Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Trained Eye

When we were children, every time we went on a train journey, we would look out of the window at level crossings and feel sorry for the poor people who lived in the middle of nowhere between the big railway stations.

After I married my tea planter husband almost 25 years ago, I've lived in that world of unimportant level crossings. Our tea garden is just one of the sights that can be seen on the train line between Delhi and Guwahati.

One Diwali/Kali Puja night many years ago at the Kali temple level crossing near our home, the gateman kept the gates closed so he could light candles on the bars.

Those were days when there was less traffic. Every time a vehicle crossed, he'd open the gate and his candles would go flying. When he closed the gate, he would arrange the candles again and light them with great care, apparently undisturbed by the thought that they would only burn until the next vehicle came along.

It was a pleasant surprise to see a small puja pandal near the Chalsa level crossing. It must have been put up for Kali Puja, which was over ten days ago. A pandal's basic function is to provide a platform for placing the image of the goddess. Pandal decoration has become an elaborate and showy affair in the towns here these days.

This structure, however, seemed to be a labour of love - a work of art that came straight from the heart.

The model of the train engine was true to life, and the cabin a perfect replica of the real thing. Hats off to the people who built it. I'm not surprised they didn't want to pull it down.

Above: the 'real' cabin at the crossing. The number is the same as the one on the model.

Now that the festive season is finally over, I'm done with complaining about its drawbacks. Its good to see signs that people everywhere had their share of fun.