MIDWAY: Better late than never

Trains are a marvelous mode of travel: they are fast, cozy, comfortable, economical and ecological. There are more beautiful adjectives to associate with them. One may make a long journey by train yet feel fresh as a daisy at the end of the day.

They are the least polluting vis-à-vis other means of transport, and nothing smells nauseating inside a train — a crowning advantage over a bus, a jeep or a car. Moreover, during train journey, even the insomniacs may end up sleeping like a log, as the train has a pleasantly soothing and soporific motion.

Personally, I tend to go bananas the moment I see a train — in real, in magazines or on television. Those swift, sleek and chic trains zooming through the green Japanese or French countryside, for instance, turn me green with envy, simply because we have no trains. All that we have is a legendary tale relating to trains in Nepal — the dream surung marg train connecting Hetauda and Kathmandu! Well, the ‘thing’ does not even exist, as the project has prematurely fallen by the rail-wayside!

Elsewhere, in place of legendary tales, there are legendary trains. In July 2006, I was in Beijing along with some of my friends. After a couple of weeks in the Chinese capital, we had planned to travel to Tibet by train.

To our dismay, however, the officer at the train station told us that for months ahead, the train had been fully earmarked in honour of those who had toiled to construct the railway at an altitude as high as 5070m.

Interestingly, we all happened to be mad about trains. Prior to our trip to China, we had spent hours surfing the Internet for information on train travels in China. Consequently, there was no question we would miss the fastest train of the world — the Shanghai Maglev, 431 km/h — that connects Shanghai International Airport with the City Center.

While we made sure to travel by train in China as much as possible, we kept regretting at not being able to take the one to Lhasa. But then, perhaps something more thrilling and enjoyable

is in store for us: someday, we may have the occasion to take a train from Beijing to Lhasa, and all the way down to Kodari. It’s never too late, they say!