On April 4th, I set out for a journey up North, a 4 day train journey which would take me up to Himalayas (with a brief stop in Kolatta). And now writing this I can’t say I regret a minute of the 45 hour train ride. Thankfully I had the time to do it, now if I were only here for a few weeks that may be a different story. Many fellow travelers and yoga students tried to persuade me into just hopping on a plane and getting up north in a few hours. But why skip out on such an adventure? By taking a plane I knew I would pass over so much! So I spent my time next to the train window witnessing the everyday rural life from South India, to North India, from Palm Trees to Pine Trees. What my friends had seen as boring, is completely and utterly inspiring to me.
Various colored sarees were washed and spread out on the land to dry, lined up like an earthly rainbow.
Buddhist temples sticking out atop forests, children carrying buckets of water on their heads, families bathing in ponds, herds of sheep waiting at the railroad crossing, games of cricket at 5 am, a sole farmer eating his lunch under the shade of a palm tree, Hindu temples under construction, woman riding motorbikes on the country roadside with their sarees blowing in the wind, umbrellas perched atop tea plants shading plantation workers for an afternoon nap, teenage boys carrying a load of hay 5 times the size of themselves on their bicycle and school children walking along the train tracks in matching uniforms, the girls each with braided pigtails tied in bows.
In India I have come to understand that the most incredible experiences are of something beautiful, magic, unique, or rare combined with something that is annoying, frustrating, or seemingly impossible to deal with. The scenery was fascinating enough that the combination of food/drink/bathroom/outside smells and yelling vendors didn’t bother me for the duration of my trip. At each stop vendors from the town will get on the train and until the next stop walk up and down the isles selling coffee chai and fea, samosas (vegetable filled pasteries), and other baked goods. At station stops you can reach your hand out the window to buy a warm cup of Chai; pay, drink up, and return the glass before the train departs.
The screaming voices “COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE” were just a soundtrack playing with the incredible passing by scenery and the scent of fresh vegetable curries, chai and bathroom smells remind me that yes, I am in India.