Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Arriving May 3rd GT Express . Send Bullock cart
The title of this post is paraphrased from real telegrams that my family used to send when we made our annual vacation visits to my parent's place of birth in a rural village in the suthern state of India Andhra Pradesh. Every year till we went to high school we would make the journey from which ever city we lived in at that time to these adorable villages using autorickshaws, taxis, trains, buses culminating in a bullock cart ride for about 10 kms.
There are several points to this post other than nostalgia
a) Communications :it was not very long ago that radio(not the car radio) was an important tool for news worldwide. Compare that to today half (47%) of all U.S. adults get at least some local news
and information on their phone or tablet.
I have used telegrams into the late 80's in India. This website i found through a Google search tells you telegrams can still be sent
Till I came to the US 12 years ago i was a avid letter writer. Some days i wish I had continued the habit ( the USPS will certainly be happy)
During our vacations we would also send an advanced letter to my grandfather to expect us during a certain month. This letter would travel the same route we did using almost the same modes of transport till it reached a bus stop 10 kms away (Begampeta village) their the parttime postman who was also the village Dhobi (village level small business doing laundry)picked up the sealed mail bag and walked the 10 miles to deliver the mail to the village. In the later years the postman got a bicycle.
During these visits as a kid I would remember the year when the village got electricity. My grandfather had a radio before electricity powered by a 9v eveready battery.Today if Twitter has a fail whale my adrenalin starts flowing.
2) Transport. I am really lucky . How many of you can say that you have learnt the art of driving a Bullock cart specially when you were less than 10 years old. I did and its a amazing experience. Happiness i guess is very relative, you are either satisfied that you are doing reasonably very well or be unhappy that the joneses have something you don't have.
The memories of getting on the GT Express train traveling across India and experiencing the innovative vendors on the train and on stations en route selling food, news papers, tea or coffee, sweets. Snake charmers, parrots that tell your fortune all of these were exciting for us and I do not think I ever thought I wish I was on a plane ( BTw as I write this I am on a plane with wifi) We would get off the usually 24 hour train ride and get on a bus. Did you know the way to reserve a seat was to run as the bus pulled in and throw a piece of your belonging through the window of a running bus to stake a claim . Fights over seats were not uncommon. We looked forward eagerly to the bullock cart ride. The people carrying bullock cart is different from the picture above. it would have a thatched roof and hay on the floor and a blanket thrown on top . The hay was to cushion your bottom. There were no roads only bullock cart tracks. Traveling in this fashion rattled every but of your body which no other form of transport has done for me again.
Today I drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid on the Dulles Toll Road. Buses now go several times a day to our ancestral village and cell phones are the predominant way to communicate.
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