Cinemat(rain)ography / by Admin

The train put its long aging body in motion about an hour ago. 30 hours from Mumbai to Varanasi Junction. 29 hours or so to go. Me, myself and the rest of the Indian travellers embarked on a journey through India from West to East, and slightly up North. I woke up at 4 am last night, surprisingly clear at such an early hour, the middle of the night really. But I shouldn’t be too surprised as my sleeping patterns have been all over the place since I arrived. Jet-lagged, that’s how it’s called. There were some nights without sleep at all. Some where I woke up at 3 or 4 am (I didn’t go back to sleep, my day literally started at that time), and then other nights where I slept for 12 hours in a row, to compensate I guess. So I woke at 4 and now that I’m drinking Nick’s strong and delicious Lavazza espresso (yes, this is Mumbai…), I start wondering if Setsh is really going to be here at 5:30 as he promised. Actually, it’s the 400 rupees I said I will pay him for the ride that made him promise. But still, the young man dropped us home at about 10:30 pm or so and he had already been working for the whole day, and he still needed to drive back the car all the way from Bandra to Colaba, which will take at least another 45 minutes if not an hour. So, I’m a little worried, slowly waking up to my senses in the middle of the moist Mumbai night… My phone rings. It’s Setsh! He’s already downstairs, 30 minutes in advance.

So I made it on time at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (the train station), because Setsh was on time, early actually. Now the day has risen, but it does not make much of a difference for me. First, it has been raining since we left Mumbai, non-stop, a steady outpour of Monsoon rain. Second, and actually more interestingly to me, I ended up inheriting what I found out to be the only yellow(-ish) colored window of the wagon. It did not seem like a big deal at first, but this yellow is actually going to color my whole train journey through the subcontinent. I start by sitting on what will soon become my bed for the next day or so. I look at India passing in front of me through the yellow-colored, widescreen shaped window I got for myself, only for myself. And I start to think that yes, it is indeed India, but an India from after the nuclear holocaust. That is really all I can think about right now. All the different landscapes we travel through actually look different, if it were not for the fact that the bomb has done its work of destruction and no life will ever be able to live again in this land. I mean, that is what my divagating mind comes up with after looking at this dirty yellowish world for a few hours now. But then, in the middle of these considerations about the end of the world and the extend of the radiations, I come to think that there is indeed some hope. Beside my window being the only (for whatever reason) colored one, it also has an extra feature, an almost magical one… between the two glass panels that make the window and isolate you from the outside, well, between these two panels, there is water. Yes, water. It took me a bit of time to realize, but it is actually water and it is filling the space between the two glass panels up to a third of the height of the window itself. I’m amazed, fascinated now. I had never seen such a wonder in a way, a private aquarium enclosed inside a train window. And the whole thing literally moving through a continent. It is beautiful to see the water slowly and smoothly undulating through the window, a counterpoint to the shaky, coughing movement of the train. And suddenly, as we dive even more into the heart of the land, I start imagining that maybe some fishes will soon appear in the water, literally swimming their way through the landscape made of mountains, fields, forests, all wonderfully and strikingly green (and yellow of course, so almost blue…) because of the Monsoon rain. I also imagine that life will start again in this pool of water, now that everything has been destroyed on the surface. It will be full circle. It would make such perfect sense. So I close the curtains of my berth, lay on the bed and let myself slide into my own private away from home cinema. There is just me now, laying along the window that is as long as I am tall and as high as my little compartment. So that is all there is really, the yellowish moving image and my own daydream, raindream, to the rhythm of the old shaky train.

And after a while, my perceptions become thoughts and memories. So I think of La Jetée, that my wife made me watch for the first time, for the post-nuclear world; I think of the 12 Monkeys, for the same reason, and also because I’m on my way to Varanasi, home of the monkey god. I remember also Kusturica and his American dreamers for the fishes floating in the air; I think of Fellini, and I start remembering, all by myself, and in the middle of the world, surrounded by lone businessmen and whole families, I start remembering on my way to the city by the Ganges, with the stories from Satjavit Ray in my bag, I start remembering why I was 14 years-old one day, 20 years ago now, and wanted to make films. I think of this young teenager, this child really, going to the old rundown and oh-so uncomfortable cinemas of the Quartier Latin in Paris to discover old films by the American masters, forgotten Italian films of the fifties and sixties with the worst prints ever, and the New Wave, again, and again, and again the New Wave. And I keep looking at the water inside my window, thinking of the wave. And then it’s here, right in front of me, or more precisely inside of me, I see a time when it really only was about daydreaming, raidreaming, nightdreaming, sexdreaming and dreaming and dreaming this world, its possibilities and shortcomings. And then, in the privacy of my compartment, curtains shut, moving window on the world, I tell myself as I slowly fall asleep, rocked by the movement of the train, images and memories real and invented populating my mind, I silently tell myself that when I grow up, I will be a filmmaker.