The 0555 train to Ella

Monks. Chanting in the background; dawn falls upon Colombo.
The fruit stall vendor. Having been there all night, surrenders to a good bargain on his oranges.
Colombo fort train station. A quiet bustle of activity. Locals and tourists yawning to their early morning decisions.
Train to Ella. Proclaiming it’s arrival, fresh and ready to take on the rushing passengers.
Seat no. 36. Aisle seat, although earlier requested for a reserved window seat.
Seat no. 35. Window seat, vacant up till Kandy.

The window. Like television, drama and comedy against the backdrop of the tropics, passing with time and space.
Morning mist. The sun rays hitting on nature, the mist carrying its reflection. Morning has broken.
A rush of tourists at Kandy. Sri Lanka train ride, no more.
The conductor. Doing his job; a strict disposition, demanding passengers to sit where they belong.
Samosas. Soft, mildly spiced potatoes on the inside, crisp on the outside. Perfect snack for a train ride.
A father and his son. Father carries son’s bag to seat number 35. A shift to 36. A look on the father’s face as his boy says goodbye.
A curious passenger. Asking the son where he is off to. 3 stops before Badulla, for an interview with the army, he says.
The son. Looking out the window as the train makes the climb. The tea plantations, the onlookers waving hello, the strength of the mountains. Preparing him for his interview.

A tea picker. Hanging on to her basket with her head. Keeping focused on the 1.4kg daily quota and the resulting wage of LKR 700.
Hot milk tea. Savoring, with the cold climate.
Ella. 9 hours has passed. Hello again and how much you’ve changed. Time for a good stretch!

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