‘Could you please hurry up Stuart? I have to catch a train to Vancouver. It leaves in half an hour’ I said glancing at my wristwatch.
‘Oh! don’t worry sir, I have never been late to the destination for any passenger. Surely you will reach in time and board the train.’ Stuart said rather jokingly.
On any other day, I could have taken the light humor with alacrity, but today it seemed as if I was in deep trouble. The train was one of the last trains to Vancouver tonight and with the high demand for season tickets, I would not have other alternatives.
Canada’s charm in the winter season is unique in many ways. Gazing outside the window, I saw the streets covered in fresh snow. The shops and restaurants exquisitely decorated in glittering lights and neon signs.
People dressed in Sweaters, Jackets, and Cardigans. As the night was falling in, the crowds getting busy shopping and merrymaking.
I noticed Stuart was trying hard to drive through the maze of vehicles. He shrewdly maneuvered through the traffic and kept honking incessantly to ease his way through, yet it seemed a futile exercise.
Loud music blared from different corners of the streets and the festive vibes made Stuart’s fellow drivers rather laidback in their driving style. I heard Stuart cursing under his breathe against the traffic tonight.
I was still a couple of Kilometers away from the station and the train was to leave in fifteen minutes.
‘Damn, I should have left my home early. I should have packed my things beforehand rather than fidgeting at the last moment’. I loathed myself.
Luckily as the taxi exited the city center, the traffic and the crowd thinned out. Stuart gave a childish grin when he saw the empty stretch of road ahead in the Massachusetts Avenue and sped away towards the station.
Finally, after what seemed like eons, I reached the Union station of Toronto.
It had the usual and discernible hustle of any railway station.
The snowfall complimented the glittering decorative lights of the station giving a rich hue of colors on the facade.
‘Thank you, Stuart, for dropping me off in time.’ I said
‘Oye, no problem sir, it’s my profession. Now, don’t you waste any time and immediately board the train. It would be a pity if you miss the train now.’ Stuart said in his usual humor.
‘Surely I would.’
I glimpsed at the clock tower it was 10:55 P.M, only five minutes are left for my boarding. Dashing through the entrance I saw the Train information board. My train was to depart from platform number six and I was at the platform number one.
‘Damn !! now I have to cross another set of obstacles to reach my train.’ I thought to myself glancing at the crowded railway station.
‘I ran with a horse like swiftness, dodging through the scores of people who seemed to stand still like statues in a museum. I almost collided with an old lady but managed to balance myself. I crossed three platforms and began to breathe heavily.
Beads of sweat trickled down my forehead. The cold air made breathing much more difficult. I looked at the time and it was three minutes to departure. I increased my sprint and ran like it was an Olympic event.
Finally, I reached my train and boarded the first compartment that came to my sight.
I drank some water and took a momentary pause. Amidst all the hustle I had forgotten my coach number. I checked my ticket, it was mentioned
C-4 which was three compartment away. I trudged my way along the compartment and the connecting vestibules to finally reach my coupé.
My co-passenger was already occupied in his seat. As he saw me standing near the door with a wrinkled shirt and my panting breath he couldn’t withhold giving me a puzzled look.
Being fatigued by all the hustle I reflexively responded to him with a wry smile. As soon as I settled into my berth, the train took a jerk and chugged forward.
I glanced out the window as the Union station of Toronto disappeared from my sight.
I glanced at the interiors of my coupé. It was a two-passenger coupé with a large panoramic window and two large seats which also served the purpose of bed. A luggage holder is provided on top of each berth. There was a minibar, a couple of wardrobes and some bed lamps. As I was admiring the quality and aesthetics of my coupé, a coach attender arrived knocking at the door.
I slid open the door and a young man dressed in a maroon colored suit paired with black pants greeted me with a hospitable smile usually seen among air hostess.
‘Hello gentlemen, I am James the attendee of this coupé. I am delighted that you have chosen this train for your journey to Vancouver. Did you both gentlemen have your dinner ?’ the coupéman asked with a voice of professional repertoire.
