Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Line Less Travelled

Nothing works wonders for your frame of mind as the sight and sound of a train passing by. From a very yeng yaze, we have been fascinated by trains and locomotives. We never misses a chance to gets on a train, my precious. So 'ere be a list of some of our more memorable train journeys.
  • Visakhapatnam-Trichur: Those good 'ol summer holidays. Mangos, guavas, the posh 'cushion' seats of Coromandel Express (which is so famous, it lends its name to a small Parisian publishing house) until Vijayawada, and the wooden slats of the Jayanthi Janatha after that. The names of Tamil Nadu stations rolling off the tongue (Arakkonam-Katpadi-Jolarpettai-Salem...), and the stations themselves rolling past the windows. The headlong rush into the Palghat Gap, and then God's Own Country. Actually, it is Marx's Own Country, but Marx is God, so that's OK.
  • Visakhapatnam-Araku: On the Kirandul-Kottavalasa line. Wonderful views, tunnels, people from the hills loading produce on the way to the market, clouds, waterfalls. The works.
  • Mettupalayam-Ooty: On the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. One of the last outposts of steam traction in India. Very touristy, but nevertheless thrilling.
  • Kalka-Shimla: Another mountain railway, the northern cousin of the Nilgiri line. No steam on this line (not regularly, anyway), but the climb from the plains to the Himalayas over a long afternoon makes up for that. Again touristy, unforgettable.
Farther afield, we have:
  • Philadelpha-San Francisco: Amtrak. 4 days and 3 nights in a chair car, but what a trip. If it only had been more leisurely...
  • Zurich-Rheinfall-Grenchen-Geneva-Bern-Zurich: Switzerland. Pretty as a postcard, inhumanly punctual and efficient.
  • London-Abergavenny: Welsh excursion, on British Rail. "Watson, my Bradshaw's tells me that if we hurry, we can find seats on the 10:18 from Waterloo" etc.
  • Edinburgh-Fort William: Single malt, bagpipes, and moors outside, beautiful, beautiful country. The occasional antediluvian saurian raises rears out of a passing loch and gives us a gander...
  • Glasgow-London: On the GNER. Passes through the Lake District. Skimbleshanks country?
  • Tokyo-Kamakura-Tokyo: Japan Rail. Our motto: "We give those Swiss a run for their monies". Inhuman efficiency, on the other side of the world.
  • Kyoto-Tokyo: On the unbelievably fast, comfortable, quiet Tokaido Shinkansen
  • Aguas Calientes-Ollyantaytambo: After 4 grimy dirty days on the Inca Trail to Machhu Pichhu, this little train ride in the Andes was blissful. The feet got to rest, the throats and stomachs got to eat, the eyes got to ogle, and so on.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me appropriately of From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson - "Each a glimpse and gone forever". -- Y!

Ludwig said...

Yes, that's a nice one. I think some time later, we should do a list of railway poems, "From A Railway Carriage" and "Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat" will have to feature. There's one by Seamus Heaney (I think) about the telegraph lines that run next to railway tracks which is also a shoo-in. Anything else, I wonder...

Anonymous said...

Agree with you about the list. Remember seeing a site sometime back about railways in arts. Can't recall immediately though, but it will come back surely.

Went through the entire blog - a kaleidoscope of thoughts. No words, though. Besides, the weather outside beckons me. :)

A last word however: Have you ever considered writing as an alternate career choice? You would do great, I am sure.
-- Y!