There are no photographs in this post. So, if you have tolerated my writing till now, because you found my photographs mildly enjoyable, I suggest that you close this window right away!
But, if you are willing to take the risk of me blabbering away for, I don’t know how many more words…. God help you! 🙂
I recently stumbled upon a blog where the author mentioned that her family had recently lost their old family albums. The loss of those priceless photographs made her feel as if those very parts of her childhood had been lost. But, she realized that those moments of her childhood will always remain as part of her memories, which the mere destruction of photographs, cannot take away. As George Clooney’s character says in Up in the Air, “Photographs are for people who can’t remember!”
Which brings me to the trip which was my biggest regret for a long time, ever since I acquired my camera. This was in the month of July. I was travelling for some official work from Guwahati, the capital of the north-eastern state of Assam to Dimapur in Nagaland, by train. The Jana Shatabdi starts at 6:30 am and reaches Dimapur around 11:30 a.m.
Just to give a brief background, North-eastern India is relatively un-explored as compared to the other, more popular parts of India. But, as anyone who has visited these parts will vouch, the beauty of the place will take your breath away. But, it is also a fact that this part of India has seen relatively less economic development. This in turn led many people to demand for separate regions for themselves, some even asking for separate nationhood. Nowadays, most of the 7 states comprising North-Eastern India are quite peaceful. But, outsiders can face problems in some of the places, from extortionists on the look-out for a quick buck.
Dimapur was one place which all my colleagues warned, that I should be careful about. People even insisted that I should not be wearing formal wear, not even closed shoes! I usually make sure to listen to every piece of advice, but prefer to decide for myself which ones to heed. On this occasion, the advice was so overwhelmingly similar, I got affected. But, that did not prevent me from taking along my expensive photography gear!
The train started on time, and slowly chugged its way out of the still sleepy city of Guwahati. Soon, we were going through the valleys. It was drizzling that day, which made the already green valley look greener. Thankfully, the Air- Conditioned seats were all sold out, and I was in the non-AC compartment. And I had a window seat.
I really hope I can put in words what I saw. On both sides of the train tracks were lush green paddy fields, and in the background mountains. And you could see that solitary farmer tilling the soil, with a conical, straw hat, to prevent the raindrops from dripping down his face. Or that faraway figure pushing the bullocks to plough the field.
And then suddenly a rivulet would burst into the scene, meandering its way across the plains. And I could see the silhouette of a boatman, lazily working the oar to take boat to the other side. And the raindrops, creating a thousand ripple in the water.
Or the unforgettable scene of a mother and her son walking down a narrow path, one after the other, both holding bright blue umbrellas, which created such a breath-taking contrast, against the lush green fields in the foreground and the cloud covered mountains in the backdrop!
There would be the occasional cyclist on a snaky muddy path surrounded by dense foliage. And so many more….
It was a train ride like none other. AND, I had my camera to capture it for eternity, right? Wrong.
Remember the warnings about Dimapur. Well, I am so brave, that I kept wondering, what if I took out my camera, and someone would notice it, and snatch it, when I got down at Dimapur. So, every time I got up to take out my camera, the images of my camera getting stolen, made me sit down.
And, hence, today, instead of posting some, hopefully, unforgettable photographs, I am just writing about them. And to put salt onto my wounds, on reaching Dimapur, I found it to be nothing like what I had imagined! It was just like any other small town.
I was filled with regret for a long time, for the opportunity missed on that wonderful train ride. After all, I will not remain young forever, and a day might come when my memory would not remain as sharp, and I may forget all about that ride.
But, another part of me tells me, I was lucky enough to witness those magical moments, and it gave me immense pleasure just to be able to experience it.
That’s a blessing in itself. Is it not?
Footnote: This post was inspired by last week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which asked bloggers to capture a moment without using a photograph. Hope you liked my attempt.