Diary, December 20, 2016.
Those Red Brick Hutments
On a train ride to Roorkee from Delhi, the train reaches Roorkee later in the evening.
The train stops there for a minute or so. You have to bring your luggage close to the door so that you can get down with your entire luggage in a timely manner.
I usually stand at the train door 20-30 minutes before the station arrives. I sometimes open the door of the train. The strong shaft of air hugging the train in the evening is very refreshing. In fact, it is quite exhilarating.
Especially, in a cold December evening in North India. The sunset had begun an hour ago. The cold wind slaps you.
Inside the train, there is a cacophony of YouTube on phones, tablets, and laptops. Some of them are watching Bollywood movies, Hollywood movies, Sunny Leone channel, smut, and even a clip from the Rocky movie signature tune. Then, there are also vendors walking down the aisles of the entire train screaming “Chai”, “Ice Cream”…
Outside, amidst the sugarcane farms, dry husk from sugarcane is often burned. The fire gives bright red outlines seen in the sunset dark from the speeding train. Strangely, the red flickering gives a feeling of warmth and solace this winter from a distant place, we are moving away from. Warmth and solace from all this noise inside.
Occasionally, you see solitary red brick hutments in those fields. There is always a single light inside in each of them. Is someone watching the YouTube there too?
On the top left on the billboard is Katrina Kaif (a glamorous Bollywood actress), and on right at billboards at the electric pole is Mayawati (a very populist yet quite rustic politician from North India). Very different public personas but sharing common space in a neighborhood in Roorkee, North India.
Yesterday, I was on train from Delhi to Roorkee. Roorkee is a campus town in northern India, and is my hometown.
Next to me on the train was a retired military officer sitting, now a consultant.
He asked, "Why are you here in India this week? You should have been in US, where there is a historic moment being created."
I smiled, "I will be glued to TV next few days - watching Obama's inauguration on CNN, and BBC".