Life is a journey – destinations are not milestones. Train journeys are part of our journey of life, stations mark destinations where we either exit or enter during journey. Siva Sadasivan, in his book “Riding God’s Axe”, narrates his travelogue across the stretch where Parasurama’s axe travelled to create God’s Own Country.
Sandwiched in the sixth chapter of the eleven narrates the journey by Parasuram Express that run between Mangalore and Nagercoil that connect three states. Mesmerized like the writer I too felt the cool breeze bringing with it a salty twang as I glided past the pages. Feelings are integrated in to the journey with a timeless, space-less and endless weave in a style that captured my imaginative mind to curious tit-bits that I used to enjoy as a traveler when the engine used to have two men one the driver and the other fireman.
Travel through Kerala – a mix and match of nature, people and cultures, is one where tourists flock in from abroad as well from India. The story is a scramble of people on railway tracks – as you listen to the chirps of birds as well as heated communications by co-passengers. It starts with the journey way back with whistles of the steam engine. It narrates what happens now when most or a majority of passengers are glued to their cell phones, not really aware of the scenes, messages and learning that one can capture as they travel – a miss for many written well here.
The way the author combed varied episodes of his journey that links religious and remote places in his travelogue is an enriched elixir to consummate nostalgia. Vivid with élan, simple and gigantic at the same time, the sounds of tea sellers on platforms with added spice of positive criticism of the Railway management. This book comprises both a text and texture to appreciate details; provide a glimpse of most of the things we otherwise would have missed to notice. As we journey past on the tracks that are parallel – an un-parallel attempt is visible as recreation. First I read it as a glimpse past like I read on a Kindle, but the bound volume sketched with so many details, I re-read many pages.
Then I felt the aroma of spices of food on some pages as the writer brings in taste of the three states he travelled across. The other revelation to me was about the Classes, I used to travel – third Class in the railways (now defunct) and conveniences enhanced.
In a nut shell – the train moves and it looks, you too are a co-passenger with him – Sitting closer to the window, looking through the passing shades and colors of nature, people and places. I enjoyed my time crisscrossing as the driver whistled and Siva Sadasivan hand held me with him.