Some time ago, we had been waiting at the station for our train to arrive. Meanwhile many other trains went by, some stopped and some went on. There was the usual flurry of activity as a train came to a halt. Looking at them I went down memory lane.
I really wonder how seemingly insignificant things make us walk down memory lane. Trains have always been a part of my life. My father worked for Indian Railways. Every summer vacation we used to come to my grandparents’ place in South India from wherever we were living. Usually we had to travel for at least three days. We never got bored, we used to play so many games and read books. At every major station we used to get down. Each station is world in itself. As the train enters a station we see people scanning the different compartments to sight their relatives. There is the usual running forwards or backwards by the passengers waiting to get in. Then all those hawkers selling food and I remember we used to eat at some stations and enjoyed them. At one particular station there used to be so many monkeys. If anything was kept near the window they would not hesitate to grab them . We had to be very careful. While going to my grandparents’ place, there used to be this sense of excitement, just thinking of two whole months of fun. We eagerly waited for our destination. At the end of two months it used to be a different story. One whole year of school and studies. :))
While studying in Mumbai, the local trains were an experience in themselves, waiting in the morning to go to college, many a times just being pushed in. The local trains in Mumbai are the lifeline of the place. In those days every locality had circulating libraries which rented out books for minimal charges. I must have read hundreds of books in the train. Reading books opened a world of imagination while watching those who were travelling in the same compartment. Where did they live, what did they do, so many questions about them. It did not really matter but it used to be fun imagining about them.
Trains and railway stations are world in themselves and as I write this, I remember a book I had read some time ago. It was Govardhan’s Travels by Sachidanandan, translated by Gita Krishnamurthy. It was an interesting book but I am never going to read it again. :))
The author writes about Michael, an engine driver. “The journey an engine driver repeatedly makes between two points does not take him anywhere in particular. Yet each time he takes a whole world with him. A world complete with men, women, old people and children. Each time it is a different world. And what is more a part of it is changed and renewed at every station.”