July 4, 2011
I simply love riding in the train. Every aspect of the journey starting from booking tickets to getting down at the destined station, usually Mangalore Central would be an experience of sorts for me. I don’t know how and why I love those long train journeys, but somehow they make me excited and in this article I would take you around my feelings towards train rides (all in the proper sense)
The first time I ever embarked on a train ride was in Kadri Park I guess. I cannot remember properly, but I was petrified. Then somewhere in the mid 90’s Mr. George Fernandes gifted his beloved land a train service - Konkan Railway. It was a blow to the bus service providers and a boon to the thousands of mangaloreans who lived in IC colony, Borivili, who had to rely on Canara Pinto and Vishal travels for their to and fro journeys.
My first trip by train to Mumbai was a good one - I cannot recall much of it as my uncle and aunt were with me, but the return trip was unforgettable for the fact that my cousin and I, who were in our teens then were busy eyeing a cute girl and we had eavesdropped and learnt that she spoke Konkani. Our happiness knew no bounds. My cousin, a good two years older than me, even found out her name from the name list pasted at every compartment’s entrance. She was from Kumta or at least getting down at Kumta. We never slept till she got down and then inevitably had to sleep for the next 3 hours till we reached Kundapura. Getting down at every station, hopping around compartments to scan for some other homegrown lassies, standing on the door and feeling the wind at our faces and allowing it to blow our hair away- ( now I know why both of us have less hair J) were a few things we did without a care of the world.
This was in my teens. Life is just like a train ride. It takes turns- some small to the left and right and some huge abrupt U turns, sometimes it even derails. I too had to take a train to Kolkata, a huge change in my life, but looking back now, it looks a small diversion in the journey of life. But the train ride was fun. We were 6 of us, all classmates who had all landed up jobs in the same company. We encountered eunuchs, battled loose motions, learned to eat and digest even stones. All these just by a train ride to Kolkata. Life teaches everyone a lesson each day, some take it, learn from it and become wise and many others like me wait for the second lesson, which will surely be present round the corner and usually is accompanied with punishments for missing the first lesson.
The advantages of boarding the train in the first destination and getting down at the last station are numerous. One of them is that you will meet lots of new people form new places. Faces next to you keep changing at every 10 th station, and just having a casual talk with them teaches you new things. Acquaintances made during the train journey may not be permanent, but sometimes they end up being life long.
I have taken numerous train rides from Mangalore to Chennai and the other way around as well. Every time I reached Mangalore, I was happy and every time I reached Chennai I was sad. Many of the articles written by me, published on this website were conceived, sitting on the upper berth – my favorite berth. Its such a nice place, just because after u dump your luggage under the lower berth and occupy the upper berth, you can just relax knowing there is no one to disturb you.
Recently I took a short 40 minute train ride to Port Talbot. The ride was scenic as Wales is a very beautiful and there was slight drizzle outside which made it look even more beautiful. Out of nowhere I thought the train is travelling through our very own Gods own country- Kerala. It was similar in many aspects, the greenery, a steward selling tea and coffee, the TC checking tickets etc and different in some: firstly train was waterproof I mean water did not seep into the berth from a small 12 cm crack which the maintenance knowingly ignored and secondly the steward shouted “ANYTHING FROM THE STALL” instead of shouting “CHAYA CHAYA, KAAPI KAAPI”.
It has been a long time since I have travelled in a train. I have a major ambition of travelling throughout India in trains- not in Rajdhaani or in Shatabdi, but in these small trains like Chennai mail, Howrah Express, Mangalore Mail etc which go from one city to another and then take another connecting train to another city. I don’t know whether I will ever be able to fulfill this dream, but dreams are good. Don’t you think? But ambitions sometimes ruin life and put you in a hole. Another desire is to travel in the Mangalore- Bangalore train. I have heard a lot about it, especially about the winding paths and awesome scenery, hopefully soon.
I have many other ambitions and fantasies related to trains, but I consider them unworthy of getting a mention here. J . Trains have been a boon to our nation of more than a billion people. I sincerely hope government orders superfast trains pretty soon and help me fulfill my dreams.
Anil D'Souza - Archives: