Travelling at Home


Home approaches.

My seat by the window allows me the rare opportunity of spotting something new on my daily commute in a suburban train. I see a rainbow at the brink of dissolution. I smile at my co-passengers; there is always the smallest of possibilities that they might want to witness this treat.

They are looking at their phone. A middle aged woman in a very tight dress sitting in front of me is scrolling away with some sort of vengeance. Rainbows must pale in comparison with life updates from acquaintances.

Suburban trains, by virtue of being able to go over ground unlike the tube, seem to be the perfect place for conversations about heartache and domesticity. Behind me, a girl is telling someone on the phone about her break up last weekend. Beside me, a couple in their late forties are discussing the replacement of their shower head. As majority of the train’s populace are trying to respect The Tacit Rule Of Being Quiet In A Crowded Train, these rule breakers amplify the atmosphere with mediocrity.

The train passes those familiar landmarks – the moss covered tunnel, the graffiti on the wall, the poppies by the tracks. It stops at my station. It’s a Friday evening and people are in a rush to go home. A group of people flock to the door and walk out.

I am still here, sitting by the window in a suburban train, leaving home behind.

A curiosity for what lies at the end of this train route overwhelms me and so I decide to go to the end of the route. I don’t know what I am going to find there or if I’m going to find anything at all. I give my heavy laptop bag a thought, but then I tell myself it is no different to the backpacks I take when I go hiking or traveling.

The train is almost empty. The rule breakers have left. All I can hear is the sound of the train on the tracks, as it passes suburb after suburb, each name more foreign than the other – Clock House, Elmer’s End, Eden Park. I feel like I have solved a big mystery from my daily life – this is where they all rush to every day after work – running on the escalators, trampling the feet of little old grandmas, presenting lost French teenagers who are in the way with dirty looks.

The last stop and my destination, is called ‘Hayes’. The next train in the other direction is in an hour. I walk outside. I discover a small park. Two boys are playing on the swing. Their friends are hiding behind the bush waiting to spring up on them and give them a fright. They gesture me to be quiet as I walk past.

I walk around this suburban haven for a bit, then I go and buy myself groceries for the weekend and start my journey back home.

I love taking suburban trains when I travel. After some culture hopping and sight-gaping, there is something quite humbling about being able to see that past all the high impact tourist spots, the cultural history and natural beauty of places, most people, after assisting in helping the society function or learning how they can contribute in the future, just want to get back to the homes they have worked hard to create for themselves.

Home approaches, again. There are times, when you don’t have to go very far to travel.

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