Spiti Travelogue: Day 1

Wheels in Motion: We begin our jour­ney from Pune

With all our heavy back-packs, we board­ed the Goa-Niza­m­mudin Express train from Pune sta­tion at 4:30 AM in the morn­ing, bound for Del­hi. The group gen­er­al­ly engaged in small talk get­ting com­fort­able with each oth­er. The first night in the AC-2 com­part­ment was too cold for me and I could not catch any sleep in the few hours of the ear­ly morn­ing.

The whole of the next day, we sur­vived the Rail­way meals by sup­ple­ment­ing them with Amer­i­can pis­tas, Vidisha’s home­made besan-ke-lad­dus, and the tra­di­tion­al Maha­rash­tri­an chi­w­da. The kids thrived on cream cook­ies and Pep­si.
Trav­el­ing in the AC com­part­ment though com­fort­able in many respects, steals the joys of long-dis­tance rail­way trav­el. With open win­dows, you are inti­mate­ly involved with the weath­er changes as you cross time and space. The jour­ney is real and live. As a kid, I was for­tu­nate to enjoy long train jour­neys, sit­ting at the win­dow with a con­stant wind across my face that brought the out­side world inside.

In con­trast, the AC com­part­ment acts like a vir­tu­al cab­in trans­port­ing you in iso­la­tion from your sur­round­ings. For a trip to the Himalayas how­ev­er, this was a nec­es­sary price to pay, since the AC keeps you refreshed and does not tire you. Nev­er­the­less, I stole many oppor­tu­ni­ties to walk out of the AC sec­tion, open the com­part­ment door, and lose myself in the land­scape, reviv­ing my child­hood mem­o­ries of long-dis­tance train trav­el.

We had brought ample decks of cards, and most of the day passed in learn­ing and play­ing Bridge. There were Bridge vet­er­ans among us and we learned from their wis­dom. I was not an avid card play­er how­ev­er, and stole time to read the Himachal Pradesh tourist guide that our friends had got along with us. For the first time, I got a sense of where we were going and what we would encounter.

Next: Day 2

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