Just a minute to squeeze this in..., Uncategorized

Train of Thoughts…

I had to make a quick trip home. Like a really quick one. I took the first available and affordable flight! The flying time is an hour and a half and on most occasions, I sleep right after take-off, even before the cabin crew briefs us about the safety instructions (the constant hum of the engines puts me to sleep all the time).

I come from a modest background and flights were not even an option when I was growing up. We used to travel to Chennai to meet our relatives during the summer vacation. Navjeevan Express would escort us from Ahmedabad to Chennai over 2 days! This is how the journey unfurled over the two days.

In spite of my mother’s best efforts to pack our things efficiently, my father would be surprised at the amount of luggage. Our first task would be to adjust all of it below those filthy train seats before we sat down. The ‘window seat’ was my mother’s. No compromise. She would urge me to go sit on the ‘window seat’ on the other side. Urgh!!

As the train would start off, the growing excitement in our hearts would force a smile on our faces. Overjoyed screams and claps would escape me and I would stare out of the ‘window’ I had wanted to avoid earlier. The breeze would make my already difficult-to-control curls wild but it always felt nice.

In a couple of hours, I would get bored of the stations and roads and mountains and rivers we crossed. And I’d move to the top berth. As I sat there, I’d look down at the various vendors who carried tea, coffee, juices, water, cutlets, omelettes, fruit and all the junk you can imagine. And I ate and drank all of it. That awful tomato soup they served with extra bread crumbs was not to be missed!

The intimidating eunuchs got on at some stations and forced me to hide at the farthest corner of the top berth to avoid being seen by them. My father was always nice to them. He would talk to them, inquire about their health and then offer them food. They treated him nice too.

Conversations floated in the air and discussions took importance over vendors eventually. The smell of food wafted in the air as aunties opened their carefully packaged items. A game of cards here, a Housie there and the few songs everywhere…that’s what a train journey typically is.

While a two-day journey is reduced to a 2 hour flight, conversations decreased, food vanished and the excitement went out the window (after a couple of flights in life, of course!)…Sometimes I wish to travel in those old, non-AC, filthy trains all over again!

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21 thoughts on “Train of Thoughts…”

  1. The same Indian Railways escorted me to Chennai from Bangalore during the same part of the year as you mentioned in the post. How did we not meet each other then? Life’s destiny! โ˜บ
    Train journeys are fun! And your post reminds me of a scene from Anniyan movie, when the group sets its journey for “Tyagaraaja Araadanai”….. funny scenes…

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  2. Delightful Aishwarya! Love the play on the word ‘train’….a truly super ‘pun’. Thanks for those thoughts….memories can be so pleasing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hugs! โค

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    1. Thanks for being ever so generous with your love and your praise Bushka! ๐Ÿ™‚ My train journeys in England were as short as my flights in India so not much happened there! But these long journeys are simply amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I must mention here that the way you narrated our Navjeevan Express journeys, the way I never allowed anyone near that window seat, lot many eatables we bring / buy….. oh… we just can’t forget those pleasant journeys to Chennai. Even after travelling for almost 20 times in the same route, I never want to miss those rivers (Narmada, Tapi, Krishna etc.) and I immediately get up from my seat and see the entire length of the bridge……… Thanks for bringing those memories again….

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  4. This is beautifully written I could see what you saw. My parents divorced when we were young and we made the 10 hours journey between their houses by bus or trains over the years. My train wasn’t as fascinating as yours but I still enjoyed that way of traveling.

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    1. Long journeys with strangers is always fun… Even in buses, you can always observe people, the way they are dressed, the way they talk… People share anecdotes and chat away… It’s lovely! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope it’s on the list for Emily’s to -dos ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. I’ve taken Emily on a train ride but we had a private cabin. I won those tickets. The train leaves here at dinner time and arrived in Montreal just after breakfast time which didn’t allow for us to see much out of the window. I was quite disappointed by that. I don’t know if she would be able to handle the noise and smells and strangers walking by in a bus or train… We do travel by plane and cars and she loves it. She’s a good traveler

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  5. I’ve always loved travelling by the railways, brings to mind such wonderful memories. The strangers that become friends over time and of course the amount of junk food u get on the train, the different noises from babies crying to women gossiping, some passengers playing random music from their phone! Oh boy! So much of activity ๐Ÿ™‚
    Planes are boring but sometimes the best option when time becomes a factor

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