‘I certainly had my dinner. Thank you !’ I replied.
‘I too have finished my dinner !’ my co-passenger said in a polite way.
‘Very well then, If you need anything just press the caller button on the right side of your bed. Breakfast would be served tomorrow morning from 7 A.M onwards. I would come at 6 A.M to take down your orders. Is there anything else you would like to ask ?’ James inquired.
‘Nothing for me James, I am all good. I would ask your service if needed. Thank you’ I replied.
‘Well! I need another pillow.’ asked my co-passenger in a typical Canadian slang which was contrary to his Asian looks. ‘This one is too soft and gets compressed easily.’
‘Surely sir, I will fetch you another pillow’ James replied and hurried off to the storeroom.
‘Hello there, I am Ishwar Thakore. Nice to meet you’ my co-passenger introduced himself giving a hand.
‘Hello, I am Jack William. Nice to meet you too.’ I replied and shook hands with him.
‘Travelling to Vancouver ?’ Ishwar inquired.
‘Yes to Vancouver. What about you? I asked.
‘Me too. Have to attend a family event of a close friend of mine’.He replied.
His voice had a kind of professional tone and his body language was very formal and his actions seemed to be pre-determined.
I made a guess that he was perhaps an investment banker or an attorney.
He had a pair of luxury suits hanging near his wardrobe.
He wore an Audemars Piguet and had neatly groomed brown hair with a trimmed beard.
‘Good good! I replied. I am off to attend a writer’s summit in Vancouver.’
‘Oh, so you are a writer. That’s nice.’ he replied, slowly removing his spectacles.
‘I always admire artists especially writers. They create stories from their imagination and immerse the reader into a parallel world.’ Ishwar replied gazing outside the window.
‘Thank you for your appreciation towards writing.’ I replied with a smile. ‘Though writing may seem serene for a layman, it is quite challenging.
Sometimes you get lost of ideas, many a time you face rejection from editors, agents, and publishers. And the most dreadful thing is encountering the “writer’s block”.’
‘Have you heard of “writer’s block” ?’ I inquired Ishwar hesitatingly.
‘When a writer gets lost in the middle of the story or perhaps… sometimes lack the motivation to finish the novel. Is that correct?’ replied Ishwar with an inquisitive look.
‘Yes, exactly.’ I said.
‘So what genres do you write in ?’
‘I prefer to write fiction which a common man can easily relate to.’ I replied
‘Have you published any of your works yet ?’ Iswar inquired.
‘Well, I have published some short stories and articles for local magazines. I have recently started writing since the past year or so. I still need to learn the nuances of fiction writing. That’s why I am going to the Vancouver writer’s summit.’ I replied.
‘Hmm…Ok..Ok..’ Ishwar seemed to ponder deeply about what I had said.
After a while, James steered into the coupé with a pair of pillows for Ishwar. Ishwar adjusted his pillows to see whether they were to his comfort or not.
‘Yeah, this seems good. The pillows are now perfect for a night’s sleep’ Iswar said assuringly.
‘Are you sure sir ?, if needed I can bring you another pillow.’ James inquired.
‘No thank you, James. This will do good.’ Iswar replied assuringly.
‘Ok then gentlemen, I assume you both need nothing else at this moment? I would take leave if you oblige.’ James inquired.
‘Yes thank you, James, for your help. Good night’ said Ishwar.
‘Good night James’ I replied.
‘Good night sirs. May you have sweet dreams.’ replied James and slid the door shut.
‘Well then, I am off to sleep. Too tired with the hustle of the day. Goodnight’ I said with a smile to Ishwar.
‘Yes sure. I too am off to sleep. See you tomorrow morning. Good night.’ Iswar replied.
I was eager to know what the next day morning would be having in store for me. With tiredness wearing me in, my eyes felt heavy and I drowsed off to sleep in no time.