The charm of a train journey

A train journey is different. It has its own charm, every trip is an experience in itself. It’s not like going by bus, or by plane. At some point of our childhood lives, haven’t we all been excited about going by train? Our mothers packing chapatis or pulao for lunch/dinner, carefully wrapped in aluminium foil or steel boxes, the rush of excitement when the train is about to leave, staring at the scenery and the passers by for hours without getting bored, the rush of the wind on your face, ah! What an amazing feeling! A trip to my native last week spurred this “train” of thoughts and here I am, rambling about train journeys.

What makes it so different is the atmosphere. You meet new people, have new experiences. As soon as the train departs, your co-passenger starts chatting, “Neevu Mangaloorige hoguvavara?”, with a smile is the general way to break the ice. In no time, you know that he is going to attend a relative’s marriage, has three children, works in so and so company, and even before you know it, you are discussing the latest political scam or the Indian cricket team’s latest debacle with him. You are all of a sudden talking to a stranger as though you are long lost friends. This is the charm in going by train that no other means of travel can offer.

Going with your relatives on the other hand, is a picnic in itself. The antakshari, word building games, storytelling sessions with cousins to pass time, eating channas or sipping hot tea, longingly looking at the chai wallah and the snacks he has to offer, now that brings memories! This reminds me of my favorite poem we had in school, called “From a railway carriage” by Robert Louis Stevenson. It goes like this:

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.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Ah! Longing for my next train journey now!

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