Travel or Travelling – something after food, that everyone loves to talk about.
To me it means a lot of things, Nostalgia, love, hate, passion.
As a child, travel used to be by train from Bombay to Baroda regularly for vacations – with the passion of being able to look out of the windows, guess the stations, feel bad because mother never ever bought the food that was sold on the station or in the train and then console oneself with the puri, bhaji, achaar, theplas that were carried along. One memorable journey from Bombay to Dehra Dun – where the highlight was toast butter and tea in the morning, remains etched in memory.
As one grew up, school, college intruded. Family outings for a variety of reasons were rare. Regular pilgrimage to Ambaji were by car for convenience. But dropping off grand parents by train and travelling back alone was something I always looked forward to, more because they always allowed me to buy stuff that was a No No if travelling with parents AND would give me some money for the return trip also. There was no such thing as reservation – stand in the Q for regular tickets, reach the station early, do the juggad, either with the coolie or yourself to get seats. Always remember to carry something to read. (yes, circulating libraries ruled – hardy boys, perry mason, alistair maclean, james hadley chase and westerns ruled)
College brought its share of problems and managed to do just two trips, out of which one was to Goa, that actually was a nightmare, when I look back at it today.
Getting a job, travel gathered a different perspective altogether. The second class moved up to first class, different kinds of interaction, less warmth mostly. Infrastructure, Trains, Stations had improved, changed; there were ticketing agents and you could afford them 🙂 Soon hectic travel was the norm – across Gujarat, to Bombay and knew the trains like the back of your hand, the TC and other vendors were on first term basis. One of the most memorial travel here was Baroda – Bombay – Nagpur with colleagues and Samaan 😉
Marriage and honeymoon down south, lovely journey by Train AND then the shift to East – West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, North East, Bangladesh – it was a dream come true for a lover of train travel, but at times a nightmare also, given the problems of the regions – but enjoyed travelling by all classes across the regions – no twitter, no mobile, no landline even – just mein, meri kitaab aur meri tanhai. Trains were always late, food rarely edible, tickets were issued multiple times…… The travel from Baroda to Calcutta and Bombay to Calcutta was also a journey undertaken with enthusiasm but done more by the wife.
A return to Bombay (yes it was still that) with a daughter put paid to the train travel, though we did a long travel to Vaishno Devi. A promise of comfort to the wife ensured that most travels then happened either by car and then with an industry change by Air.
For a long period then there was no train travel – so much so that I forgot the names, timings 😉 and friends used to laugh at me. It was during this period the record international travel gathered momentum and yes at variety of places managed to squeeze in train travel – Far East, Europe, US ‘antiseptic’ though it was. The only memorable one during this period was Bombay – Delhi – Bombay by Rajdhani with a dear friend for my sister’s wedding.
Yes there were those once in a way travel to Ambaji when we managed one way by train – but had become older, wiser, choosy so opted for AC chair car. And then complete zero… probably just a couple of travel by train over the last decade. Cars had become better, roads too and it was convenience.
After such a hectic travel life, it surprised me and shocked my family when I did not travel professionally for the past four odd years (but that is another story) I decided to rekindle my train love all over again, this year, hopefully. I want to travel Bombay – Goa – Bombay and Bombay – Delhi – Haridwar – Delhi – Bombay. This is just the wish, but meanwhile, have convinced the wife that we should do Bombay – Ambaji – Bombay to begin with at least 🙂
So as Train, meri kitaab aur meri Tanhai 😉