing until sun dipped and disappeared finally. The co passengers did not strike a chord this time around and by and large the interaction never went beyond exchanging pleasantries. From evening to twilight to dusk to night the transition was quiet and the train entered the state of Andhra Pradesh. Many of us have read about smog and if light permits we can actually see the presence of smog in some of these places in andhra where huge factories (cement i guess) are located.
The next phase of the journey is going to take me from Chennai after a gap of 1 day to some other interesting places of Tamilnadu.... do keep a watch out and please do tell me how bored are u with this :p