I was watching the child for a long time. He had his face glued to the window, watching the scenery flash by as the train sped through the countryside. He would try to catch glimpse of the engine when the train made a turn along a curve by pressing his eyes into the large, fixed window pane of our air conditioned carriage and as soon as he saw it, would turn around his head to spot the tail of the train, the last bogey, trailing at the end. Having accomplished both these tasks, he would resume his general scrutiny of the pull down curtain on top of the window, or would resort to irritate his younger sister , who was innocently trying to sleep in her mother’s arms and would scream her lungs out when her brother succeeded to get to her.
Oh, how I wished I could do that. Not irritating my sister, but to shamelessly stare out the window with no dignity or etiquette to keep in mind. As long as I remember , I have been in love with trains since I was a toddler. My grandpa had gifted me a toy train set when I had been 3 years old, all complete with tracks and a nice little platform and I remember imagining trips to my hometown with my train. Every summer vacation we used to go there to my grandparents’ place and I can’t remember enjoying anything more than the train journey itself. I always dreaded when night fell because that would mean no visibility through the thick glass unless you covered it with the curtains and stuck your head inside to shield yourself from the light inside the compartment that caused the reflections on the window and hindered me from enjoying my views. When every other passenger had fallen asleep and the lights inside were all out, I would sneak out of my blanket and try to look out and find where we were. I would never sleep more than a couple of hours on an overnight journey. The elders had of course had no problem with my obsession when I was young , but when I started growing and this obsession with the window seat showed absolutely no prospect of dying down, they started reprimanding. I can say that I am strong willed and used a considerable amount of that will power to restrain myself from exhibiting “childish” behaviour, but a small part of me, the child always rebelled and used all kinds of persuasion and intellect to let me have the window seat and claim my right.
Fast forwarding to adulthood, I still prefer trains to be my medium of transport and the longer the journey the better. Journeying solo means no pressure to exhibit behaviourial aspects like courtesy and dignity. I always set my preferred berth to be the side lower whenever applicable (currently I am sitting in a train that just has seating option), away from any nosey fellow passenger who would want to know what I do for a living and why the current government would do no better than the previous ones. It’s just the tracks that never end that I would want as my companion and my only wish is that the journey would never end….