Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My 40 Minute Visit to Igatpuri

     I missed my train stop yesterday coming back from Nagpur, I'm still not quite sure how. I was watching out the window for hours, looking at the name of each tiny station, peering into the tiny shacks so exposed right by the rails. Two young boys were playing on the tracks, with pants too loose to stay up. They sat and I realized that one was squeezing toothpaste from a tossed tube and tasting it. The tracks are littered in every place with trash thrown out the windows. As we took off he threw it at the train and walked off play fighting with the smaller boy. I wanted so much to apologize, I don't know exactly for what. I hadn't realized we'd passed the stop, there are little signs now I can think of, but I was still watching the sun set on all of the bright green farms and huge land formations too intently to realize I should have reached before sunset. Luckily after talking with my family, I was able to get off at the next stop and it was close enough for my cousin and our driver to come get me.
     The Igatpuri station has sweet chai and green, steep hills around. Indian train stations always smell faintly of piss (or not so faintly depending where you are). There is trash strewn all over, generally a decent number of beggars and some people just waiting for the next train, sleeping wherever they can. There are lots of vendors selling chai, coffee, snacks, fried samosas that smell delicious, passed through the windows of the train and carried through the corridors. There are were also the cream-colored lizards on the walls, lots of rats popping in and out on the tracks and a dog walking along with half its leg hanging off, the flesh all mangled. And watching all of this I was glowing, the parts that might have made most people look away were still sad in a way, but everything felt very right.
     My tailbone was still bruised from a fall a few days ago and a few mosquitoes had found my ankle and I was already missing the people I stayed with in Nagpur and I was waiting alone in a strange place through only my own fault, but I was safe outside the stationmaster's office and I felt nothing but content and at peace. I don't feel like that all the time, India doesn't automatically rocket me into bliss, but being here provides me with more opportunities to get out of my usual thought patterns, and that can bring me to really good states of mind. For many people staying in familiar places feels the most comfortable and safe. I certainly love my many homes and traditions to return to, it is important to stay rooted to where I come from, but for me that feeling of safety and contentment often comes through staying in motion.

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