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Tangents and Train Trips

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
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    Hello R³,

    Thank you for expanding on the “Quelle” and “kel” factor. Very interesting for me. You see when I dreamt about “Quelle”, I had never heard of the word “Quelle”, and here I was on various train stations, and each station was named “Quelle”. Could not get that name out of my head for days.

    “The Q source (also called Q document, Q Gospel, or Q from German: Quelle, meaning “source”) is a hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus’ sayings (logia). ” So, I am going to look for the Q Gospel, and  read Jesus’ sayings. Maybe I’ll find some meaning there.  About  Middle Low German kel (a field name denoting swampy land),  or from kelle ‘steep path’, ‘ravine’ (see Kelle). Well, it was not a  swampy path, nor a steep one, nor a ravine —  each and every station was all white sand with a white Railway Name Board.






      just some additional associations and musings that come to mind.

      ”Where did The Book of Kells get its name? The book gets its name from the monastery of Kells, County Meath, Ireland. The book is believed to have been brought to Kells following a Viking raid on the monastery on the island of Iona, Scotland, in 806.”

      ”Kells or Ceanannas Mór in Irish meaning ‘Great Fort’ was a Celtic Royal residence before St. Columcille founded a monastery in the 6th Century. The monks from his community on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland moved to Kells in the 9th century to escape savage Viking raids.”

      The Book Of Kells is depicted on the cover of Joseph Campbell’s book “ A Skeleton Key To Finnegans Wake”

      Of course these are just poetic associations that can only have meaning in the minds of those who attribute and seek them. It is lots of fun for me ! These are all tentative referential tangents . Thank you for bringing them to my mind !

      I have an ongoing poetic entendre infatuation with vehicles or vessels of conveyance of which trains are one. I enjoy musing on the evolution of the transportation of the spirit of life. From the origins to the  present and on to the future. From Light (all hail the personification of sunlight in Solar deity myths) to mineral to the Miller–Urey experiment to vegetable then animal kingdom. The economy of life on planet earth truly is solar. From the African great Rift Valley. We walked we swam we rode animals we created chariots boats ships Coaches trains automobiles planes rockets drones civilizations . The spirit traveled through concretized forms of flesh and machina. Lots of fun to conflate.

      Also kel (a field name denoting a swampy land) brings to my mind Moses conveying the mixed multitude the children of Israel across the Red Sea or Sea of Reeds.


      Thank you dear R³ (R-cubed) so if the value of R = zero, then you could be Triple R?

      More than Kell or Quell, the name R³ fascinates me. What is the background to this name?

      You wrote, “I have an ongoing poetic entendre infatuation with vehicles or vessels of conveyance of which trains are one. ” I have a fascination with trains too, but mostly the trains and travel style inherited by India-Pakistan — legacy of the British Raj, not the India-Pakistan style where passengers are packed like sardines.  I wrote a story about my life growing up in the Railway system of the late 50s early 60s. I’ll attach it as a PDF here. These days much is being written about “Taxilla”, the town that was our family’s weekend destination.

      Ok, no PDF options here, so I’ll paste a few paragraphs from my railway journeys:


      Over the years, I have travelled long distances and also short distances, high speed (TGV) and also not so high speed. Some train journeys were made for pleasure and some for work, some to meet friends and relatives and some to bid them adieu, but, my Pindi train journeys transcend them all.

      A posting at the Rawalpindi Offices of  Pakistan Western Railways (PWR) was a Railway officer’s  dream.  Among many other perks, the posting guaranteed a Railway Saloon, also known as “home on wheels” for travelling all parts of the country, wherever railway lines and steam engines could go.

      Rawalpindi Train Station

      Senior Officers were allocated air-conditioned  saloon cars with bedrooms (at least two), two bathrooms, a dining area complete with china, crockery and cutlery, which converted to a drawing room, during the day.  Beyond the bathrooms were two sleeping alcoves, one for the onboard-cook and the other for chaprasi,  their private toilets, and a kitchen fully equipped with old cast iron cooking stoves and  oven — legacy of the British Raj.  Some Senior Officers shared their Saloons.

      My father ‘s  job came with two small private saloons, one for the narrow-gauge and one for broad-gauge, both for my father’s exclusive  use.  The smaller saloons were not air-conditioned, and immensely uncomfortable to travel during hot summer months, but autumn and winter guaranteed, unconditionally, some heavenly travels.

