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Ghosts In The Train

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It’s the first time since March that I made a train journey. To those who know me well, they are aware of my love for trains. The rocking of rail coaches over the tracks has the magic quality of putting me to sleep, something I struggle with on a daily basis. There are only two things I look forward to doing in trains – reading & sleeping.

Given that the pandemic is still not under control, we obviously had our apprehensions about the kind of crowd we could possibly encounter on the train. This was essential travel and not a vacation. We were armed with PPE kits and surprisingly were the only people wearing them. Although most people had masks on. Luckily for us, there were only two other co-passengers in the entire coach. A train coach is usually packed with over 70 people.

The humble train turned out to be a LOT less riskier, since we didn’t have anybody around us. The first time I traveled in Covid-era was October end, to the beach city Vizag, to meet my parents. I hadn’t met them in 2020 at all, and they had been asking us to visit since flights resumed operations, which was way back in May. Our October flight was filled to the brim, not a single seat was unoccupied!

So the rail experience was surprising. Needless to say, we’ve never seen such empty trains in India in all our lives. It was a pleasant novelty which assuaged our fears about contracting the virus. Despite having no company, we continued to wear our protective gear and slept in them from the overnight journey.

“The two of us are the only weirdos wearing PPE kits on the train,” I texted my friends who wanted to see pictures.

“You no weird. You awesome. You cool. Those others dumb,” a friend texted back. The broken English was deliberate fun.

Although we were glad that there were very few people travelling, we were surprised that there were no precautions at the railway station, like at airports, especially because it was a major station in Bengaluru (India). There was nobody to check temperatures of incoming passengers at the entry gates. There was no facility to sanitise anything. Although most shops at the station were closed, but that was obviously because of the lower footfall. Anyway, it was a relief to not worry about having strangers too close to us.

And like always – I had a good night’s sleep on the deserted train.

On the return-train journey, there was only one other person on our coach and it was a day train, we weren’t going to sleep, so we just masked up.

I will leave you with a picture of us looking like ghosts on the window, with our PPE kits on.

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