When you think of the west, cowboys horse ranches really come to my mind. Thats is one of the most wanted thing on my to do list for now "horseback riding". Well we can save that story for later. But for now the West I am talking of is away from the dessert heat and cowboys, it is the West Coast.
I had gone for a training to Sacremento, which is the capital of California. I had taken an extra day off for visiting my brother in Sunnyvale as the training ended Thursday. Sacremento is not one of those bustling cities and you would really feel out of California there, according to my observation. I took a cab from my hotel to Training site every day but hardly noticed many people except when I went out for lunch. So, on Thursday as the training got over, I decided to quit exploring the city and go to Sunnyvale before nightfall. I asked one of my training mates to drop me to the rail station nearby.
As I looked at the small old architechture station building, I saw a lot of beggars and some people just sitting around without a reason there. I gathered some guts to go in the station. Thought to myself "there is definitely going to be station staff". I entered the station and it was no better than a Bombay local station. Some stench and again the similar people inside as the one outside. I walked across the hall and came to the ticket window and asked "when is the earliest train to Sunnyvale". The ticket counter lady infomed me it just left 10 min back and the next train was at 7PM, 3.5 hours from now. Well as I had no other option I took the ticket and kept thinking to myself, would it have been better to take a plane ticket, but I so much wanted to experience the train journey. What about Greyhound, but then it was not going to be any better. I thanked the lady and again looked around.
This time more keenly as I had to sit there for 3.5 hours, again beggar, beggar, person with colored hair, person with piercing and guitar, person in tattered clothes. So I was not sure how much I wanted to sit there trusting that at the end of journey I would have all my baggage safe. It was still daylight so I ventured out to see if there was a deli or coffee shop around, and see if I could catch some interenet. And well starbucks came to the rescue, it was like 200ft from train station and I was relieved. Well thats the safe feeling something familier can provide. Another thing crossed my mind, mostly ppl working at starbucks are students or they have other jobs, so they might be nice people. I entered the coffee shop, It was really small and a bit stuffed. Ordered my regular hot Chocolate Mocha, well sometimes the regular feels really special and this was one of those times :), where you thank the regular speical things in your life. While I eyed tha cake, which I usually skip at starbucks because of already heavy caloried coffee, I had no intention of doing any such thing this time. "A babana loaf cake for here" came the words right out. Somehow I was able to get hold of a single chair and table near the window and sat sipping my coffee. I had a book to read "Micorsoft course book", but I had already had 4 days of crash course and this really was those fun + exciting moments where you are enjoying your time along sitting in coffee shop, knowing nothing and noone around you. One of those least bothered moments.
I peered out of the window for sometime and wondered at the people walking around and the calmness of the place. It was definitely eerie, I was still surprised, maybe I was in the "No tresspassing" area of the city. While I conjured up something to write about this place then its only now that I am writing it after 7 months.
As I had nothing to do, I called up all my friends whom I hadn't called in a long long while. It was nice to touch base. I checked my watch and there was still 1 hour to go. I felt very comfortable beeing in starbucks but still I decided to move to the station as I dint want to miss the train, specially as it was the last train to SunnyVale and I knew absolutely no one in 'Sacremento'. Well I picked up my bags and went out, looked back at starucks and thought to myself, how much is the probability of me coming back to that coffee shop, I think never. Living on east coast I usually just do one trip to West a year, but to Sacremento is a possibility in millions. I thanked it for giving me the comfortable feeling and left the place as I put it in my books as 'random meetings'.
Back at the train station, I was hoping to see atleast someone and just then an old couple came in. They looked like the usual travellers and after they were a bit settled I decided to go talk to them. I asked them if they were from here and regular travellers and explained to them , I came from Birmingham and was travelling train in US the first time. They were very sweet and told the whole story of how their son worked there and they were visiting him and going back to sunnyvale themselves. And I told them how as an outsider, I feel Sunnyvale is much better and cozy as compared to this city and why I was here etc. After an intial exchange of information, they were even more settled and started talking of theri family and stuff. Time flew by fast and I did not notice that there was noone at the station as yet. There was no announcement. As it neared 7, we walked to station and looked for the train, when one of the officers going by just showed us to the train. Now these are like some of the pleasures who have staying in small city. You always have people working at a relaxed place and helping you out and noones rushing. If you have ever travelled in trains here, you will find that they are double decker couches. The inside of the train is as in picture :
It was cozy and I could see the full outside view. I was really excited for the 4 hour journey, not knowing what was in store.I took a seat across the old couple, made myslef cozy, opened up my laptop, put my phone to charge, took out movie CD's. Well except wi-fi they had everything. I had 3 movies, but decided to watch the pink panther, as I was in a light mood. The train started in about 10 min, I stretched my legs across the seat and just then teh sun came trickling throught he window right on my face. I had no intention of sleeping and the warmth of sun in that AC couch felt nice. I put the movie and earphone on and started laughing (obviously to wonder of whoever was around, but then who has watched the movie and like that genre is surely going to know what I am talking of 'i wud lake tho have a hamdurber' :)
15 min in the movie and I raised my head above the screen and there was the whole sea beside the railway. I was so glad to be on the right side of the train, we were travellign right along the coast. The sun was gleaming into the water and as far as I cud see was the sea. I was hooked to that scene, I have never in my entre life experienced such a beautiful train view. I always thought they wen through tunnels ;)
Then came the meadows, then the sea, agan the meadows and the train going in a zig zag fashion through them. Suddenly the train scene from Harry potter crossed my mind. His first train to hogwarts from platform 9 and 3 quarters. The greenery and the sea, I was tranferred to my land of wizards. I wondered to myslef, if there is any place as serene, beautiful and quite. I could kill time there not doing anything just looking out at the different shades of sky, water and meadows and the day changed to night and back to day and not feel bad about doing nothing. Just then the ticket checker came and I came out of the dream. Am sure by now even the readers are bored about this long dream, so 'yayy' for the ticket checker. After 2 hour journey and stopping at some sacremento type stations, I was still engrossed in the view doing back and forth on my movie. The movie ended and I decided to turn on some hindi music. Its very unusual to listen to any hindi music at all in US unless you are in states like NY/NJ and thus listening to it from my seat in train, was like being in India right in middle of a sceneic view. Now I decided to concentrate on view in order to absorb all it could provide. The "In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein Pakiza Se Riste Hain" song really went well with that place and time, the soothing effect of the music and meaning of that line in particular kind of summed up the moment :)..Yeah Indian music with a heavy classical base did the wonders, I thought to myself.
As the other songs from the movie played in loop we came to a number of stations some with coconut tress, while some with as much lighting as christmas decorations, some really old style. I am doing some research to collect pictures to post it here (to be continued..)