Take a train back to innocence, loud tea vendors

Three Bengalureans, with day jobs, are presenting a play on rail journeys and self discovery

Published: 14th March 2017 10:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2017 03:55 AM   |  A+A-

Madhumay Sinha during a performance

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Three Bengalureans, who otherwise work in IT, healthcare and analytics, have written, directed and acted in a play woven around train journeys. The three are founder-members of the theatre troupe called First Drop.
The next, titled Adhvanika, is a compilation of five plays that promise to bring you humor, crime, satire and drama. The writers were inspired by the intimate encounters and memoral experiences people have in trains. It will be a an attempt to capture “the simpler times”.

The play takes from many journeys but there are those few that stand out the writers’ memory. “We used to travel to our grandfathers’ house in Burdwan, every summer, by train,” writes Debleena, in an email interview. “Three hours in peak heat. But my most clear memory of those journeys is not the stifling heat. It’s the sharing of jhalmuri and tea, the sudden antakshari session with strangers, the blinking of the eyes as the tunnel emerged to glorious sunlight. A simple time that I would love my daughter to experience.”

Co-writer Bejoy recalls an overnight journey, in an unreserved compartment. “There were several of us crammed into the seating space and many others standing,” he writes, in the email. “What stuck me was the ease with which conversations flowed, among total strangers, despite the not-so-comfortable space. The conversations veered from the interview that 1 person had to attend the next day to someone’s upcoming heart surgery! Cricket, movies, politics, personal worries - nothing was taboo. What resonated in me were few things - how we can all ‘adjust’ when we really want/need to, how genuine empathy can be found from unknown people, how the smiling faces around us sometimes conceal such intense stories.”

There have been many stories told around communal journeys that lead to self discovery and/or abiding friendships. But, the writers say that their story is different for being placed in trains that are less frequently used with “faster modes of transport”. “Growing up in 70’s and 80’s India, trains were an essential part of our lives,” says Bejoy.
Adhvanika came out of a short production the team had earlier staged. “We had earlier presented a short play, as part of a larger theatre festival, in which the the events unfold around a railway platform,” says Bejoy.
“It was during the course of putting together that play that the idea first took birth; of putting together a larger play in which trains and platforms would have have prominence.”

The stories emerged from a “kaleidoscope of images” that are part of every train journey. “The unique tea vendor, the run-down platform, that loud and intrusive co-passenger, that friend you made and lost, the rude shocks that you had to absorb, that pleasant company you have since forgotten,” says Bejoy.

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