Travel

The Man in Seat 1A: The Rajasthani Ruckus


I had just left Jaipur on the 2.00pm Intercity Express. The rickety carriage had the wheels aching under the weight of people determined to get to Udaipur. It felt like the only train in India, and the whole of the country decided to join me on my voyage across their land.

The lady next to me had found solace resting her head on my shoulder, nodding off to the click clack motion, and the chap opposite found it necessary to comb his moustache. How he did it with such precision is beyond me, it was so long he could hide a small rabbit in there. Anyway, here I was on my way to the romantic city of Udaipur, and all I could think of was how to move my shoulder without allowing the lady’s head collapsing onto the thin armrest between us.

A few seconds later she woke up, turned to me, smiled andshuffled to the opposite side and fell asleep on the otherpassenger.That was my cue, I jumped up, grabbed my bag and headed down the carriage. Everyone’s eyes followed me, like they knew that although I was brown skinned on the outside, I wasn’t quite from around these parts. I stopped by a couple of gentlemen and asked if I could sit next to them. They said “of course, welcome” as if they were the guardians of the bench in carriage 4D. We got chatting and I got the usual questions like “where are you from?”. I replied, well “I’m from England, I’m here travelling across Rajasthan”. They looked at each other and then said to me “No no, where are you from?”. This was getting tedious. I took out a map, and pointed to England. They laughed and said “you must be from India”. I said, well if I was from India, I would have said so. Turns out, that I had to declare my lineage going back a century, which took what seemed a century to explain.

We chatted for a good hour and the larger bald headed man, Sanu was enthralled with where I had been in India already. He had travelled a speck of India in comparison to where my lucky boots had taken me. He said he would love to go to Kerala as he heard it’s like the paradise of India. “It’s beautiful there” I told him, and I told him about my travels from Trivi

to Kochi. In those few hours I realised that we don’t tend to know enough about where we are from. I had travelled around the UK as much as Sanu had seen of India, and although I love my eclectic jaunts, I promised myself to take a few simpler trips to places I’ve heard of but never had any desire to visit like the Scilly Isles or Newcastle. In a land far away from home, I realised the worth of travelling is much more than where you stay and how you get there. It’s really about people like Sanu and his mate, trundling along the countryside heading to a destination and mostly talking about things you probably won’t remember. Sanu changed my outlook on travelling, made me appreciate that you don’thave to go that far to find something awesome, and I did justthat on a road trip to Penzance and the Scilly Isles a few months later.

That said, those Geordies are still waiting for me.

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