The final leg of my journey across America from New York to San Francisco begins.
I spent almost the entire day sitting in the sightseers’ lounge (well, that’s the heart of the California Zephyr), beholding the red-rock canyons and mountain passes on one of the world’s most spectacular stretches of railway.
As the train left Glenwood Springs (Co) at 5.35pm, I heard an announcement saying “the service of the California Zephyr will remain suspended for one week from next day due to track repair work.” I considered myself lucky!
Even though the entire trip in California Zephyr takes two days and two nights, if you want, you can hop off for 24-hour whistle-stop in three places.
I met a guy who’d strike out across the prairies of Iowa and Nebraska before overnighting at the little town of Granby in Colorado’s Middle Park Area. After snaking though the Rockies, he would stop at Reno, Nevada, for the nearby Wild West mining town of Virginia City. Finally, he would overnight in Sacramento, California’s little state capital.
As I begin to write the fourth part of my train travel across America by Amtrak, I see a front-page New York Times report slamming the Amtrak for “delaying repairs on decrepit tracks” in NY Penn Station.
By putting off repairs that it mistakenly believed were not critical, the Amtrak set the stage for two of the derailments, which were caused by broken tracks on the west side of the station, one of the world’s busiest train stations, the report said.
Despite the Amtrak-bashing story, the Lake Shore experience convinced me that if one really wants to get under the skin of the US, Amtrak is the way to go.
The romance of train travel from the Lake Shore’s sightseers’ lounge continued. As the train snorted down the railroad tracks, Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous poem (1885) crossed my mind. As a child, I was fascinated by his poem:
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
The first leg of our journey across America begins.
We walked from the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue to NY Penn station at west 31st Street to board the Lake Shore Limited, the train that would take us to Chicago.
As I sit down at my friends, Suparno-Malabika’s 12th floor apartment ‘Pineway Towers’ in Silver Spring, MD to write down the jaw-dropping and fascinating experiences of the train travel from New York to San Francisco, I am reminded of J.K. Rowling.
Rowling had a passion for train ride as her parents met on a train, she wrote. Her mother was once traveling by train and was feeling terribly cold. A stranger offered her a blanket. Later she married the guy. She always wrote about her fondness for train journeys.
Mr Prime Minister, I was absolutely astonished by the way the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has treated The Argumentative Indian, a documentary on Amartya Sen by economist Suman Ghosh.
It’s an innocuous film, beautifully crafted.
Prof Sen in an interview said it was not so much the word ‘cow’, the fact that “I raised my eyebrows and complained whether in a country as multi-religious as India, whether cow slaughter could be banned, on which the lives of so many people depend.”
He also said “It’s not the use of the word ‘Gujarat’ that they didn’t like, but my reference to what happened in 2002 in Gujarat that they don’t like.”
The Censor diktat has raised a question: Is this the way the democracy is being interpreted now?