The Train

August 25, 2011

“A tourist does not know where he has been, a traveler does not know where he is going.”

Today is the second day of my train trip. My lovely friends Rathi and Bini (the inseperable BFFs) went with me to the train station yesterday morning, sending me off.

After being filled with warnings and stories of unclean bathrooms and greasy food vendors, I was expecting the worst. But its actually quite nice here. I am sharing my cabin with a very nice family and a girl who is in her last year at the ashram school. Her name is Piyu and we chatter away in French about everything (ashram students usually speak about 5-10 languages, and everyone knows French). She’s in her last year at the ashram school, and is also going to the Delhi Sri Aurobindo Ashram for a doctor visit. Our cabin has passed the time watching movies, sharing food and playing with the family’s six-year-old daughter. I am very happy here, knowing that the journey is part and parcel to the arrival. Tomorrow we arrive in Delhi (pronounced dul-LEE by the natives) at 4 am. Then I will take a quick rest before the workshop starts at 9 am.

 

Delhi, ho!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

– St. Augustine

I have been hatching a plot to go to Delhi for a creative writing workshop. Society staff member Harvinder, who used to be an IB school principal before coming to the society, will give the workshop. Now she writes curriculum that incorporates integral education for mainstream schools. Really cool stuff. Harvinder is a fiery, no nonsense poet, teacher and English major herself. The workshop is three days long, and I’ll be staying at the Sri Aurobindo ashram there. Delhi is the society’s Center for Media and Communication Arts, so I’ll be interested in what’s going on there.

After the workshop I’ll be staying with Maneesh’s aunt Arti near Delhi University for a few days. The Taj Mahal is only a day trip away!

I am taking the train almost the whole way. It takes two days to get to Delhi on the train, so I’m leaving on Wednesday. Taking the train is a trip in itself, and I’ll get about 5 whole days of train travel to read, write, and stare wide-eyed out my window.

My last stop will be in the far north, in the Punjab region, in the city of Amritsar. I’m very interested to see the differences between the north and south India, in food, dress, climate, everything. India is so diverse and varied; I love it.  Amritsar is famous for the beautiful Sikh Golden Temple, built on the water. I’m staying with my good friend Shabd’s friend, who is now a teacher at the school they both attended together.

I found this map online. I’m going north, north, north, then coming back on the same track. You can see how how far New Delhi is from Pondi, about 3/4 of the length of the country. Amritsar is on the northwest border, printed very small.

I will be back to Pondi in about two weeks. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to post, but I will definitely write about all of my adventures. I will likely find internet every few days then post a lot at one time.