Trains and planes
"मंज़िल से बेहतर लग रहे हैं ये रास्ते"
-- Aao milon chalein, Jab We Met, Irshad Kamil (lyricist) (2007)
I associate trains with pivotal moments in my life. It's really surprising how such massive monster-like machines designed to just do one thing -- "pull" can be of such significance in anyone's life. These colossal snake-like metallic beings come with makeshift homes across the nation -- train stations. Train stations resurface this strange yet familiar feeling of anticipating change. I've often found myself on the train stations during the transitional phases of life -- moving to a newer city for higher studies, exploring newer cities on an introspective trip, moving back home for the comfort of it. Trains rides provide enough time to be mentally prepared to move onto a newer habitat, leaving behind your identity and responsibilities you no longer need worry about. Talking to strangers headed to the same destination as yours also provides a window into others' lives along with their reasons for transitions in their lives at whatever point of their life they are at the time.
Planes on the other hand feel like majestic hulls of giant dead birds that have now become extinct and instead being driven by high powered engines to carry people and goods. Cramp a bunch of people into small cage with wings; with lesser leg room than a bus; pretend that the flight staff cares about them, feed them from time to time until they reach their destination. Nope. Inefficient mechanisms for onboarding luggage, doing security checks. All of it feels like a hindrance to the pleasant feeling of soaring through the clouds.
Planes and airports feel like a very rushed affair. Unlike train stations, everyone is dashing through airport terminals. I agree, airplanes are the fastest way known to mankind and those who could afford to save time, should. But, ask this to yourself -- have you ever felt the same abundance of time as trains? So much so that you ever went into introspection, called up a friend, or shared stories with strangers?
Don't take me wrong, I don't hate planes, I adore the elegance with which they are designed. A lot of credit goes to Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises that depicts protagonist's intense love for building the most "utskushi" (美しい / うつくしい / beautiful) plane ever. Another Jiro, if you may. I just love that artistic flare, it's inspiring.
Written: June 2023