Train Whistle

Monday, February 1, 2010

After a brief absence, the rain comes again. I can smell it in the air. It is close, very close. And, as much as I welcome that sweet water, I can't help but remember this day, not too long ago. Along the shore, late December. Our shoes were off, sweaters tied around our waists and the warm winter sun kissed our heads and arms and dried our toes.

I heard the whistle first. That long, lonely drone that beckons you to stop and recall all of the exotic places you have roamed. Whenever I hear a train whistle, I remember Kerala.

When my daughter was a year old, we boarded a long flight across many bodies of water, to India. We lived initially in the small village of Vrindavan, the childhood home of Little Lord Krsna. We shopped in the market place, trying to protect our vegetables from the rascally monkeys. We bathed in the Yamuna River and carried back loads of sand for scrubbing our pots. It was a simple time, filled with the fragrant smells of a small village, incense, ghee lamps and open fires. Mantras and songs blared over loud speakers, the air was ripe with scent and movement.

After a time, I became cocky and confident that I could eat just about anything. Pride goes before a fall...My digestion just turned off. Like a switch. No need to go into detail, suffice it to say, that after a few weeks of this nonsense, I could see my bones through my skin. Feeling better after a home visit from a physician which included an injection of "I have no idea," he suggested a trip to South India. For healing. Like going to Bath.

We made contact with friends and jumped on a train. For three and a half days. An Indian train, mind you. Not this shiny Amtrak train...Don't get me wrong. I LOVED every single moment. The large hole in the eastern lavatory that emptied directly onto the track, the delicious idli and samosa and coconut chutney from the train station peddlers, the night I awoke only to glance out the window to see the train speeding through the swampy Indian countryside, pink, white and wine colored lotus flowers as far as the eye could see...

Oh yes. When I hear a train whistle, this is just one of the places I go...