Pungent, dark and humid.
Its wafting through the crevices, penetrating through walls.
Like steel boots on concrete.
I close my eyes and shut it out.
26 March 2018
16 October 2017
However, there are a minuscule number of stations that boast of a name that means something strange or hilarious or even commonplace but definitely sounds strange as the name of a railway station. Take "Methai" (station code MEE) on the East Central Railways in North Bihar. This truly tiny station's name means "Sweets" in Hindi. How it got its name and why? It is a matter of pure speculation. Perhaps it had an ancient Buddhist "Math" (Monastery) and the name got corrupted from Math to Methai. In Northern Railway, there is station by the name of "Tanda Urmar" (station code: TDO). I don't know what it means, but it certainly scores points for rhyming! Mumbai, of course, boasts of a busy suburban station called "Andheri" (station code ADH) literally meaning "Dark". But the station is so busy and is populated by so many people in so much hurry, that perhaps they do not have the time to marvel at the inconsistencies on the meaning of the name of the railway station they are alighting at!
What takes the cake is a small station on the North Eastern Frontier Railway: Raja Bhat Khawa (station code: RVK). It means the place where the Kings ate Rice! The station is a smallish affair with two platforms. It lies deep in the elephant country of Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. The station was on the metre gauge track connecting Siliguri in West Bengal with Rangiya in Assam. Subsequently, it has been converted into broad gauge. As a child, I had traveled on this line many a times and marveled at the curious name. I often wondered, why was the rice so special that the king had to come all the way, to this middle of nowhere, to eat it. In the 80s, the jungles were very dense and the train movements were often interrupted due to elephant activity. In the jungle, it became quite dark even during the day time due to the dense foliage. For many years, my mental image of a jungle, was the dense poorly lit train travel near this curiously named station of Raja Bhat Khawa. Later, I read about the history of Koch kings and of their internecine warfare with the Bhutanese. On one of the occasions, for making peace, a neutral venue was decided, in the middle of the dense jungle. The Koch king and the Bhutanese made peace and apparently, the mode of burying the hatchet, was eating rice together, hence, Raja Bhat Khawa came to be! Today, it is a place, remote and practically in the middle of nowhere, but it is not without character. It is the entry point to the formidable Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary and the mighty Tripadvisor, has a page on the place. Such is the fate of places that help make peace!
24 September 2017
Rhetorical memes on myriad whatsapp groups
Stolid conversations and automaton like relentless forwards
Filtered snaps and narcissistic stories on Instagram
Making it all look better than the original
Insinuations, parochialism, sunrise pics and flowers providing stale motivation
Gods and their mantras for instant gratification
Make up my breakfast with hashtags on a sunday morning!
21 September 2017
Marvel of modern science
Traveller of the final frontier
Seven years to reach the destination
Of the gas giant Saturn!
Slingshotting Venus and Jupiter
To gain velocity hither
Masursky, Enceledus and Titan on the way
Discovering what lies underneath and array
Twenty two times with much rigour
through the rings and into the plumes of vapour
Plunging finally into depths unknown
To prevent contamination of the watery moons!
03 September 2017
I pine for thy attitude!
Cawing away in the morning, heedless!
Raiding the fisherwoman's basket, fearless!
Holding court over peers' unknown misdeeds!
Rearing young of own and Eudynamys, undismayed!
O creature of unyielding courage and curiosity!
I pine for thy attitude!!!
Crows are courageos
Crows are curious
Crows are full of maternal love
Crows are for justice
Crows never forgive
Crows never forget
Crows care two hoots for anyone
Crows are everywhere
Crows are succesful
Crows are survivors
O God! Make me like the Crow!
04 July 2017
With the coming of standard shipping containers in mid 90s, the hey days of the Box Wagons were over and these days one sees only Shipping Containers. Initially they seemed interesting, colorful in comparison to the drab red box wagons. The name of the shipping line, say Maersk, inscribed in an exotic font over them. But soon, one got used to the shape and then it was like a paradign of monotony. The numbers and letters inscribed on them were too complicated to make sense of and make games to play with. Last year while doing a rare train journey of 2 days, as I was looking out of the window, I couldnt see a single red box wagon, only containers were spotted. It was then I realised that I had grown fond of the boring red goods train box wagons!
02 July 2017
A decade and a half passed. In the interim, governments came and went. Apparently someone fished out that priority list and found that nearly the rest of the country was broad guage. So, perhaps it was time for Saharsa too and one limb of the branch line, the one from Mansi got BGed. This made it possible to have a direct train from Patna, Delhi and Calcutta to Saharsa. But I never managed to have the privilege of traveling by those trains. After 14 years, I landed at Patna airport. The last direct train to Saharsa had gone. I thought of taking a trip down memory lane by taking a train to Mansi, reaching there at 2AM and trying my luck just like the good old days. Something in my head told me it was inconvenient, foolhardy and dangerous. I looked askance at my smart phone which told me, wonder of wonders, an Ola Outstation is available at the princely sum of ₹5000. I sighed and chose to take a bus, cost me ₹250 for a full sleeping berth. In six hours flat I was staring at the slush filled cesspool that was allegedly the Bus Stand. I tip toed out of the bus, careful to avoid the worst of the slush holding my strolley bag above my head, to the nearest rickshaw-wala, who seemed to derive an evil pleasure at my plight. The world might metamorphose but the home will still stay the same!