I am on two minds on this one. Train travel in India, this phrase often means a host of memories for me, although I am sure, for my tech savvy daughter, Anusha, this often means more a bother than fun. I do remember so many fun and joyful train travels I had in my childhood: in compartments without air conditioning, sometimes without reservations; looking out of the window as far as I can, or until the coal dust almost blinds me; fighting over window seats with friends and cousins; and the amazing food from the vendors, including tea in clay cups, and bhelpuri, and of course, cucumber with a pinch of rock salt. In those times we were not as aware of microbes and bacteria in food and water as we are now, and drinking water from the platforms was clear and good for the health.
It’s no wonder that R L Stevenson’s poem, From a Railway Carriage, always stuck a place in my memories from childhood…
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by…
These days if I travel by train, it’s in air conditioned compartments, where I am more bothered about the cleanliness of the bedclothes provided, and the taste of the food. Fellow passengers’ talks often seem uninteresting, and best part of the travel is often retiring to my berth with a book after dinner. Whenever I need to travel to distances where I have to spend more than a night in train, I prefer flights. Long train travels are something I don’t do any more. I guess the charm of watching a flurry of changing scenes from my window is gone, now that my train compartments wear sunglasses (as was once told to me by a dear uncle).
Currently, my photographer hubby is travelling by trains a lot. He finds train travels in Mumbai extremely interesting, as far as human interactions go. While people in Delhi are brash and aggressive, he is enamored by the courtesy and politeness extended by his fellow travelers in Mumbai local trains.
I travel in Delhi Metro rail every day, and I wish I was as enamored with my fellow passengers as my husband. But that is another post for another day. 🙂
Train travels are now more of a necessity than fun anymore. Is this the same for you too?
All Photo Courtesy: Dipto Basu Photography