Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Journey to Bombay from Kerala

Did you see the rain? Did you see the rain?


What did you see?

The rain.

Did you see how it falls?

Yes. It falls flat. It falls with a roar. What's special about it? What's unusual.

There's a lot unusual. I say knowingly. That's global warming. The heat generates more vapour and the vapour comes down as rain. Expect more rain and the sea levels to rise in the coming years.

That's it. It has been raining continuously for the past three days. The sky looks like molten lead and the land is green. The rain is falling in a roar as we pass through some of the most scenic country in the world. Absolutely stunning. Perhaps a bit tiring, too. There's wetness in the air. The engines wail like screaming banshees and disappear into the night, the compartments disappearing across us are a long stretches of streaming light that pass by within moments. I am on my way to Bombay from Kerala and the above is the conversation between me and wifey. 

Sprawling uncultivated fields filled with weeds unfold in the afternoon mist, coconut groves emerge from bends on the fertile soil, thick with moisture and rain, the green foliage is like a thick green carpet on the ground. 

The dark sleepy guy wakes up and tells me that he makes Endosulphan, the deadly insecticide. Whatever makes him confess this I don't know. He is an M.Tech in chemical engineering and he is the engineer responsible for its production in India. Nothing has happened to me, he says showing me his hands, then, don't believe the media. He gestures and tells me that he picks up endosulphan in his hands (gestures) and nothing has happened to him. Then what's this noise all about? I ask. It's some multinational's ploy to introduce their own expensive product.

I don't know whom to believe except that we have taken enough liberties with nature. 

The train is late by 16 hours. We sit in the compartment and conversation is witty and full of punch. My co-passengers are young people bound for the Persian Gulf. There's water all around but no water in the toilet. The passengers without reservation had exhausted that precious resource the previous day. A human tendency to be corrupt is obvious. For most part inside Kerala the compartment is filled with people who don't have a reservation. There are eleven people in the coupe instead of only eight. I feel a bit angry, but then I adjust, as I must. Just returning from a house warming, says an ex-serviceman who worked in the Air Force in Punjab and Assam. He is well turned out stands erect and doesn't slouch. He has seen enough cruelty in his life and is now retired and working in the district collector's office in Kannoor. Death, torture, encounters, he has seen them all. I wonder what interesting people you meet on a journey.

There are two western tourists in the compartment. Big, smooth-faced, backpack-carrying youth and his girlfriend who fill the compartment with their size. They look majestic. There is a religious group of friends who offer prayers by turns on the window seats joined together. They pray morning, afternoon and night.

We hear the train is diverted from Madgaon towards Belgaum, Bellary, Kolhapur and Pune to Panvel, where I live. I didn't know Pune and Panvel are connected. Around Belgaum is a picturesque station called Castle Rock, the English sound making it rather exotic and near it rises the majestic waterfall of the Dudh Sagar (Sea of Milk). I stare at it's majesty atop a hill as our train courses its tortuous path below. Three or four streams converge below into a rather swollen stream below. Water, the vital primitive forces roar and gush below, disintegrating into white foam.

The best traveller is someone who enjoys the scenery on a detour. Read it somewhere, don't know exactly where. I was amazed by the beauty I passed that day. Dams, rivers in spate, waterfalls, amazing green fields, coconut and arecanut groves they passed by in the most serendipitous manner. They linger in the mind and will remain there for a long time.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here.


John P Matthew said...

Comments welcome!

John P Matthew said...

My experience as I travelled to Bombay through rain-sodden, leaking train compartment from Kerala.