Photography Challenge: Developing Your Eye
Day Five: Prompt-Connect
The Indian Railways is perhaps the largest transportation network that connects the remotest parts of the country into one coherent web of millions of people traversing through its length and breadth every day. Any compartment of an Indian train is a cacophony of multiple smells, colours and noises that come together in unprecedented harmony. You see a teen travelling to his hometown with a guitar on his shoulder, a boisterous family with the matriarch handing down plates of steaming parathas, a kid who cannot stay still, vendors with colourful wares and the odd middle-aged man ready to dish out life lessons to anybody who is willing to listen.
There is something about the railway stations too. Despite the similarity of the fonts that is painted on the signs announcing their names and the similar construction standards that they follow, every time you look out of the train window at a station, something unique will undoubtedly be present to greet you. It might be the smell of hot onion kachoris, the visual treat of a flowering shrub in bloom, an odd watch reminiscent of colonial times or even a quaint old station master office.
A couple of months back, I was travelling from Mumbai to Goa via the Konkan Railway. Built by forging serpentine tracks through numerous tunnels in the Western Ghats, the Konkan Railway is one of the most scenic travel routes in this part of the country. Lush green hills, waterfalls and chirping brooks wait to greet you at every bend. Thus, staring out of the window was my favourite part of the entire journey. And as I was looking out, I came across this beautiful station by the tracks. With its vibrant red cotton soil, abundant foliage tumbling down in abandon and a solitary track that seemed to invite guests away into a different world where time stands still, the station seemed to have been pulled right out of a Ruskin Bond novel of my childhood.
The train moved on and we reached Goa in a couple of hours for a weekend of indulgence. On the return journey, I could not spot this station anymore. Perhaps the train had taken a different route, perhaps it had been too dark outside, perhaps such connecting stations call out to its guests only once ever.