Solo-travel is oxymoronic. One can never travel alone. There are always people sharing a part of the path with you. To me and to anyone who finds “classic, no nonsense” train travel fantastic, no train journey can be complete without the swaying and swerving of the train carriages, the sound of the wheels racing on the rails and the occasional vendor hawking
his wares. It would seem that these are magical things that change how time runs inside a train. They change how our minds think. Suddenly, you’re stuck with several random strangers, some with a shared destination in a long narrow array of metal boxes that are charging forth and equally suddenly, these random strangers are interesting and their otherwise normal and mediocre lives are all you wonder about.
I have to admit that I am not one of those outspoken persons who can and do strike up conversations with everyone and anyone. I tend to keep to myself in most occasions. My parent’s assessment of me being shy is certainly partly correct. But can I as an adult afford to be shy?
In that metal box where I slept, sat and ate, I was compelled to interact with people. The train pushed me to initiate contact or at least build on someone else’s initiative with proportional interest in conversing. If there is anything that drives me crazy, it is the fact that sometimes, I don’t have anything to do. It did take me a while to slowly slither down my berth and talk to real people but I did it anyway. As it turns out, it isn’t so bad.
Now, I can talk to anyone. I can initiate and maintain a conversation with anyone and I’ve proven it with random and varied test cases.
So if your teenage son or cousin is a shut-in, put him on a sleeper or chair coach in any of the trains traversing the length and breadth of our land alone and see the railways teach him/her a thing or two about people!