Train to Chhattisgarh
Virtually I had visited Chhattisgarh umpteen times and later those virtual visits became one of my greatest fears. For a very long time I kept changing routes to avoid Chhattisgarh but finally I decided to face it to let it become a memory…. It was early in the morning and train had just passed Katni railway station. Umaria was not very far and memories from Bhandavgarh started to take shape. Overnight journey through Madhya Pradesh was as comfortable as it can be and I somehow refrained myself getting down from the train to do cycling through the villages of MP…yet again… but I trusted the destiny and continued my journey…In a short while, train entered Chhattisgarh and my heart beat was also grown.. While turning the pages of news paper I learnt that coastline of Orissa is going to hit a storm tonight.. I chuckled and murmured… “What a timing Mr Kumar ?.. What a timing ?... I deliberately started not to pick up calls from family and friends because I knew most of them will convince me to retreat which had never been intrinsic to me (at least when it comes to traveling). I have visited many places when it was the worst time to venture there and this time around I blamed destiny and stopped thinking.
On the way to Bilaspur
Chhattisgarh is one of the greenest states of India and it became quite evident as I entered Chhattisgarh. Endless green of paddy fields were joining undulating hills of Satpura range and were adorned with occasional rivulets or water streams. Red soil of Chhattisgarh is hard of get unnoticed and one of the reason why I wanted to witness this land. It reminded me the scene from movie “Blood Diamond” when Danny archer discloses his plan and colonel tells him a story about Red soil. “This red earth, it’s our skin”.. Many times I imagined that scene with blood dipping over the sand and Danny crushes the handful of soil. Chhattisgarh is mostly covered with tract of sal forest which gets colder during night. Suddenly I noticed a unique part of the landscapes and those were natural ponds fulfilling daily needs of habitants. Unlike rest of the country, these ponds are also source of potable water. From the train I have got glimpse of those lotus fringe pools having people taking bathe, filling clay pots and all. Woow… that’s the countryside I was looking for… I desperately wanted to deboard to get much closer to the earth and to the people of Chhattisgarh. Another peculiar and concerning sight was ladies with bare minimum clothing to cover their breasts. It is perhaps due to the poverty in the region. In some part of India, girls wear minimum clothing to flaunt their assets and in this part it is due to compulsion not by choice. Now it’s all burning down to a debatable question which very often stirs the media “Do you think women wearing less clothing is one of the reasons of non-consensual sex (Rape) in India?”. If that’s the case then why it’s not that common in the part where women do not have much clothing to cover them ..Not by choice but by compulsion… I am a silent spectator of life so passing these observations to urban intellectuals to ponder upon. Bilaspur arrived and most of the passengers gotten down leaving me with occasional thoughts of storm in Orissa..
Glimpse of Satpura range
I reached Raipur in the afternoon and was totally surprised by the cleanliness of the station. Railway station also got an escalator which is rarely to see in small towns. Traffic was thin which led me doubt as if I arrived at wrong time. I hit the bus stand and graced myself with an appetizing lunch which I never knew I am going to miss for so long. Withdrew cash and weighed various options. Laziness of the town tempted me to stay long and longer but I decided to leave the comfort zone to embrace the beauty of unknown. I boarded bus to Mahasamund which is some 60 km from Raipur. Mahasamund was my only chance to get a connecting bus or something to Sirpur and luckily I was able to catch the last bus to Sirpur.