Train travel spells nostalgia with a capital N. These days with a shortage of time and the need to maximize any holiday, most of us prefer to fly out to our destination even though it is a little dearer. Nevertheless, train travel has its own charm and attraction; it brings out the inner child in you!
Trains then, and even now don’t limit you to just 15 kgs check in and 7 kgs for handbag so the luxury of taking whatever you want and remaining tension free about the shopping you undertake later on is so relieving!
You can always buy a new bag at your destination if the ones you carry are exhausted!
Also, with the railways amping up their game, hospitality wise, they have given us more to look forward to. There are so many pros to it and yet it’s been a while since any of us went on a train journey. As kids we have spent countless holidays going to either the hills during our summer vacations or the beach during the Diwali or winter vacations, and once a year the customary visit to grandparents where our partners-in-crime, the cousins, would join us.
All of this meant at least two given train journeys a year and the travel would be if not less, then equally exciting, as the destination. Our bags would be packed till the brim with our clothes, toys and not to forget, our holiday homework.
If we were visiting relatives then mom would be busy for days at end preparing goodies to carry on the way and for gifting. The D-day would arrive and one would wake up with butterflies in the stomach and unimaginable excitement. Upon reaching the platform we would look out for the A.H.Wheeler vendor, those days that was our indulgence, actually it still is!!!
We were allowed a comic book or two each, to take our pick from Champak, Tinkle, Chacha Chowdhury….and avoiding dad’s eyes, slip in an Archies into the stack!!
Carry back our loot along with mom’s film magazines, dad’s political reads and we were set. Those were the days when your bags had to be secured with chains, and as always we would have forgotten ours at home, so had to buy a new one at the station.
Once settled inside the train, baggage and us, our next target would be the chips and chocolate guy, to fill up our tuck boxes for the journey ahead and maybe a little more in case of midnight hunger pangs . Then we were off. Out would come our snakes and ladders or ludo boards, other kids in and around would gather and new friendships forged, before you knew it we would be running up and down the bogie creating a hell of a ruckus while our moms would be fishing out snacks and farsaan from the food bag and chatting up a storm with the older uncle and aunty in our coupe.
The only thing that would calm us down and get us back to our seats was the promise of the legendary tomato soup at 7 p.m. Waiting anxiously for the soup and in the hopes of extorting a few more croutons from the bearer we would sit like angels next to mom and dad. Dinner and ice cream polished, it would be decided who would take the upper berth and off for the night we would be. Mornings in the train meant the only time we were allowed tea and oh what bliss! Followed by cutlets and omelettes, French fries and tomato ketchup, vacations for us would start on the trains itself, in those days.
Then the scurry to gather our stuff, scrub up and get ready to alight. Goodbye to our new friends, phone numbers exchanged and promises to remain pen pals made. Dad would pull out the bags and the rush to stand ahead and grab a coolie would begin. Those were the days. If for nothing else, just the experience, we should take the train once in a while, it actually gives us the time to rejuvenate and relax.
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