The train

My love for the commuter train from my small burg into the city depends on only one thing. Who sits next to me. I can have a beautiful ride into work if I’m not assailed with strange smells or someone who takes up more than their share of the seating. People who fall asleep and lean on me are the worst. People who are polite and quiet are the best.

Please use the open space below to share your first 50 words on the topic “the train.”

Author: Virginia DeBolt

Writer and teacher who writes blogs about web education, writing practice, and pop culture.

5 thoughts on “The train”

  1. (This is a short memoir of the first time I took public transportation when I went away to graduate school in Chicago from my small hometown.)

    I fidgeted on the platform, staring at the paper from my classmate. The previous day, in the campus coffee shop, she’d explained the train system. Her ease with big-city transportation mystified me, a girl from a coastal town who’d only ridden in cars.

    The train arrived; I braced myself.

  2. My cousin Nick and I waited in the ditch anticipating the passing of the sugarcane-laden freight train. We’d heard the old locomotive’s whistle in the distance and with the typical impatience of our youth, darted out the door toward the train tracks. Once we saw the billowing smoke in the distance, we knew we were in for a treat.

    As the black locomotive came into view, we started waving our arms. It was our way of communicating to the men riding on top of the newly-cut sugarcane to throw some of them in our direction. Next thing you know, we had collected the long stalks, my uncle had peeled it and cut it into pieces and Nick and I were sitting on the train tracks enjoying the sweet nectar from our tropical treat.

    1. Loved the narration,Claire . “Smoke billowing “, nostalgia unparalleled for steam trains . Have you seen Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali”? I strongly recommend .

  3. The train chugged in a full three hours fifty minutes late . That was what was announced on the platform . Add that to the fifteen minutes that the train waited on the platform ( scheduled stop only 2 min ) and we were fours hours plus . Well, there you go . If you start counting the minutes , it becomes terrible , agonising . The faster , more efficient trains , the Shatabdis and Rajdhanis didnt have any seat for a sudden traveller like me , hence this long distance train , coming all the way from Mumbai .

    There were two portly Gujarati Businessmen to my right , who ate , burped , complained , bribed the attendant ( for first class food ) , and ate some more . They would pull their curtains when eating , and when in mood , would discuss politics with their neighbours (ugh ).

    I took out my book and pretended to be submerged in it . Two Punjabi brothers of the age group 10-8 , played around on my berth , jumping , swinging , chasing each other , hiding behind curtains , and in moments of quiet contemplation , looking at me , as an alien , dropping biscuit crumbs on me and my book . The mother sat across from me and was trifle disappointed in me , as I would not initiate friendly conversation, neither would I engage with her “adorable ” boys . I had just returned from a hospital ICU . Wasn’t in the best of my moods and the ambience didn’t help . The window was hogged . I was reduced to a small , unwanted , central portion of the berth I had paid for . It was unfair and disgusting .

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