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Changing Trains
by Jaideep Mujumdar
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  Iron wheels screech on iron rails
Jolting so many thoughts from their place
The man by the window wakes up, as though on cue

That loving couple there breaks their embrace
The business section of that newspaper gets folded up neatly
The others get thrown aside
The actor by the door stops memorizing his script

Some books get bookmarks, others have their pages dog-eared
The conductor mumbles an announcement
Something about where you are now and where you can go from here.

You walk out, a small flight of stairs and there you are
An underground maze, the novices who actually read the signs,
And the veterans who know their direction, or so they think
And some people around who are in no rush to go anywhere

The big lady with a sonorous voice stands next to a pillar
Reads aloud from the Bible doing the Lord’s noble work
Supplying snippets of salvation for scurrying sinners

A blue-eyed, shaven-head, Hare Krishna gentleman there
Chants his mantra, greets everyone with folded hands
Trying to sell detachment and selfless action to all of us who are busy
Running to amass more and still more of pleasure and pain

The homeless man with all of his treasure in three plastic bags
Sleeping peacefully next to a small sign that says
If you could find it in your heart to spare some change

The group of three musicians playing on their flutes and guitars
Oblivious of all around, except that young girl
Who almost stepped on their song
In her hurry to get to the exit first

You walk on, down another flight of stairs
The familiar screech again, just in time, you think
Or you would have wasted two whole minutes, with nowhere to rush to

As you wait on the platform, brightly lit windows sweep across your eyes
You look in, where have you seen this scene before, you wonder
That man just wakes up, that woman puts away her make-up kit
That girl there shuts her book, that tourist there stops peering at his map…

Oh enough already, just get in and go, next stop 23rd street!

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February 13, 2005
More By: Jaideep Mujumdar
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