Train Affair

I am not a frequent train itinerant. I prefer road traveling while going to my native place or even for an assignment. But in my most recent visit to Nagpur I rediscovered the fun of traveling in train generating penchant of opting similar mode in future. It all began when I read Shobha Narayan’s Saturday column in Mint few days before. In her piece on Indian train, Shobha wrote: Every Indian has a train story involving food and characters. So I too tried to search for any such story to which I will be a party. Although I could not find so, I realized coming to Nagpur through train itself is an experience to recount as a story.

Even though the train on which I was traveling did not have an opulence of special dining coach like Deccan Queen, but me, my cousin, sister and other friends were never short of eating stuff. Food is an integral part of train journey and we did respect that in totality. When I told others that DQ is the first train in India to have such facility where one can sit on its antique dining table, read the fresh morning news papers and sip tea and coffee with cutlets, they all mourned for having not experienced such wonderful thing till now.

Though Our's wasnt a DQ, the stinky toilets, dust ridden passages, broken mirror were least dampening for me to enjoy the ride through this lofty creature. I always wonder how railway coaches remain fit even as thousands of people board it daily creating kiosk. I was envy to see the antique pattern robust switches even as it was creating uncouthly noise. I wish I would have them at our new flat offering uninterrupted, unending, undemanding service. Within half an hour I peeked outside the window and the next thing which occupied my mind was the ready to cut sugarcane laden fields. I considered farmers of western Maharashtra fortunate enough to have all necessary resources.

After an initial adjustment and readjustment we settled down, only to see a waiter was ready to take evening meal order. We all decided to respect his service and placed an order for food at five-thirty. Then slowly we became Sindhi and went on buying spree. We tasted almost all the stuff we saw entering in our coach. Opinion may vary but it was striking for me to feel railway food is more palatable than at other traveling mode. Every Indian station has its specialty of offering particular items, I too wanted to experience it, but the odd night hours did not permit me to do so. I regret I missed famous Kachori at Shegao station. In the meanwhile at Daund station Lalu’s profit making machine did surprise many when it began to retrace already crossed route. My bewildered sister started looking at me and cousin for answers. A terse explanation of “train will soon change its track here” finally satisfied her.

Indian railway is an amazing creature which never disappoints anyone anytime anywhere. I don’t understand how it was running in losses until recently when Lalu finally took the reign of this mechanical dragon. I also fail to understand what exactly Lalu has done to turn this into profit making business. I have been seeing same railway with same track offering same service to same never-ending rush on its same filth ridden bogies, yet it has become money-spinning. These and similar such thoughts began haunting me when I went to upper berth for sleep. The next morning was pleasant. After having cup of tea twice, we then came to door waiting to be dropped at Nagpur. The journey ended after some time but the mind was taken up with reminiscences of another train trip.

Thanks to my cousin on whose insistence I showed inclination to come with him for his engagement. This gave me an opportunity to revive old memories of long train journey. It was a great experience. From boarding a train at Pune railway station to just before Nagpur near Buti Bori when everyone of us thought our destination is just five minutes away from there and it took big halt, much to escalate the already soaring mercury within my cousin who was eager to meet his fiancée.

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