They stand there on those sides lined yellow,hustle bustle,roar and rush,glancing at the paper in those hands,flipping it and eyes searching the cabin, A,B or C and the seat within,the whistle blows, we on our toes, bags and cases dash, finding our numbers after that squash,there it hails ,coffee on sales,another hiss and few hot sips, some with eyes closed,some looking out,some in their silence and some laugh and shout.
This is what a train journey brings on! Memories and moments.
I have been doing these long journeys since my birth, obviously I don’t remember all of them but I have some of my dearest memories on these. My paternal and maternal families are settled in south of India and my dad migrated to the north for his future prospects. However he made sure that we were visiting our roots and families every year in the summer holidays and that called for 48 hours in a sleeper coach of Karnataka express . My dad would get a station booklet with all the stations ,Kms and timings- famously called as the train timetable- the Google and satnav of those times . Mum would be cooking for two days for those two days- parathas,currys,mithai,halwa,khakra,namkeen- packing paper plates,spoons,water jug,fruits and biscuits. It appeared like it was a train picnic. Me and my brother would pack all our train games and our favourite bed sheets. We carried an extra luggage to fit in our sheets,pillows and blankets. At every station dad hopped out of the train and we two trailed behind him,he bought us ice creams and poori bhaaji on the station. He ,of course knew what was famous on which station and we were ready to ask for things always. We travelled across half of India to reach our grand mom’s place. On the way we met different people,made friends,exchanged telephone numbers and I made most of my pen friends then on these journeys.
Once I left home started for my college I had to travel solo,again from south to north and return to see my three musketeers! I was 18 when I started enjoying the railway adventures on my own-48 hours without any food bags, extra wrap up luggage and company.
I grabbed my most memorable times on these ones. Often , I found a college tour gang, army troops and families going on holidays travelling along with me. Being a peoples’ person I ended up finding some good company to wind up my 48 hours and restored my memory box. Once I travelled with a big commerce college group from Bangalore, I was done with my college by then and they had just started.The enthu was on its high and the unmatchable spirits got me into mixed feelings. I was nostalgic about that one college to back home journey via Delhi with a gang of 35-music ,food,drinks,hands in hands,friendships brewing,break ups patching up – two nights on a wagon.
Not a penny in my hand ,not a shirt on my back . I am coming back home.
Some of my train journeys left me in a situation which I can relate to movies like Jab we met & DDLJ. I got down on Nagpur on my way back to make a phone call to dad. It was a busy station,vendors selling famous Nagpur oranges,Dinshaw icecream, and mags etc. I picked my favourite tuti frooti, stood on a STD booth, it rang and I started chatting. Soon there was a hand and a voice,” Behan ji , mere paise( my money) ?” I said with a frown,” Arey ! Baat toh karne do( let me talk!).” He smiled and replied,” Aapki train!( your train is leaving).” I was just 40kgs then, I ran and captured a hand. I was in, don’t know where but somewhere in my train. A sigh of relief and a thanks to the gentleman.
I still love those solo journeys. In the UK these journey are very comfortable,peaceful and short. They don’t hold the variety and the chaos but they take you away from life’s montony to the beautiful countryside, through green forests and bridges. Again reminding of the beautiful scenes from the movies and you are nearly in those destinations idealising your dream to travel these escapes! Nowadays , I listen to my favourite music on these short day trips,sip a mocha, write here and look around and inside me feeling the sanity and peace. Nevertheless ,the journeys help me realise I am blessed and I am seeing the best that is on this green planet.
I am sure each one of us have something to remind us about when we board a train,sit with that coffee and look outside the window. The busy strokes of life do not let us realise them but next time when you are sitting on that window do peep out of that little box you are into!
Until my next journey.:)