                           The broad-gauge saloon for my father’s tours and our weekend or holiday trips was Saloon Number 245, size of a large studio apartment with a bathroom, attendants’ sleeping alcoves and another tiny toilet, and a kitchen. Besides the dedicated Saloons, PWR, also provided a parking spot, known as a railway siding, which was about 1/3rd of a mile from our front gate, near the Power Station. To board our saloon, and head out of Pindi towards Peshawar, while stopping at various small and large railway stations, required that we walk out through the front gate of our house on Westridge Road, board our saloon, which stood just 1/3rd mile down the road at its special railway siding along the road.  Soon a steam engine would arrive, attach itself to the saloon, and then pull us out of the siding onto the main railway lines, leading to the Rawalpindi Railway Station. There it would attach the saloon to either a fully packed passenger train or a goods train (freight train).  And the operation would be reversed for our return journey, that is, the saloon would be detached from the train at the  Rawalpindi Railway Station, pulled off the main railway lines, and installed along Westridge Road’s Railway Siding.

      Our railway journeys took us through rich wheat fields,  villages, flowing rivers, dark tunnels and  bridges.  Sweet and gentle  villagers herding their goats, tending their livestock, using water wheels to irrigate their land and perhaps fetch water for personal consumption. Such were some of the sights that played peek-a-boo, as our train travelled from Rawalpindi to Nowshera and Peshawar on the western tracks.

      Weekends and holidays from September through March, involved train journeys through cosy villages infused with sweet scent of toasted green chickpeas (chanas), dried apricots from Afghanistan, other dried fruits and apricots that overflowed push carts (rehri?) and took over the oily-smoky scent of our freight train.  Pleasant scenes and sad scenes all came and went like a kaleidoscope in motion.  There were sad and sorrowful times of flooded mud-huts, with villagers and livestock swimming together, as if to say,  “ we are coming to the same oasis for rest and rescue”  Young boys and girls  waving at the train, wondering whether the engine driver and the few passengers(us) were part of a rescue mission.

      At the train station, the conductor and the engine driver exchanged personal and non-personal information with local vendors and service providers; documents and goods exchanged hands; sometimes in the dark of the night and sometimes during the early morning hours, or mid-day as our train moved along familiar railway stations.  There was much love and generosity in the hearts of these villagers. While loading their harvests, they smiled, graciously waved, and gladly sold us large baskets of plums, pears, apricots etc., (Rupee 1 for each basket) It’s almost impossible to describe the expression of joy that the fruit  exchange brought to their faces.

      “Taxila Junction”  was always  one place that our saloon rested. While my father worked, inspected and discussed freight trains signals and procedures, we toured the museum and its various sites. Another advantage of being the only passenger saloon on a goods train was that we did not have to pack up and get off at our destination. The engine driver, a guard, with a lantern  and the steam engine, handled all the  logistics.  In less than an hour, our saloon would be detached from the goods train, moved away from the main lines, and installed safely on the railway siding at the Taxila Station.

      All that which is on exhibit at the Taxila Musuem’s website is still fresh and alive in my memory bank–we saw the immensely rich gold-pieces, the iron tools, Buddha statues, spoons, plates, nails, keys,  art and art pieces, relics of  the period that people cross continents to see and admire.  





      Hope you both don’t mind, but the stream of consciousness has wandered far afield from a collection of “things Joseph Campbell never said.” Intriguing as the side discussion is, it defeats  the purpose of creating a collection of misquotes that people can use as a source if they have to wade through several unrelated posts – so I split the thread following Robert’s explanation of the associational patterns that sometimes make for cryptic posts, and created a new one focused on the fun conversation you’re having.

      What a wonderfully detailed memory, Shaheda!



        Such a wonderful enchanting life memory !!! Rails played a pivotal part in the growth of my country last century. They are part of the gilded age legacy with many folktales stories and myths attributed to them. I live in SouthFlorida we Had Henry Flagler that built the train tracks to Key West. Lots of romance and tragedy still in the public mind around here about his legacy. Great stories. We have recently completed a new passenger rail line called Brightline that travels from west palm beach to Miami . Lots of fun to ride . They have WiFi drinks and food. Will be adding a leg to Orlando soon. We are trying to green America with mass transit projects. Rails have always been part of the supply chain here. I love watching the freight and passenger trains go by. The main lines are less than a mile from my house.

        I am interested what does R³ mean to you ?







          have you read any Ayn Rand ? She is an author of note here. She used trains in her Novel Atlas Shrugged. Interesting book. Who is John Galt ? A gestalt of western imperatives ?


