The one thing I have so badly missed ever since I moved to US (apart from the road side chats) is the train journeys.
Yes, I used to love travelling in trains. They were so much fun and I so looked forward to them.
The very first memory of train journeys is from the days when we were in Ranchi. Every summers, we would travel to Delhi to meet my Nanaji and naniji’s place.
Back at time, this journey used to take about 30-36 hours. So, with mom travelling with 3 kids and that too for month and a half, there used to be massive preparation for this journey.
In our house, we used to live on the top floor.
The ground floor was rented to 2 different tenants but one of the rooms was locked and that’s what we used to call “mummy ka khazana (mom’s treasure)”
So as soon as our tickets were booked, mom used to go down to that room, with 3 excited kids following her.
She would take out the suitcases, the bedding (remember the green colored army style), handbags and then a basket.
The clothes and other necessary items would be packed in suitcases, air pillows, bed sheets and light blankets in the bedding
Comics, cards, games, towels, soap, toothbrushes etc. in the handbag
And then the basket would start getting filled with food for the journey – poori, sabji, achar, biscuits, mathri, sweets, namkeen, fruits – you name it !!
And then the day of actual departure.
Dad would drop us off at the railway station
We would be checking at the railway tracks every now and then to check if the train was arriving.
In the meanwhile, dad would buy us loads of comics for our journey – Pinki, Chacha choudhary, Biloo, Madhu muskan
And then as soon as the train would arrive, the coolis (luggage porters) and dad would immediately get into action to get all the luggage into our designated seats
Dad would arrange the luggage so that all the pieces needed during the journey would be easily accessible.
Make sure we had enough water bottles; check our tickets multiple times
And then as the train would whistle away, we would all be settled away in the seats
Waving bye to the unknown strangers left behind on the station
As we would move from station to station, dad made sure to stop almost every vendor that crossed our seats to get something or the other
Mom kept offering us something to eat almost every hour.
As the night dawned, mom would take out her paper plates and served poori and sabji to all of us
Followed by some sweets
Followed by the thums-up and limca dad would get from one of the vendors passing by
Then off to the top seats we would climb
But not before fighting with each other about who sleeps on the top seat and who sleeps on the middle one
Early in the morning, we would be close to the Allahabad station. And that’s where we would get our favorite breakfast, white poori (Or Chole Bhatoore in grown up terms)
I used to love those and somehow as a kid always thought that that station was the only place where you could get it.
As the day would brighter, we would fight for our turns on the window seat, watch the train getting less crowded as each station approached;
Start assembling our things together and start our count down for the New Delhi Station; asking on every station, how many more stations till we reach Delhi?
Finally, when we touched Delhi station, the excitement and joy would be limitless.
We would be mesmerized by all the hustle and bustle at the station and trying to locate my Mamaji on that crowded station.
Once the train stopped, mom would carefully get us all down and stand in a less crowded corner of the station while dad and mamaji’s would get all the luggage.
We would be too excited and happy on reaching our destination to even notice the empty train (Delhi used to the last station) pulling away from the station.
And the excitement began all over on our next journey and many many others that we took.