Yatra Diaries: All Aboard

Photo of Yatra Diaries: All Aboard by Saanya Gulati

Exhausted. Exhilarated. Enriched. A 15-day expedition across the Indian subcontinent comes to an end. Yet in some ways, the journey has just begun.

An experience that transcends logic and rationality: how do 400+ individuals live, sleep, bathe and eat on a train? Then again, the act of voluntarily choosing such circumstances is perhaps irrational.

Does the locomotive run on steam or electricity? It runs on the energy of Indian youth. Energy that seizes every opportunity to break into spontaneous song and dance, and engage in endless chatter. Such is the power of music in a land as diverse as ours. But, will this energy be channeled toward something more meaningful?

Our journey takes us to Madurai in the South, to Delhi in the North, Orissa in the East, and Tilonia in the West. We interact with visionaries who are spearheading solutions to some of India’s biggest crises in healthcare, sanitation, energy and education. Innovation and efficiency are the hallmark of many visits. Others invite skepticism, for even the most exemplary business leaders are ultimately human. Interact, but introspect. Take inspiration, but remain open to improvement. A similar philosophy applies to the act of sharing a 38-sq foot living space with seven newfound siblings.

As the train finds its rhythm on the tracks, its passengers find solace in the patterns that come to define the journey. Waking up at 6 AM for the rarity of hot water, or the scarce charging point, only to find out that your arrival is delayed by three hours, or that your phone has no service. Unpredictability becomes another way of life, for nothing about this journey is ordinary. Our vehicle accommodates to the schedule of trains across the country. As we learn respect our nation’s time, we come to value the time we have to learn from each other. Our backgrounds and beliefs are diverse, but our desires and determinations are common: to explore, to absorb and to act.

“In every country’s life, a generation has to sacrifice their lives, so that coming generations can have a better one.” – Kim Woo Chong, Founder-Chairman of Daewoo Corporation

Can we be that generation?

This is the second part of #YatraDiaries, a mini-series chronicling my 15-day journey on the Jagriti Yatra, 2015. Read part 2 here.

Jagriti Yatra is an ambitious train journey of discovery and transformation that takes hundreds of India’s youth on a 15 day, 8000 km national odyssey to meet diverse social and business entrepreneurs in the country. Their vision is to build India through enterprise. As a Yatri-2015, I will be chronicling snippets of my journey in a blog series called Yatra Diaries.

This post was originally published on 'Saanya Gulati'.