Sunday, December 10, 2006

Trains: Journeys Of The Heart

There is something about travel by rail that spurs on romantic imagination. The leisurely pace, the panoramic view, the relative comforts compared to other forms of travel; or, perhaps it offers a sense of kinship with the land, a sentiment of fleeting intimacy that evokes a reminder of the fragility of human ties.

For these or any number of other reasons trains re-occur as a theme of romance in many forms across different lands and cultures.

Tom Waits Downtown Train is a raw expression of unrequited dreams, beautiful in spite of its unpolished tones, and made more so by the urgency and ultimate hoplessness of its narrator's ambition.

In India trains have been instrumental in giving rise to a sense of national
consciousness, helping in transforming a divergent subcontinent at their inception in 1857 into the vast, yet interconnected and rapidly advancing modern nation seen today .

Presently the railways are said to transport the staggering figure of five billion people a year across 27 states and three territories.

Like no other place in the world travel by train in India introduces the traveller to moveable communities; strangers becoming friends,if for a while, sharing meals and experiences until it is time for them to move on again.

Trains provide lifelines; in Mumbai workers from hinterlands flood into the city everyday for the income it assures. Without the railways this would be an impossible prospect with housing priced within the city beyond any limited means .

As was witnessed earlier this year trains in india also bring death and destruction, targets of terrorist plots and random accidents brought on by both disrepair and accidents of cruel fate.

Fittingly Euphoria capture something of the atmosphere of train travel tinged with the inevitable heartbreak that the metaphor seems to so often reach toward with Maaeri

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