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Let the mind fly, take the train

Happy smiling woman looks out from window traveling by train on most picturesque train road in Sri Lanka

Happy smiling woman looks out from window traveling by train on most picturesque train road in Sri Lanka  

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A flight cuts travel time, but takes away the charm of travel on terra firma

One of the spin-offs of economic reforms is that the middle class has taken wing. But if flying has reduced travel time, it also has taken away the charm of travel.

Flying from Delhi to Chennai takes a little more than two hours, but a traveller misses the myriad sights of the vast, beautiful lands along the long, meandering railway track. A tiny oval window looks out into a monotony of white fluffs and blue skies, shutting the vision to a void. Travel on the tracks opens the vision to a continuum of thriving life in all its kaleidoscopic colours, sights and smells.

Flying lands people into an altogether different cultural and geographical milieu without letting them feel the diverse cultural snapshots that keep coming in regular succession, as the train trundles through bustling cities, thriving towns, humming stations, rolling hills and meadows, crooning jungles and cascading rivers.

A railway station is a microcosm of a town with its culinary delights, cultural imprints and pace of life. It is never cut off from the life of the city. An airport carries its signature in a standardised format, leaving the city outside its precincts.

The railway station has an orderly chaos, a rhythm in its cacophony and a loveable diversity in its swarm with the pleasure and pain of travel writ on faces. The airport wears an orderly look, but deprives travellers of any pain and pleasure with their faces blank.

In a railway carriage, one is at ease in one’s berth with all limbs free and the pleasure of soaking in the air at the halting stations. It makes travel as much pleasure as arriving is. On an aircraft, one is huddled and confined to a cramped seat. The limbs are motionless and the mind is thoughtless.

amarnsingh@hotmail.com

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 1:44:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/let-the-mind-fly-take-the-train/article30478993.ece

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