          R to the third power


            Rails trains the conveyance of objects property.
            the internet the conveyance of ideas intellectual property.

            What are your thoughts on objectivism ?

            Your links on Taxila are fascinating!!! Much is conveyed of the ancients through archeology and anthropology. Joseph Campbell had his unique finger on the pulse of theses disciplines in his time. It is interesting to read the narratives he created.



            Robert R Reister




              I found this.
              Stephen does the foundation have anymore information on Joseph Campbell and Taxila ??? I like that Shaheda’s link calls Taxila the Melting Pot .

              Four Aims of Indian Life (Audio: Lecture II.4.5)
              The first encounter of the West with this type of yoga was that of Alexander the Great. When he arrived in Taxila, in 327 B.C., he and his young officers heard that there was a school of philosophers just outside the town. And they determined to go pay a visit. That’s to say, the young officers did. They had all been students of Aristotle and Plato and so forth. And they thought they were going to have an interesting conversation with like-minded Oriental spirits.. — Joseph Campbell

              Joseph Campbell covers the four Aims of Indian life by sharing a series of ancient Indian tales. Each is as delightful, spellbinding and illuminating as the next. And with his expert interpretation as the elements are revealed, you get a unique insight into his mastery of the mythological material he explored throughout his life

              This lecture was recorded at the Asia Society in New York, NY in 1968.

              $5.99 – Add to Cart


              Hello R³ and Stephen,

              So very sorry to go on these tangents in the Quotes database, Stephen.  I don’t know how I did it, but will be mindful next time.

              R³, my very first thoughts on R³:  1. I thought  of a book I found many years ago in a book store called Double Day. It was a book of Mark Twain’s stories and essays, titled: “Mark Twain and the Three R’S: Race, Religion, Revolution – And Related Matters. Hardcover – October 1, 1973”

              So, at first I thought you had named yourself after that book, the one edited by Maxwell Geismer, who was Mark Twain’s biographer as well. Later, it came to me that you were one of the prolific writers on the Mythic Saloon. And now I know who you are. Thank you for the suspense. Thank you also for sharing Atlas Shrugged trailer and Arlo Guthrie’s song. No, unfortunately, I have not read Ayn Rand.

              On trains, I can think of a few great writers, one being Mark Twain, and the other being Edith Nesbit (children’s books, especially, The Railway Children). Mark Twain described Indian Railway Stations and the condition of the third class compartments in “Following the Equator, Volume 2” . Here is a passage on the Indian Trains (nothing like my experience) but of course a masterpiece description.

              “January 30. What a spectacle the railway station was, at train-time! It was a very large station, yet when we arrived it seemed as if the whole world was present–half of it inside, the other half outside, and both halves, bearing mountainous head-loads of bedding and other freight, trying simultaneously to pass each other, in opposing floods, in one narrow door. These opposing floods were patient, gentle, long-suffering natives, with whites scattered among them at rare intervals; and wherever a white man’s native servant appeared, that native seemed to have put aside his natural gentleness for the time and invested himself with the white man’s privilege of making a way for himself by promptly shoving all intervening black things out of it. In these exhibitions of authority Satan was scandalous. He was probably a Thug in one of his former incarnations.”


              The rest of this gem can be found above.

              “The Indian trains are manned by natives exclusively. The Indian stations except very large and important ones–are manned entirely by natives, and so are the posts and telegraphs. The rank and file of the police are natives. All these people are pleasant and accommodating. One day I left an express train to lounge about in that perennially ravishing show, the ebb and flow and whirl of gaudy natives, that is always surging up and down the spacious platform of a great Indian station; and I lost myself in the ecstasy of it, and when I turned, the train was moving swiftly away. I was going to sit down and wait for another train, as I would have done at home; I had no thought of any other course. But a native official, who had a green flag in his hand, saw me, and said politely:

              “Don’t you belong in the train, sir?”

              “Yes.” I said.

              He waved his flag, and the train came back! And he put me aboard with as much ceremony as if I had been the General Superintendent. They are kindly people, the natives”

              Please read this (if you have not read Twain’s Indian Train Journeys), because after this one, we can discuss Twain’s 1868 story “Cannibalism in the Cars,”  where he recounted a chilling tale he claimed to have heard from a United States congressman who had once been trapped onboard with 24 colleagues.”



