It was a chance sliding of the curtains to catch my bearings during my recent train travel from Bhubaneswar to Visakhapatnam and the following sight was waiting for me :
On business tours, one normally likes to take night travel to save time but as it happened, I was on this train starting in the early hours. I managed to ready myself early enough after the busy and tiring schedule of the previous day but I was a bit disappointed to see that a side berth was allotted to me which is no one's favourite, usually. But I had some sleep to catch up with and the bed-roll provided by the Indian Railways looked cozy enough.
I must have dozed off into a deep sound sleep within moments of touching my back to the flat surface because after about an hour when I woke up to a tea-vendor's call, I was feeling very fresh and ready for the day. Out of habit, I just slid the curtains of my window to peep out expecting some dreary scene and I gasped. The sky in the distance was just waiting for me to take out my Canon 500D from the bag before bursting out. I did not waste any time, not even to finish my tiny cup of tea.
My train was moving fast and the view outside was kaleidoscopic. The skies changed almost at every blink of the eyes, if you allow me some exaggeration. The second picture below was clicked soon enough after the first one and the change is there to see.
I also patted my back for having charged the camera batteries fully after my 'shoot at sight' expedition to Nandankanan earlier day. While all the crowd was busy looking at the white tigers for which Nandankanan was known for, my local guide had taken me into other direction in search of Open-billed storks and in my guide's own words - thousands of them saar!. Sorry for my change of topic of this blog because when birds enter into a discussion, I have to linger a little more. The following picture is from Nandankanan skies but the same birds were also seen floating leisurely in the distant skies from my train window so this is not entirely a digression. Also click the link at the end of this blog to see my pictures at Nandankanan.
This train journey is more about skies in different attires, palm trees lining the farms, distant green rolling hills, the farm-hands that were found dotting the fields and the cattle grazing in the fields.
I feel blessed whenever I come across any one of the above scenes and here I had all together ! When I speak of green rolling hills it is first Austria ... (remember Climb every mountain....... the opening number of Sound of Music ?) and then Visakhapatnam that comes to my mind. A little calculation told me that the train had just left Orissa behind and was in Andhra Pradesh. During my previous visits to this state more than a decade back on another project work, I had spent some good time in Vizag and what impressed me first were these green hills surrounding the city.
Palm trees add a good value to a landscape, be they in a row in a distance trying to touch the skies or just one of them standing tall in the foreground.
Before moving further I must also inform the readers that it was not going to be an easy task taking pictures from a train moving at more than 80 Km per hour. While the motorman was making sure we would reach our respective destinations in time, I would have been happier if the train had stopped or moved at snail's space at least on this one occassion. Weren't our memories of train journeys in the past always filled with such 'dead-slow' moving trains? It was fine when clicking the distant hills but when it came to the subjects close enough, it was a tricky business. While the air-conditioned coach took care of comforts of its passengers, it was not particularly convenient to have a glass window, even though surprisingly clean enough by any standards. In the end, however, it all turned out to be a good experience and some new lessons in photography.
It was a situation where one could just aim and shoot any where any time except for the difficulties presented by the moving train. It was a morning in a monsoon in its prime with the farm labour just starting their day in the fields and shepherds and cowherds tending their wards. It was a bit comical to see cowherds standing in the middle of the fields with an open umbrella protecting themselves from the fury of the Sun god or the Rain god. How the perspectives changed ! Probably on such a pristine morning on a weekend, a city dweller would have loved to go out without an umbrella.
What one sees below must be some of the typical landscapes that one would find through out on the Coromandel trail:
I was also lucky to catch this washerman at the right moment from the running train. I don't want to comment on how clean his clothes would be ! Did any of the raucous detergent company advertisements ever reached this 'common' man of India or he knew how these companies were fooling the urban common man?
And was there anyone resting nearby to take away the clothes well in time for rains? See the following picture :
This was a train journey of 6 hours and landscape did not change much. This sounds like a contradicting statement after my earlier use of the words like kaleidoscope but this monotony had its own beauty.
So next time I am on a similar journey along any part of Coromandel, I will make it sure, it is in a monsoon and it is day time and I have a camera. And a piece of advice for those who do not carry a camera with them : The best camera is with us all the time : our eyes.
Happy clicking !
For my pictures at Nandankanan near Bhubaneswar : http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2218817866598.127666.1132196264&l=be496a3815&type=1