To know the soul of a country you must travel by the train

To know the soul of a country you must travel by the train

The soul of India lives in its villages
-MK. Gandhi

To get a sound knowledge of the life in the country you are travelling through, you must know about its villages. Rural areas are the places where the soul of a country undoubtedly lies in. Gandhi’s words aren’t restricted just to India, but It holds very true for every single Nation that exists today. To know the soul, there are no better ways othert than choosing a train to travel!

Image Source-Pixabay

It took me 19 odd years of wait to see the train moving live for the first time in my life. In the locality where I live in, there is no way the train can ever make its first appearance, atleast in my lifetime, because the terrain is hilly and zigzag. This region is situated at a height of over 1500m from the sea level. I know that in many other places in the world, train services are running successfully even at a height of over 4000m. But in my country, ie India, the government finds it difficult to construct rail lanes in hilly areas such as ours. Me being a person hailing from a family which was categorized as BPL(Below Poverty Line) in government records as well as in reality, it was unlikely that I could ever expect of travelling beyond the boundaries set by my parents. In their restless struggle to eke out a living, my parents had almost forgotten the idea of visiting nearby places, leave alone far located tourist destinations!

Ever since I was a little boy, I always wished of travelling by a train. I wondered what it would be like to be inside that snake-like metal body. To my dismay, I couldn’t do anything apart from indulging in the incessant dreams of the same! It was like my dream come true when I first heard the name of the place where I was to spend my next 4 years to pursue the graduation. I travelled to Oddanchathram which is located about 200kms far from my home town. I was hopping in ecstasy not because I was entering a new college, but because I knew that Oddanchathram had a railway station in it! I would be able tro see a train moving live. I can travel! No boundaries in place set by my parents! I was in utmost happiness!

Oddanchathram railway station. Source- indianrailinfo

I was about to turn 18 when I walked into my first year classroom in 2011. I thought it was the end of my long wait to witness a moving train. I asked my classmate who was from the same town of my college about the railway station. His answer was not something I had expected would hear. He said “There is no train running in this root as of now. Work of converting the lane from metre gauge into broad gauge is underway!” Literally, this was the very moment I started to hate the college! I cursed my own fate for ending up in a place where even the dust of the train couldn’t be spotted! Days rolled on and I suddenly reached the second year of my UG! Now it is 19 years of wait and still the train remained a mere dream to me!

It was then that I suddenly heard this happy news for which I was longing all those years. The work has been completed and a train will start its service from this particular date and time. Mr. railway minister will flag off the train from this particular station’. What to say!? I’m still searching for a proper word to express my happiness. Literaly I didn’t sleep the whole night before the morning the train got launched. Now I can proudly say that I was the one among those first commuters who had travelled between Oddanchathram and Palani in tthe train launched after a long hiatus!

It is am usual sight in india that trains will be stopped like this in emergency situations. Image Source- ruralindiaonline

You can find the soul of a country by a train journey…

After that special occasion I became a frequent visitor of indian railways. To this date I prefer trains to any other transporatation medium whenever possible. Over these years I have met a wide range of people from various walks of lives during my train travels. A mix of culture is what makes the travel through trains unique. Peasent, Marchent, Farmer, doctor, Engineer, Man, Women, Children, Butcher, Priest, thieve, Ruckster, Gambler……. You can find all sorts of people there. You can take part in their conversations. There is almost nothing left in the universe that is not being discussed in such a premise.

By and large, the rail lanes are entrenched in far off places to avoid traffick congestion. Due to this, almost every sights the windows of a train offer are rural in nature. The life of peasents can be experienced through the gaps of the windows. A gentle breeze passing by mildly knocking your hair, far-flung paddy lands moving opposite to you and children waving their hands! What better ways other than train journeys to dwelve deeply into the soul of a nation? I would reiterate. There is none!

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