I stepped into the train and hustled around, navigating my way to reach and occupy my seat. After confirming the seat number, I placed my hand baggage under the seat and sat down with a great sigh of relief. I was glad to have learned that this compartment was not cancelled.
Due to technical reasons a couple of wagons had been cancelled catching the passengers off guard and triggering panic, anger, and confusion amongst them.
Just as my nerves were beginning to calm down, I noticed an aged man being assisted by the ticket collector walking into the cabin. The ticket collector placed the old man's baggage under the seat and hurriedly left, leaving the old man to settle down by himself.
After a couple of awkward silent moments, I smiled at the old man and offered him some water to drink. Without taking time he gulped the water down. I clearly could see that he was very thirsty due to the sweltering heat conditions.
The hooting of the train signalled the commencement of our journey. The compartment seats were blue in colour. There was a large window and a table attached just below the window. Within no time the train steadily began to pick its momentum taking us to our respective destinations.
As my phone beeped, I quickly checked to see the notifications on it. I noticed a number of missed calls and several messages inquiring about my welfare. I immediately began answering the messages but sadly realised that there wasn't any connection due to no network services. This made me feel angry and anxious. Feeling irritable and disappointed, I put my phone down on the table and watched the scenery from the window.
"What's your name?" the old man asked.
" Disha" I answered and without taking time he quickly answered, " you can call me Rahul".
Rahul seemed to be in his late seventies, he was very aware about his surroundings. His face hardly had any wrinkles, he had salt pepper hair, was tall and lean and carried himself very well.
"Just like me were you caught unaware of the wagon being cancelled?" he asked.
I replied "no I was lucky enough not to have faced any cancellation".
I looked back at my phone hoping to see the network bars. Yet again I was disappointed and put my phone away. Rahul could clearly read my face and immediately said "being frustrated won't help bring the network back, the network will connect after an hour as the signal is very weak in this region". I asked him how he was so certain about it, and he said that he is a frequent traveller, so he is pretty much aware about it.
Just then we were interrupted by an attendant who quickly came to ask our meal preferences. I politely declined because I had carried a sandwich for the journey as my relatives had scared me enough not to eat anything from the train as it would end up upsetting my stomach. Whereas Rahul immediately placed an order of two plates and the attendant immediately left.
Just then he said "Disha, take a look outside, you cannot afford to miss this brilliant view".
I looked outside the window and was mesmerised by seeing the beautiful valley with lush green grass. There were so many different shades of green on the escarpment. The sun dazzled just above the horizon. I felt a sense of calmness and wished at that moment that time could stand still.
I began to feel hungry as I could smell the various types of preparations being cooked in the kitchen area of the train. I picked up my bag and removed the sandwich that I had carried along. As I opened the tin, I offered to share my cucumber sandwich with mint chutney to Rahul. He smiled and helped himself. After taking a bite he said "Disha, this sandwich is very delicious and very refreshing, thank you". I was pleased to learn that he enjoyed it.
As I ate my sandwich, I carried on enjoying the view. Just then the attendant brought two trays of food which were tightly sealed with foil paper. As the attendant placed both the plates in front of Rahul, he asked the attendant to give the other plate to me. I looked at him in surprise and he gestured, "It's ok please give it a try. It will not be disappointing I assure you".
Once the attendant left, I reluctantly broke open the seal on the foil and was blown away with the aromas of the food, my mouth began to salivate and within no time I found myself digging into the food placed in front of me on the tray. The tray consisted of lentils, rice, mixed vegetable, two pieces of naan, yoghurt, and mixed salad. Within minutes of being served the food, my plate had no traces of any remains of the food. It was indeed a delightful meal. I thanked Rahul for the food.
"Disha, I hardly know you, but I would like to share some wisdom with you", he said. I paid attention and listened to him very carefully. He then began to say "never resist change, but instead go with the flow. The resistance only causes more chaos. And enjoy every moment. Remember to take a pause.” He further added “if your phone had a network, you'd have missed all these beautiful views. Learn to be adventurous because it is in these adventures that you will encounter new experiences and surprises.” Having said this an announcement to his destination was made and within minutes he alighted from the train.
As I sat by myself, I pondered over his words and deeply felt that I needed to hear this as whatever he said made a lot of sense to me. It made me wonder about how many people rush on with life and never pause to enjoy the little things life has to offer, or why do people live in an anxious state of mind at all times and lastly why are we always subjected to what the fickle minded society has to say.
Steve Jobs once quoted that " Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by Dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking".
My trip was serendipity driven. I wouldn't have been able to learn all that I did if Mr Rahul's compartment wouldn't have been cancelled and for this I shall forever be grateful.
By Disha Sharma