Ranikhet Express – bogey heading towards Ramnagar – II Acc – 4 a.m. – sweaty and half- dreamt, half-dreaming, half-air-conditioned early morning – train stops in the dirty-lit station morning – everyone gets off – I think we have reached Ramnagar – hurry to pack and open eyes and stumble off the grumbling train – only to find that is Kashipur – thank goodness I see the sign – is stumble back on, as if returning to boarding-school after it has closed – berths are empty – the lower-berth, which was mine, but which I had given over to a lady who berth was an upper one and onto which she could not climb, is now empty – blankets and pillows and sheets and half-used towels abandoned like malas after an arranged marriage – I settle down, too tired and too restless even to remove my boots – the train pants, but does not move – then, from around a half-curtained corner, comes a young man – slim, in dark trousers and white shirt – neat, short hair – he has an air of gentle purpose – no show, no sham – I wonder who and what he is – then he says, in the simplest of Hindustani – “Aap ko agar aur ek takiya chaahiye, to yeh lijiye” – whereupon he offered me a clean pillow, and then proceeded to bring collecting the abandoned blankets and sheets and pillows and towels – I take the pillow from him, put it under my weary head, and watch him – quietly – I now recognize him – he is the attendant on the Ranikhet Express, Ramnagar Bogey – and he is fulfilling his duty – to make order out of the night, as the morning arrives – he neatly stacks the various items according to their types, on the lower berth across the aisle – he pays no more attention to me, until I ask him how far it is to Ramnagar – he politely tells me – ‘Pantaalees minute” – and continues his duty – with such total lack of fuss and bother, that I am not only fascinated, but liberated – the lean lines of his body, the formal and yet easy colours and fall of his clothes, the lack of statement of his hairstyle – but beyond all these, his total commitment to what he is doing – the earnest ease of his behaviour, of his demeanour – for about ten minutes I watched him, as I read the lines of a play I was preparing – the lines were from Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’ – somehow, the lines and the being of that young man become one – linked, joined, formed – hard to explain – but the young man and the lines, for a weary me, became all that I was missing, not only on that sweaty half-journey, but in life itself – that certain care for the details of life, and language – that knowledge of one’s duty, one’s journey – I drifted off to sleep, only to awake when the train lurched to a final halt at Ramnagar – the young man was not around, and I left my two pillows as neatly as I could on the lower berth – knowing that he would appreciate that – then the real world struck again – there was no one to meet me at Ramnagar station to take me on to Naini Tal – the sweaty irritation returned, but with just a tinge of understanding and restraint – because of that early morning rhapsody in the Ramnagar bogey of the Ranikhet Express --