This personal essay by Suparna Goswami talks about what trains or train rides have meant to her having grown-up in India, and then living in various countries that provide many forms of railroad as means of modern transportation.
Here in Chapel Hill, we drive over the train tracks that are less than a mile away from our house, I cross them during my daily walks and walk along with them or over them when the mood strikes. Encountering these tracks on a daily basis has now become a routine. Every now and then, I even hear the not too faraway horn of a train passing by. However, the spotting of the actual train has mostly evaded us. Often, as I sat on my desk working, I tried to find a pattern, a regular schedule to the horns that I heard – was it on a specific day of the week, a specific time when the train crossed our neck of the woods? However, even after a few months of taking mental notes of the sporadic honking – a pattern failed to emerge. Trains are a rarity in this vast country. I sometimes listen with amazement when I hear a firmly middle-aged person casually mention that they have never been on a train, or when a proudly announced regular train service actually refers to a train a day from one destination to another destination. People drive or they fly to get somewhere, near or far.