Railway stations, bus-stands and Airports – A beautiful paradox

‘You don’t leave without saying Goodbye’

I hugged my friend, maybe one last time before he left for his train to London. A day before he had messaged to tell us that he would be leaving for London because his internship commenced earlier than thought and due to such a short notice, he won’t be able to meet us before he left. I had other thoughts, and at 6:15 in the morning I did manage to reach the station and spend some last minutes and a final goodbye.
As I saw him leave, I was left with the same old taste of saying goodbye. Thankfully, there was no salt in taste in there this time. But it’s same, and it has been the same ever since I was a child.

I wasn’t an avid traveler as a child. My family and I would travel mostly to hill stations very near to my city and it would be mostly by car. But going to railway stations was a usual habit. My aunt (father’s sister) used to visit frequently from Delhi and when she would be returning, I and my father’s brother would go to drop her to the railway station. Going to see the train engine was a ritual for the little Kanav. Every time my aunt would leave, I would be left with a sad taste. The end of her visit would generally signal the end of vacations and the end of fun! Remarkably, growing up, the characters and the stories have completely changed but that sad taste has stayed with me, over almost 2 decades.

I left my city while I was 15. That has been the start of years of feeling sad at the railway stations for that would be where I would I say goodbye to my family. Then I got into my engineering school which was in Delhi and easy to access via bus. Well, no surprise then that the stage of sadness shifted from railway station alone to a mix of the railway station and the bus stand. Similar sad tastes, just a difference of seats. It was at that time that my role in goodbyes changed from the one departing to the one who was standing on the platform, seeing the train leave. That I met my then girlfriend on one such goodbye trip just made the bond with such places stronger. My first such encounter with an airport happened thanks to her when I visited her in Singapore and after 3.5 days left back for India. Although it wasn’t as painful for the next meeting was assured in a couple of weeks’ time. In all those years, the moments kept mounting up! The saddest of the lot was the final farewell on 17th May 2013, when a bunch of friends came to drop me with all my luggage and memories which I had gathered over the past 4 years.

All these years, the moments have just increased. Prominent among them will be the final farewell to my then girlfriend when she left Delhi, the farewell to my friends at IIM Lucknow, when I left for Paris, not once but twice, and countless times when I have left home, not knowing when the next visit was to be.  Paris has had its share of goodbyes already, Leo’s farewell the last to date.

But where is the paradox?

The paradox lies in the other side of these goodbyes – The welcomes and the welcome backs!

Over all these years, at the same stage where my heart has cried out several times, has it experienced a kind of joy which remains unparalleled till today. The first time I went to pick my then girlfriend from railway station after our vacation away, the joys of meeting friends in Paris over the last one year, waiting eagerly for them to come out from behind the gates. The smiles, the heart-warming hugs, and the kisses have all done their bit in making me wanting to be there, whenever it has been possible.

While I am at these places, I look at families, lovers, and friends parting and meeting. Despite being a total stranger to the situation, the raw emotions on display at such a time warms and melts me from inside. We live in a funny world. Emotions are becoming a little less of a thing if you ask me, at least the positive ones are. I, like others now prefer staying away from love and all such brain wrecking, life-wrecking feelings of the heart. But these stages, the airports, the railway stations, they make me feel these again, over and over. It is beautiful to see people kiss knowing that a next one will have to wait, or to see them squeeze out precious extra seconds in every hug and to see them being rendered helpless, either fighting tears or trying to contain their smiles. And it is this piece of beauty that keeps me going back to these places, to experience the beautiful paradox that they are!

A click from the first of the farewells’ from Lucknow



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