Saturday, November 2, 2013

Traveling Second Class

Traveling in a second class compartment of Indian railways has it's own typical charm. I got this opportunity by missing out on the other one. A two day small trip from Mumbai had suddenly got extended to a full week working at the factory at Nashik. And I was not prepared. I believe vagabonds are usually not prepared. Though I had my bare essentials for survival, I had to shop in for some more essentials. Not being able to get an AC chair car ticket, I got this second class sitting compartment ticket. 

And here I was waiting in the platform number 3 for my Tapovan Express to arrive at 6 pm. The platform was otherwise not very crowded till then. A few people walking and gossiping. A few trains passing by and out of which most of them brought in localities home for Diwali vacations. One passed without stopping by. I could smell the local dish vada-pao from a nearby railway catering stall. I picked up a samosa. And packed a few biscuits for journey. 

About 5 minutes before 6 pm after the "Ting Tong announcement" made by the railway staff about the arrival of the train, the platform was swarmed in by herd of people. The train arrived in another ten minutes. And people again proved that we were all so Indian. Irrespective of being educated or illiterate, the bunch of all ages of men, women, kids and oldies, all of them clogged the entrance / exit of the compartment gate. But suddenly they realised their  folly and humbly allowed the people inside to disembark. I strongly felt a need to write to the Oxford Dictionary people to remove the beautiful word QUEUE from all the copies sold in India. It doesn't matter either ways. 

I found myself lost in the busy and almost crowded compartment after I got in. The numbers on the seat plate were almost all erased by the passage of time. I managed to find my seat number 19 which was by the window side. Ah. I was happy. And there was a shabby looking man in 30's with a weirded gaze in his hollow eyes and wearing clothes dirty enough that made me assume that he should not belong here. I signed him to move aside. And he dared to reply "aapka reservation hai Kya?" And I nodded with a supportive voice "Haan ji". He moved aside slightly reluctantly. I kept my backpack on the overhead iron shelf.  Then comforted myself in the so called my reserved seat. Except for the gentleman who sat in front of me, rest all seemed to be a misfit for the reservation compartment. The seats with their typical blue PVC cover was a trademark of Indian Railways. The fabric had torn off at many places exposing the underlying white yarns and frills. They were now grey with dirt and stains. The side wall suggested that a person whose name initials were D.K was a past traveller on the same seat. He had happily left his eternal presence using some sharp objects as his paint brush. Even animals do leave their mark. He proved to be a closer relative. 

Now I was looking out of the window. Horizontal running grills reminded me of that freedom of childhood. Sitting by window in a second class railway compartment was a luxury undefined. It opened that panoramic view of world that otherwise was not available sitting in the aisle side. I was a child again and went back a decade or two in history when father used to take us  for long family tours. The sun had already set rendering the evening sky in beautiful shades of red and  purple. My hands reached for my phone camera and I had taken a few shots by now from the moving train. My eyes had captured that trail if lights going up the mountains at distance, but my camera failed to do so. It didn't matter as long as the feeling of capturing the dusk from train window gave me that little happiness long forgotten. I will share the photo but this one is nowhere close to any of my decent photos. 

My thought were broken by a strong and typical voice that pierced in through the crowded gossiping compartment. "Chai -  chaaai" "caafeeee chaaaaaiya". The pantry guy with his tea and coffee was here.   Hot coffee in left hand and cold breeze brushing at more than 80 kmph in right hand. My hair were not combed for almost a week. Now they were all in natural backstroked manner, thickened by the smoke of the howling Diesel engine. The colours were all natural looking unlike viewed from behind the tinted glass of the air conditioned coach. By closed eyes I could tell when I passed by a rivulet now converted to a stinky nala. 

The few hours of travel had passed by smoothly. I had left behind hills of Iggatpuri and Kasara Ghats. The chill in air had transformed into warm gusts of smoky dusty wind. The sense of approaching a metropolitan city was strengthening. Small mud huts to pukka huts to small storey houses to multi floor houses. Then big buildings, some brighter street lights, multi storey skyscrapers, neon lights, billboards and bigger billboards with larger than life celebrities popping out showcasing a million dollar close up smiles. It was very obvious that we had entered the peripheral of Mumbai. People were talking in their local village dialect till now. Suddenly they stared speaking the steely Hindi typical to Mumbai slum dwellers and so called mawali type Hindi. It was rough and respect less. I never realized that we were about to reach Dadar. Time to go. 

