Here comes…

…the Indian train

I was on the highway speeding to reach a distant place when saw this local passenger train shuttle by, beautiful and mirage like… carrying with it all my memories of childhood, whistling through woods and fields, trips to places beyond the horizon. When the beast of a steam engine, puffing and grunting to transport me to my grandma’s town greeted me every single time on the railway station, I can’t express the joy mixed with trepidation that would shoot through me. Sitting at the ‘engine facing’ window gave me a sooty face, some coal dust grit in my eyes and a daredevil feel to the soul. Climbing to the topmost berth, watching the animated people from that vantage point, enjoying the rhythm of the movement on the tracks, and imagining a fantastic world was a favourite item on the list. Local guavas- cut into artistic slices with spicy salt smeared on them, shoved through the horizontal bars of the window was another ‘to die for’ thing.

It still fills me with a certain excitement; that promise of a short stint at gypsy existence-of the 6 X 2 berth becoming my home and the sway and rattle- the best soporific amongst the congenial din of fellow passengers. With a mini India in each carriage; the sense of adventure mixes so well with familiar sounds, voices, food and people. These hardworking machines arrive and depart at and from every corner of the country, kissing the mighty Himalayas to the Indian Ocean and all that lies in between. It is not to my liking to liken the train to a snake or a centipede,so I shall hang on to the imagery of a stream, or a flashing metal ribbon streaking through the countryside…

Indian movies have been romancing the railways since the beginning, as it provides a beautiful matrix to a song or a story…In fact, both have complimented each other so much so that every youth stepping into the compartment either anticipates a good encounter of the romantic kind with “someone” aka Bollywood way or hopes for a rendezvous to make the journey delightful! Shahrukh Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna n Dev Anand, all have added their bit of fuel to fire over the years.Several iconic songs come to mind. Will leave you with one at the end.In my innocent days, I used to always wonder why the reservation chart fixed outside a carriage merited so much of concentration from young men checking out their confirmed berths.Now of course, it tickles me to see the practice still in vogue!

I still can’t take my eyes off the ever majestic, ever mesmerizing winding carriages lugging behind the other appearing from nowhere and suddenly fading into a disappearing dot on the horizon, with small tablet like windows, some open with colourful pieces of clothing flashing by and faces of so many people, probably lost in their thoughts, in conversations, in heated political discussions or some may be looking wistfully, as the trees and fields rush by…

For a taste of a typical Indian train ride, here’s a song from the Hindi movie Tanu weds Manu:

Inviting you all to share your favourite ‘train song’ in the comments section…

8 thoughts on “Here comes…

  1. “Rail gaadi, rail gaadi chhuk chhuk chhuk chhuk rail gaadi.” I always waited for this song featuring Dadamuni whenever Rangoli or Chitrahar aired on DD National. Plus watching trains from the rooftop of the house was a must for me every evening…Thanks for bringing up the memory

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nicely articulated. The practice of checking reservation charts pasted outside the bogies of train was basically to find out the gender and age of your co-passengers 😁😁. Surprisingly, those who had the confirmed seats were the one’s who crowded the corner.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Picturesque take of a train journey… wonderfully written…the only song that across my mind right now is ‘mere sapno ki rani kab aayi tu’

    Liked by 1 person

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