              No worries, Shaheda – you didn’t post to the quote database, but you and Robert did wander down an interesting off-ramp into your own conversation in a thread I created here in COHO called “Things Joseph Campbell Never Said” – which I designed to cache sayings mis-attributed to Joe. Of course, part of the problem of a public forum is that any thread tends to take some intriguing twists and turns following off-topic tangents, which is part of the fun – but I’d like to keep that thread focused on the misquotes.

              However, I didn’t want to lose this dialogue between the two of you either, which merits its own thread. Hence the admin operation of “splitting” the discussion (first time I’ve done that on this message board – happy to see it works; I’m likely to do the same with Nandu’s discussion of where he disagrees with Campbell, separating his disagreements over Campbell’s view of India from his characterization of Campbell as a mystic, allowing for two separate discussions). We can think of it as switching a train onto a side-track to let another train pass.

              I do appreciate the train theme, which is very much part of the American mythos. Trains opened up the United States to settlement, accelerating the spread of the population from coast to coast, supplying towns founded in otherwise remote parts of the country, and powering trade.

              My wife, Des, loves trains – and then my mom was a Harvey Girl in La Junta, Colorado (Fred Harvey established  a chain of Harvey House restaurants at train stations in the 1880s designed to provide a hearty, wholesome meal to the passengers of a train in the barely  30 minutes they had at a train stop; Harvey Houses were staffed by young single women who lived on site in a special dormitory and followed strict rules of grooming, dress, and behavior). Harvey Girls were the subject of a popular Judy Garland musical of the same name – released a few years after my mom’s time wearing the apron; along with Pullman Porters, sleeping cars, and upper and lower berths, the Harvey House and their corps of waitresses are part of the romance of rail travel in the Old West.

              I have traveled by train across the southwest, and Des and I enjoyed a wonderful trip with our own little room many Christmases ago on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, traveling from the Bay Area up to Seattle past Mt. Shasta and through the beautiful snow clad mountains of northern California and Oregon on into Washington – much more leisurely and pleasant than the hassle of airport travel. We also have enjoyed more than our share of small touristy trains from days gone by, going places cars never go – whether just up the road from us in the Sierra Nevada foothills, along the Verde River Canyon in Arizona (saw a number of bald eagles on that trip), or, our favorite, the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad in the Rockies.

              What made that last trip so stellar is where we sat on the return: a local friend pulled a few strings for us, and we rode more than an hour on the outside platform at the front of the locomotive (which you can see in the photo below – alas, we don’t have a good one of us there), at over 10,000 feet elevation – quite a rush!

              Leadville Train

              And then I’ve hopped one freight, in Shelby, Montana, back in my hitchhiking days. Turns out you get very dirty traveling as a hobo – I much preferred hitchhiking.

              Though freight trains still play a major role in interstate shipping, seems travel by train, at least in the Western United States, is relative rare, thanks to our interstate freeway system – Americans like the independence of driving, so the car remains supreme.


              Hello Stephen,

              Thank you very much for sharing your personal train journeys on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, “traveling from the Bay Area up to Seattle past Mt. Shasta and through the beautiful snow clad mountains of northern California and Oregon on into Washington”.  Must be memorable indeed. Such a fascinating story behind “Harvey Houses” &   “Harvey Girls” for providing a hearty meals to the travelers.  Thank you for sharing your mom’s time as a Harvey Girl. The  Sierra Nevada foothills, along the Verde River Canyon in Arizona, Colorado and Southern Railroad in the Rockies are all on my to do list.   A friend and I planned on the Sierra Nevada Amtrak trip until Covid-19 came along. Just a week before the Canada-US borders closed, I did the Denver Rocky Mountain Getaway. Just beautiful.

              On the east coast, my last memorable Amtrak journey was on the Vermonter, which begins in Washington DC, and meanders through the Hudson Valley, the shimmering blue lakes, and the the most gorgeous Hudson River. It stops in St. Albans, Vermont, and then after a border check, the Train switches tracks, and engine driver + other staff,  to join the Canadian side of the railway line. From St. Albans, it’s just a 40 minute train ride into Montreal’s great  “Garre Central”.  Joe Campbell described Montreal’s underground train stations as “Alladin’s cave”. I am not sure exactly where I read this but I also met two individuals who said they attended his lecture, given on the campus of Lyolla College, Montreal. “What an amazing man, and what an awesome lecture”,  they said. Now I am going in tangents again!!

