Friday, May 20, 2011


Prashant & I aboard the Darjeeling Local, 2009 

A friend of mine lives very close to a railway crossing in Mumbai. Local trains whiz by in both directions every few minutes and the never-ending traffic follows suit. While an average Joe would curse his fate for having landed such an apartment for the sheer noise it bears, my friend doesn't mind it much. Having lived there for a number of years, he is accustomed to it & gets anxious when the trains don't pass by regularly (due to bandhs, accidents, water logging and the like). Sometimes, he finds it therapeutic even.

I completely relate to him. In my home town Dhanbad, my folks and I have lived in places barely 100 meters away from a railway line for what now seems like forever. Over the years, our home has changed many times but there has always been a constant: the railway tracks & the perenially chugging trains. As a child, I've watched in awe as mammoth steam-billowing engines have hauled a bevy of bogies & puny-seeming human beings within from one corner of as-far-as-the-eye-can-see to the other. The whistle of the steam engine would have me rushing out to the balcony to marvel at the rampaging metal monster & the black, ominous smoke surging out of it.

I've watched, bemused, as the monster has been humbled more than once; having to grind to a halt as a Holy Cow sauntered across the railway tracks. It's had me in splits when its whistle has scared the living daylights out of a defecating local. It's had me wide-eyed by running over the silver coin I've placed in its path, reducing it to a warm, flattened ellipse. It's made me ask my parents endless silly questions about it. And it's made them answer each silly question with utmost patience. The gentle rocking of the train has often been my lullaby on sweltering, restless nights; the thududd-thududd an assurance that everything is as normal as it can be. These little things had become such an integral part of our lives that on subsequent relocations, my parents specifically looked for homes bearing an intimate proximity to a railway line.

Where I live now, the sights & sounds include a sea of humanity & automobiles, festivities, funerals and what-have-you. Everything but the constant. The memories of the railway lines may nestle in a corner of my mind but my parents still live those memories back home. They live next to one to this day...

Image courtesy: Vogue India

It's a common fashion to disagree with what Sapna Bhavnani has to say, but that doesn't necessarily make her wrong. A firebrand acquaintance, more popularly known as M.S. Dhoni's superstar hair-stylist tweeted this gem recently:

When in doubt, open your mouth & spill it out instead of being a diplomatic hypocrite! Burning bridges ain't that bad. You learn to build new ones.

Yes, it ain't that bad. It ain't that easy burning bridges either when life & peace of mind might depend on it. But what good is a marriage of individuals which takes the joy out of living? Life IS after all a jigsaw of good & bad experiences, and some unplanned risks might very well put the puzzle together. Easier said than done Sapna, but a valid point nevertheless.


  1. Sachin12:53 PM

    Great post, felt similar like my childhood when we used to run to catch a glimpse of the passing train as soon as we heard a whistle. On a different note, I've been a big fan of yours since your Indian Idol days, just wanted to know where and if I can get all the songs you sang in Indian Idol.

  2. Hmmm !!! Nice :-) Words are saying what are you missing.

  3. Anonymous6:18 AM


    Your article brought back memories of sound of fast moving trains (British Rail - Inter City 125) as they whizzed by my windows when I spent my student days studying in the UK and seated at my study-desk facing out of window. The sound was loud and clear and sent a chill to the usually serence atmosphere; and within a few seconds, it's over. While I could not see the train passing as there were a cluster of houses with front and back yards lined up obstructing the view.

    Umm, I am not sure if that was a sweet or bitter memory. From time to time, I would also be woken up at night by sounds of high speed trains passing. Those were the days of joy and sorrow, burning the late night oil to pass professional exams, which I did with success.

    It was totally a different experience from yours. Keep writing.

  4. You're such a heartful expression, what a wonderful read! Love it <3 :)

  5. yup :) it reminded me of our old house.. it was near the railway lines :D
    Eeeh I was actually scared of the trains :P :P :P I never liked it O_O 'cause it was really noisy!! And I felt like it would kill me! >_>

    Take care Meiyang ^_^

  6. Anonymous1:52 AM

    Chang :)
    Was missing your writing!
    Loved the whole thing, sacchi.

    Will get back soon.

    B'luck to you, always :)

  7. Dear Meiyang,

    Your post reminded me of the best times I had in my life, a college study trip from Shillong to Bangalore and Chennai. The train journey was the highlight of our trip, playing silly games with silly punishment like running along the passageway of the compartments while singing 'Yahoo! Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe..' and encounters with strangers which touched our lives..

    Having something constant in our lives gives us a feeling of reassurance that some things does last a lifetime. It is harder to find such constants in life in the city I live in now but it was ever-present in Shillong where I grew up.


    I have burned quite a few bridges in the past, and it sure is not easy. Being a 'diplomatic hypocrite' seems so much easier, playing the pretend game. But you are right, it does take the joy out living and ultimately strains the relationship. Maybe that's why the bridges were burnt in the first place. As with everything in life in the past, it does come back to haunt you sometimes. Thankfully the present pulls you out of it soon enough!

    Always enjoy reading your post. Keep them coming whenever you have time or inspiration strikes!

    Sincere prayers and best wishes for everything you do.


  8. @ Dear All : The purpose of putting memories on paper (or in this case, the virtual world) is to inspire and to rouse long-lost memories of those who come across mine. I'm glad that my post has been able to remind you of days of joy, days of sorrow and hope that it will encourage you to write some beautiful pieces of your own. All the very best! You have to start someday, so why not now?

    Also, some readers have requested me to translate some of my old Hindi blog posts to English. While I'd love to do that for those who can't read/understand Hindi, I'd like to mention that the essence of a language is usually lost in translation. Nevertheless, I shall give it a try. Till the next post, Adios my friends

  9. Read ur post after a long time.....i had nvr experienced sch train shreiks life has been far away frm train travels nd frm it's whistels nd sounds till 2day,so nthing related to it cumes in my i really luv train travels(though had jst few) ....keep writing meiyang,it really feels so gud nd nice 2 read ur posts :-)

  10. Hmmm, Having watched your singing, movies clips of you hosting AND dancing in the past 2 weeks (sorry for joining the bandwagon late), I have to say

    1. You are probably the kind of person who excels at anything he picks up.
    2. Of all your formidable talents, I probably love your writing the most. Its magnetic and you just cannot stop reading!!! I love your voice, your acting, dancing and hosting skills. But I am definitely a fan of the Writer, Meiyang Chang! Keep writing! You've def inspired me to start writing my blog again!