For the last few months I’ve been curious about the many inaugurations by the Prime Minister of the Vande Bharat trains, and decided yesterday I’d travel in one of them from Goa to Mumbai.

The train came in late from Mumbai, and so the cleaners made us wait on the platform. Two of them cleaned the dusty windows outside, but only the window glasses of the Executive Class. When I finally sat on my seat, I found that the food tray was permanently on my lap. I told the TC that I would be happy if it could go back to it’s place and he agreed and told me the maintenance people would fix it in a few minutes. Well, in the eight hours I sat in the train, the food tray seemed quite comfortable on my lap.

The train swayed and shuddered from side to side, and I’m sure at the end of the journey many shippies from Goa going to join their ships in Mumbai, must have thanked their stars for the intense practice sessions they received even before they went out to sea.

And as I tried to doze off with a tray that loved the comfort of my legs and a seat that refused to go back, storyteller that I am, I thought of an emperor of long ago, who loved new clothes and decided to stitch himself another set of new ones.

It was said, he spent most of his kingdom’s money on clothes.

One day, he decided to stitch clothes that had never been stitched before and employed two weavers who said they could produce cloth from a formula they had read in ancient books. The clothes made from this wonderful cloth he was told would be invisible to everyone who was unfit for the job he held, or who did not believe in the beliefs of the emperor.

On the day of the procession, the Emperor walked through the streets of his capital. All the people standing by, and those at the windows, cried out, “Oh! How beautiful are our Emperor’s new clothes!

Suddenly a little boy cried out, “But the Emperor has nothing at all on!” The Emperor was upset, “I will behead anyone who says I have no clothes on!” he shouted and continued walking and the people were too afraid to tell him that the little boy was right.

I sat in the Vande Bharat train with the tray fixed on my lap, some dhal which the food man had spilled on me when the train had lurched, and with a seat unable to go back. The dusty windows didn’t allow me to see where I had reached.

The TC smiled at me, “It’s an excellent train, what progress we have made!”

 “I smiled and said fearfully and dutifully, “What beautiful clothes the emperor is wearing..!”

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.