As I sat in the train with my writing book and the two gadgets (my Nokia 6630 and iPod Mini), I couldnt but help think that train travel has its own romance. Somewhere as we grow up, time pressure overtakes everything else and we are forever in a hurry. A train journey that day seemed like an oasis in the blur of our fast-paced lives. Sitting there, looking out of the window, listening to Kishore Kumar songs from the 70s and 80s, it was like a journey back to a different era and a different me. That day, I discovered a little more about me.
I dont get a lot of chunky time to think and be by myself. At work, life is a steady stream of meetings, emails, phone calls and SMSes. At home, seven-month-old attention-seeking Abhishek dominates. For a brief period that day, I was alone away from everyone I knew (and in a world where no one knew me). I got to enjoy the pleasure of deep thinking where time is not a constraint. As I looked out of the window, I let my mind roam free and wrote out the thoughts and ideas that came to mind. I didnt have to worry about being interrupted I could dig a little deeper into some ideas, even as I let a few go by.
It is what I do on long flights. Up above the world so high, the airplane becomes a cocoon for a few hours. I havent taken a long flight for more than a year (having only made a Singapore trip in the past year). Most Indian flights tend to be short ones. Besides, the jet lag starts hitting when on international flights the darkened environment doesnt help.
As I sat in the train, I realised that this was even better. I got a lot of thinking done. I used my mobile with its GPRS connection to connect outside and check a few things. It was just enough connectivity. A PC would have distracted me with many other things I could have done! So, in that sense, it was perfect minimalism a window seat as the train travelled though the Indian countryside giving me plenty of pointers to take thoughts in different directions, an iPod with some of my favourite songs, a mobile which just enough connectivity, and my book to make all the notes that I wanted.
There is one abiding moment from that day. As I sat at the window and saw one of the mineral water vendors come by on the platform, an image flashed by. Mohan Bhargava in Swades. Mohans world changes when he sees a child sell water for 25 paise at a train station. For me, the train journey was something more subtle it was a re-connection with the land I grew up in and belong to, but increasingly found myself going away from living in the urban ivory tower.
I have always felt that it was for the lucky ones like us to be able to make a difference and transform India. The train journey that day reinforced this determination. As an entrepreneur and by leveraging the new elements that can help build the framework for a connected digital infrastructure (network computers, mobile phones, next-generation networks, computing grids and Tech 7-11s), we can build an envelope of services which can truly make a difference across the other India that also needs to develop.
When I walked back from the train to my waiting car at Bandra at 8:30 pm that evening, it has been barely 14 hours since I had made the journey in the other direction. And yet, a lot had elapsed during that day. It was a day unlike any other that I had experienced in recent times. It took a train ride for me to discover a little more about my past and perhaps frame the future.