I love traveling. I love the idea of traveling. I like making elaborate plans and poring over every possible website or book I can lay my hands on to virtually and vicariously be at that precise moment wherever it is that I want to go to. I am pretty sure I drive my partner insane with the fussing and obsessive twitching and frequent arguments about where to stay and what to do and what to do after that. And after that. I love journeys as much as the destination.
I love train stations. I have mostly traveled from Howrah station. As a kid I used to hate them and how dirty they were and lined with urchins and shady looking men. Hated the smell, the garbage, the cry of hawkers. Hated being tagged along on family vacations to Puri or Delhi or Rajasthan or wherever. The station has not changed much. Fellow travelers have. Perceptions have. I have grown to love train journeys. All the stations the train stops in. All of them have so many stories to tell, stories to conceal, stories you get to live for whatever time the train stops at the station. The arrivals, the departures, the porters precariously carrying a ridiculous number of suitcases and now, fancier luggage, on their heads. And the arguments that follow about how much they should charge. Most people are of the opinion that they are being duped of their hard earned money, right? Right.
I love the energy, the smell of hot, spicy, sweet tea brewing in the little tea stalls, the maatir bhaar in which they are served. (I don’t like plastic cups) The friendly dogs that demand to be fed biscuits. I like browsing through the book stalls and buying random magazines and books. As a kid, I would usually buy Chacha Chowdhury, now I buy novels that I don’t remember the names of. The last one I bought was probably Veronica Decides to Die. I like the big, ominous clock on the platform in Howrah station. Countless arrivals. Even more departures. People love leaving the city more these days and migrate to whatever qualifies as a bigger, better, more prosperous utopia.