              “..we rode more than an hour on the outside platform at the front of the locomotive (which you can see in the photo below – alas, we don’t have a good one of us there), at over 10,000 feet elevation – quite a rush! ” I can just imagine! On that note, I have a recommendation, one place to visit and a must train trip to observe, nature’s granite mountains, the elevation, the rustic scenes, the deep lakes, the silent forests, the old fishing villages, fjords, waterfalls~~~~~ infinite beauty, is Norway’s Train Journeys, especially, Norway in a Nutshell – Fjord journeys.

              I do want to follow R’s(cubed) reference to Joe Campbell and Taxilla. Also, I want very much to read Nandu’s  discussion of where he disagrees with Campbell. Did he publish that piece? Here, we have so  much to read, digest, absorb, and engage.



              Hello R cubed,

              Thank you ever so much for the link to “Four Aims of Indian Life (Audio: Lecture II.4.5)”.  Interesting that Joe Campbell puts it this way, “They had all been students of Aristotle and Plato and so forth. And they thought they were going to have an interesting conversation with like-minded Oriental spirits.. — Joseph Campbell” I am going to listen to that Audio Lecture tonight.

              Indian historians say,  “After conquering the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, the Macedonian king Alexander, launched a campaign into the Indian subcontinent in present-day Pakistan, part of which formed the easternmost territories of the Achaemenid Empire following the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley (late 6th century BC). After gaining control of the former Achaemenid satrapy of Gandhara, including the city of Taxila, Alexander advanced into Punjab, where he engaged in battle against the regional king Porus, whom Alexander defeated in the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC,[1][2]”

              Another interesting tidbit from Wikipedia, “The Greek writers mention the priestly class of Brahmanas (as “Brachmanes”), who are described as teachers of Indian philosophy.[16] They do not refer to the existence of any religious temples or idols in India, although such references commonly occur in their descriptions of Alexander’s campaigns in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Iran. Greek accounts mention naked ascetics called gymnosophists. A philosopher named Calanus (probably a Greek transcription of the Indian name “Kalyana”) accompanied Alexander to Persepolis, where he committed suicide on a public funeral pyre: he was probably a Jain or an Ajivika monk. Curiously, there is no reference to Buddhism in the Greek accounts.[17]”  Taxila is chock full of Buddhist temples and stupas, so why was Buddhism not mentioned?




                That you for the Mark Twain (Death on the Missisliffi: Huckleberry Finn in Finnegans Wake) reference for R³ which I think is his allusion to the Three R’s of Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Gotta love American colloquialisms !!! I do enjoy multiple entendre. The Cubing of the sphere the squaring of the circle is also implied (The Cube the Coach with the sex insides) . Great mystical contemplations. Lots of fun ! There are more allusions and the number continues to grow with reading and reflection.

                No reference to Buddhism in the Greek accounts? Possible Alexander’s exploits made room for the explosion of Buddhism after he left. Check dates of inception and cross cultural pollination fertilization . Things always take time to grow to fruition. Cultural movements and conveyances included. Follow your rational logical Train of thought.

                .:. .:. .:. .:. .R³. .:. .:. .:. .:.

                Robert Raymond Reister


                “The three “R”s (as in the letter R) are three basic skills taught in schools: reading, writing and arithmetic (usually said as “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic”). The phrase appears to have been coined at the beginning of the 19th century.

                The term has also been used to name other triples

                The skills themselves are alluded to in St. Augustine’s Confessions: Latin: …legere et scribere et numerare discitur ‘learning to read, and write, and do arithmetic’.

                The phrase is first attested as a space-filler in “The Lady’s Magazine” for 1818. While it is sometimes attributed to a speech given by Sir William Curtis circa 1807, this is disputed. An extended modern version of the three Rs consists of the “functional skills of literacy, numeracy and ICT. (Information and communications technology).”


                Hello R³,

                Thank you so much for all the references and explorations of R³. Although, I am familiar with R³  — referring to Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic, the book Mark Twain and the three R(s) did consist of essays on Race, then on Religion and then on Revolution. Talking about race, there was an essay on racism in India because of the British. The scene is a  railway carriage, and the essay is, “Slavery by any other name”.  It was in “The Innocents Abroad”.

                I have not looked into “Aims of Indian Life (Audio: Lecture II.4.5)” just because there has been much to attend to but now I am ready to be spell bound by the stories that you say are ‘delightful, spellbinding and illuminating’ .







                Hello R cubed,

                Fascinating paranas! Each had me spellbound. I loved the Yogi with his 50 wives the best, but yes, Alexander’s men meeting the half naked sun worshippers was just super. Joe’s interpretation adds to the illuminating part. Thanks for enriching my world.



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