While travelling on trains, what fascinates me most are the myriad types of people one ends up meeting. It is extremely interesting to hear their conversations, share food, watch the games being played – literal and otherwise. At an airport, it is great fun watching people waiting and then moving on. I never end up reading the book I am carrying. There are so many short stories all around me.
While travelling on the road, we are in a capsule, where human interaction with strangers does not happen. The moving car, though, is like a movie screen. The vehicles are the characters of this viewing platform. The fun part is that is a DIY kind of story. You are at liberty to decide the plot, the beginning and the end.
The most important parts are taken up by the trucks. However, there are many types and sub types to these. There are the really large ones which are never ending and you can sometimes mistake them for mini trains. These guys are very careful and follow the slow, straight path. They are veterans and completely ignore the young whippersnappers. The crime thriller angle can be fulfilled by those trucks that suddenly enter through bylanes after illegal sand mining. You can still see the water dripping from the vehicles. There is the high risk factor when you are behind oil tankers and gas cylinder filled trucks.
Of course, there is contentment when you see trucks full of potatoes, I smiled when I saw the truck packed with bananas. Sometimes there are some unusual things such as a truck full of steel almirahs or one that has only trackpants. Some have colourful tassles flying in the wind singing songs full of mirth and dancing a little jig. The fully covered trucks which do not allow me to peep in make me oh, so curious!
To my dismay, I see that many of these truck drivers are much too young lads of less then 18. They have very little experience and even less patience. Maybe that is the reason for many an overturned truck. The police ask for their protection money hassling and delaying every truck that passes by. As my husband wakes up truck drivers who have simply fallen asleep causing a huge traffic pile-up, I wonder when we will wake up to a less greedy world.
I love watching cyclists, specially two girls as they chat and giggle and take control of their lives, dependent on no one. In India, a couple is never two, it is always three, sometimes even four. The motor cyclists prove this as they always carry at least three people. I once saw two autorickshaws running parallel to each other while a passenger switched from one to the other. This was on a highway. No, I am not making up this circus entertainment!
Tractors that are overladen with hay or bundles of jute are the epitome of the simplicity of rural life as they slowly amble on into the sunset. The smaller private cars that are with us for shorter durations with bobbing dolls savour the slow pace of life. In complete contrast, you then come across the demon bus drivers. Before sitting on these buses, one must make sure their Life Insurance papers are in order. They are fearless, and I think, gearless!
What really amazes me is that there is no race to reach the finishing line. Maybe it is because we all have different finishing lines and no one knows where it is. Does anyone ever really know the answers to the questions – “Where to? Where from?” The only journey that matters is the one that takes you deeper and deeper into yourself. I am reminded yet again to drink deeply into my cup of Dorje Teas.
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