- Just Vagabond
Travel Diaries. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Red Tram, Hong Kong

I was walking down from the very famous Victoria Peak tram terminal station, and moving towards a metro station to board train to Tsim Tsa Tui. While on a crossing I came across this very beautiful tram. I was traveling back in time. It was another moment of WOW for me. How beautifully history has been preserved in this super-fast city. So meticulously and neatly kept marvel of engineering and art, The Tram. I had shot this picture in full colours but later decided to show it as this with only highlighted Red colour.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Bund

The Bund,

I happened to be on a business trip last week, to a small industrial town called Pinghu, south of Shanghai, People's Republic of China. My colleagues planned an unexpected visit to the famous Shanghai city. I was more than happy to be a part of the game. Since they were flying off from Pudong International Airport the next day, I had to manage my own return to Pinghu. That too was sorted out quickly. We left in a cab to Shanghai from Pinghu by 3 in evening, and were in the city by around 5:30 pm. Quickly checking into a hotel we found our way to a very well known place called Xin Tian Di. This happens to be the 'firang' crowd place in Shanghai. I will write more about it later. From here, after dinner we left for The Bund. Trust me, we had to ask more than 10 people on our way to The Bund, which was hardly 15 minutes away from Xin Tian Di.
However we managed to find a taxi after our legs gave up. It was quite far than we expected.

As the taxi dropped us to a famous Flower wall by The Bund, we saw a big statue of a bull made in the Solid Brass ( I guess ).  Obviously we posed there for some candid shots. Thereafter we all headed to the river front "The Bund". And WOW was the word that I exhaled out of my lungs. The view was stunning, one of the pre-set poster view of city with the same silouhette of the skyline of Shanghai.

Experiencing the cool breeze by the H├╝angpu river, I allowed myself to absorb the stunning views. I allowed the time to pass by as slow as if it was still. The river flowed smoothly, and lights shimmered. In distant right, I could see "I Love Shanghai" flashing onto a multi0storey giant building. Some cruise boats sailed onto the river giving those romantic moments a spice of love. I fell in love with Shanghai.

Monday, April 8, 2013

VIP Navigator Series luggage - the all new Printed PC collection

Now this is something special.
An all funky stylish luggage, the NAVIGATOR series for the Vagabonds.
VIP Industries Limited launches the NAVIGATOR series of products. Includes printed PC luggages, Laptop Sleeves, Laptop cases, Camera bag and more. Now unleash the traveller within you. Get Vagabonding with stylish 4 wheel bags. Available at all VIP outlet across country.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wassup Andheri 2013

The Andheri festival - Wassup Andheri 2013 was back with bang. With loads of performances and shows, the young and upcoming talents showed mumbai that they had it in them. I was there to capture the dance performances performed by Aditi Yadav's  VED INSTITUTE OF PERFORMING ARTS. Led by Aditi Yadav and co-assisted by lead performers Sanghamitra Mukherjee, Neha Sharaf, Meenakshi Varma Shah, Kanupriya and Deepti Yamini Sharma, the classical dance show was a show stealer. The Kathhak Marathon engaged the ghungroos and the bells chimed along with the thudd of the feet. At every taal and tabla beat the acoustics grew bigger and Louder and the syncronised hands feet and expressions added to the drama and action.

Wassup Andheri has given a good platform to the young and new talents. Earlier in the evening the show was anchored by actor Varun Dhawan, who co-starred in recent movie 'Student of the year'.
The evening also saw some of the standup comedians who tried their best to break laughters. it was a good effort though, not the best one.

The festival also showcased many artists of canvas and installations.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Kala Ghoda - The Mumbai Art Festival

The return of the Bull, the year of the snake, the advent of the Spring, and the passing of the Silent Winter, was marked by the recently organized Kala Ghoda Art festival in the heart of the  city of  Mumbai. The art festival, pulled in more than the usual number of crowd on its closing day, 11th February. It was Sunday and I managed to steal a couple of hours from my tight schedule. Year after year the art festival of Kala Ghoda is organised in the Island City in the Fort area.

Apart from many other themes for the Kala Ghoda art festival, the skull art took the centre stage. Other national issues like the recently 'in news' rape cases and 'women safety' also shared an equal importance in the festival. Human emotions were depicted in various arts.

This photo was shot from behind of the child who was wearing this small helmet with two horns and a skull print in back. She was sitting on a mock Black bull while others happily photographed her from front. I Found this angle interesting to capture the scene from behind the scene. the plethora of people, the sea of camera clicking hands and the lights gave me a decent pick.

I will await the return of the Kala Ghoda next year.

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