Posted by: miilee | February 8, 2010

It’s the Journey

An essential part of any trip for me is the period of actual travelling; of moving from home to the other end, wherever it is. I’ve never travelled by planes and somehow, I don’t find the idea too appealing. Especially when I’m travelling within my country. I’ve been teased about this because people think I’m just hiding some deep rooted fear of heights or of flights etc behind a smoke screen of harbouring a deep love for rail or road travel. In fact, one of my most beloved journeys so far is the one from Mumbai to Guwahati in the Lok ManyaTerminus -Guwahati Express. By far the most neglected and also the second longest rail route of the country, almost everyone else who has travelled in this train has asked me the same question; Why? Why do I like this journey so much.

Some wise person once said that it is not the destination but the journey that makes it worth the while. I would say I agree completely. When I am travelling from Mumbai to Sikkim, I’d rather take the rail or the road. The train journey is as much a mandatory part of the experience for me as the destination itself. It gives me time to get used to the idea of breaking away from my routine, which as I’d explained in my first Scroll, Inertia and Jerks is the main motive behind my travelling.

I’d travelled by this train two times (four, if you count the return journey) before I boarded it again on the 19th of Jan, 2010 to start off on my Industrial Visit to Sikkim with my class. It was at the back of my mind that I’m an old hand at this cumbersome journey and could take it in my stride easily. What I hadn’t accommodated in these comfortable and slightly boastful thoughts was that the two earlier journeys had been undertaken in the sweltering heat of May across the burning hot plate of the planes of Central India. January was to be another thing all together. Once out onto the planes, it was not just cold, it was foggy. The nights were freezing and the day hardly warmed my skin. In the earlier instances, I’d been compelled to take a make shift bath in the train’s distinctly unclean toilets to find solace from the heat and body-odour. This time, I was beneath some three layers of clothing. It was an important lesson in under estimating conditions and over estimating myself.  It also gave me yet another reason to keep the journey in my good books.

Also, this journey is my way of respecting the distance I’m covering. If I really am planing to travel far, it should feel like a long journey and there is nothing like the constant rhythm of the train and rapidly passing landscape to sink that into your head. At the end of the whole affair, you really do feel like you’ve actually moved from one end of the country to the other. If you allow it to, it sinks into you that you’ve come a long way. And most importantly, for those of us who really give it a thought, it makes us  respect the distance; something we’ve forgotten to do in this age of the Fast and the Furious.

There is another element to it too. Since my childhood, I have been bombarded with descriptions of Indian’s Diversity so many times and so repetitively that in my mind, it was reduced a clichéd rhetoric that I personally also am guilty of using without having understood or encountered it personally. But when I did have my first face-to-face wit India’s vivid and vibrant patchwork, I actually understood the words and was left breathlessly awed by them. It is the tang of this diversity that I like when travelling within the country. The land outside changes. The language changes. The very feel of the train changes and so does the climate. Every time I take the time to look outside the window, I feel my breath leaving me on a sigh. A sigh of silent awe. An acknowledgement of this treasure trove of variety that is my motherland. And swiftly following that, a glow of pride that all of it belonged to me. My Country. And that smile stays on me much longer than the grime of the train. It really makes the journey worth the effort.



  1. Happy to know people Still Love Trains….:-)

    “The train journey is as much a mandatory part of the experience for me as the destination itself”

    Really Great words….

    I would like to add a fact that mumbai – guwhati is not the 2nd longest Route I think it is Trivandrum- guwhati


    • Well, I read that in a railway booklet…. but I’ll find out 🙂
      n thanks for reading!

  2. That hackneyed diversity-of-India, I like it. Also the respect for the distance, that’s good.

    • Thanks 🙂

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