There Is Something Magical Aout Travelling On The Indian Railways, a Fond Memory To Cherish.
Updated: May 15
By Monali Dam
There is something magical about travelling on the Indian railways, a fond memory to cherish.
In a fast pace world where all things instant, trains give us that perfect opportunity to experience life in the slow lane. A journey into timeless stretches, beyond the fields, and rivers, into far distances. Trains evoke a sense of nostalgia for it takes us back into our childhood. There is something old-school and magical about train journeys.
The excitement of a train journey in childhood began with preparations like packing the essentials and mind you those were the simpler times when we carried everything from pillows, quilts, clothes all squeezed into that holdall, spells a note of nostalgia for this piece of luggage belonged to that bygone era. Not to forget that homemade aloo sabzi puri, the surai to keep us cool on those summer days. Ah! memories.
The platforms themselves are small ecosystems of the myriad life forms like hawkers selling delectable edibles to books ,toys etc. .Some passengers have laid out their beds and fast asleep, some are chatting while others are busy chasing a coolie or walking or galloping their way to their coach .People watching is a pleasurable way to pass time on Indian trains .On a long journey, one gets to see an interesting mix of people ,anxious, chatty, joyous ,restless .Those momentary friendships during the journey, the conversations makes the train travel lively and never a dull moment. Entertainment becomes a moving human experience. Chaiee.. Chaiee.. that sound of the chaiwallahs on the train continues to resonate in every passenger even after alighting from the train. Those steaming cups of joy are a perennial favorite of everyone aboard.
India boasts of numerous spectacular train journeys some are fast and some are slow. One such enchanting train journey is The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway also called the ‘’Toy Train’’ ride.
This historical rail route is 150 years old and it is due to its fascinating history it earned and granted the UNESCO world heritage status. The ride is sure to give you an adrenaline rush as the train makes its way with loops, turns and zigzags along its tracks. The jaw dropping view is a sight to behold and as the train crosses rivers, mountains tea plantations, you lose sense of time .The moment the whistle blows, the train moves, a sense of excitement is palpable among all the passengers, especially the children. As one looks out of the window, passing the green paddy fields, waving back to the smiling village children, houses and trees zoom past. Its like stepping back in time.
Another Indian rail journey worth mentioning is the beautiful Himalayan Queen from Kalka to Shimla. A six -hour journey with twists and turns, through 87 bridges, and 900 curves, passing through 102 tunnels. One would shriek in excitement whenever the train traversed a dark tunnel. And I remember an extract from the author Ruskin Bond book The Tunnel.” The steam engine shot out of the tunnel, snorting and puffing like a green, black and gold dragon, a beautiful monster out of Rajni’s dreams.” Ruskin Bond in many of his stories have vividly described about the train journeys, the quaint railway stations, the characters we meet on the train. For example in his story ‘’The Night Train at Deoli’’,Bond portrays Deoli as lonely dim lit station on the outskirts of Dehradun. This small railway station had only one platform and no one ever got down or boarded the train from this station adds to the mystery. It was here the author happens to see a pale looking girl selling baskets on the platform. That was followed by an unspoken attraction between the two. Thus each journey has stories and memories some are forgotten and others are etched in our minds forever.
India is all about diversity, culture, noise, chaos, color and Indian railway provide all this. Its raw but it’s also magical.
By Monali Dam