Monday, November 24, 2008

Tracks of Change

If I had to mime a train's action, I'd place my palm vertically against my nose and go Koo jhik jhik jhik, picking up tempo with the jhik jhiks and putting all my energy into going KOOOO in a quick regression to childhood and train games of travelling to exciting destinations.

I sometimes wonder how kids growing up in the age of electric trains will represent trains.

A cousin's memories of childhood train rides brought back to me the wonder trains had once been. The longest train ride I ever took was 2 nights and 3 days from Delhi to Vishakhapatnam. My brother, 2 years old then, was petrified when the train let off its first hoot and refused to get in. Once in, he looked around and asked, "Where did the train go?" And so began a long journey where we even played cricket with a plastic bat & ball in the corridor.

Much later a huge group travelled to Chennai for a wedding, and my cousin and I could barely chat over the collective Mukharji/Banerjee/Sen snores that erupted all around us once night fell. Afraid that other passengers would ask us to tell our family to hush, we quickly pretended to fall asleep ourselves!

Nowadays the most train travel happens when we go to Shantiniketan from Kolkata. The first time, we went in an unreserved compartment because Singur protests in December '06 delayed our travel. We listened to bauls and also bought the famous "Joynogor-er Moa" from a vendor who boarded the train. The moas were had and we began dissecting how it didn't quite taste too good and my poor mother-in-law tried to defend her enthusiasm by saying they no longer tasted like they used to. At that point the gentleman who had been hanging on to the overhead rail near our seat with one hand and picking his nose with the other chose to inform us that these weren't the genuine article anyway and the real stuff would come a few stations later.

Last year, at Agra station I had occasion to peer in through much-tinted windows at the hyped Palace on Wheels. While I've never travelled in that much luxury, I certainly am tempted to try and plan a long train holiday to someplace to recapture some of that laidback travel. Yes, the toilets may be a deterrent and I may control my beverage intake to counter that, but I think it would be worth it for a bit of time-travel!

4 comments:

Suku said...

i love train journeys...so much better than flying...i cant stand planes!!!
we actually went on a train journey while in India two months ago...it was absolutely wonderful...my kids loved it..there first real train travel!

eve's lungs said...

I used to like trains at one time - but now train journeys are limited to overnighters or Santiniketan . But yes as a student - Lucknow to santiniketan via Burdwan was fun !
BTW - posted :)

dipali said...

Trains are fun. But now seem a bit tiring!
We did loads of Delhi-Lucknow and Delhi-Chennai and a couple of times the really really long Lucknow-Kochi and Delhi_Kochi trips in earlier days.
My latest was just this month- Rajdhani to Delhi from Kolkata. Not bad at all.
Had to fly back, though.

tagore town times said...

Very well written enjoyed it thoroughly..on this topic on trains I get so trapped in those yester years that cannot judge what to write what to leave..."kya bhooloon kya yaad karoon" like H.R Bachchan !