The National Train Day is celebrated on May 14. I haven't been a frequent traveller on Indian railway except during my Mumbai-Pune days and of course, was a daily traveller in our life line in Maximum City, Local. Let me try to go back to those days in Mumbai and Pune where I was a regular train traveler.
It was in 2005 when I booked a second class ticket (unreserved) in my favorite Deccan Queen. It was early 8 a.m when I had to meet someone in Mumbai. The family visited for few days and it was a do or die situation. I scampered inside the train when few guys were cleaning the berths. They asked me to give them a handful of notes to sit on the berth. I played along. It was much later I realized that the train was half empty and would have got the seat anyway. It was window seat and it mattered.
The train rattled and loved the sight as it whooshed away from Pune station. Chai was ordered and samosas to fill the empty stomach.On the menu, reading the Times of India and peeping through the window, admiring the picturesque view at Lonavla, Mahabaleshwar and of course, the tunnel ride at Khandala. I would get off my seat to stand near the door, watching the train speeding its way inside the tunnel. It suddenly became dark but a ride totally worth it.
It was a three-hour journey spent in peace and admiring the scenery. There was an envy to smoke and looked furtively around, where I wondered whether I can take a risk? Of course, I did hanging near to the door and curled smoke to be lost in the valley at Lonavla. Travelling by the Indian railway has such a romantic feeling where you could weave stories at the back of your imagination.
The train slowed its way on the track. It made me smile. I can see the yellow-and-black cabbies. It's Mumbai. We are in the outskirt. My heart started to dance. The feeling of stomping on the feet in Maximum City. Soon, our Deccan Queen suddenly sprang to life and zoomed with speed on the railway track. I felt like a King getting down at the iconic Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Whatta feeling.
I was supposed to get back to Pune on the same day. No booking was made and pining to get a free berth on the way back to Pune. I got the shock of the life when I boarded the train coming from Hyderabad and halted at CST on its way to Pune. It was jam packed and hardly any space to breathe. My legs pained. I was like, how on earth gonna bear the voyage for three hours. I moved to stand inside the toilet. Trust me, it was quite a breather to get some space to stand and breath free. Finally, the journey was done and the moment I got down at the Pune junction past midnight, it felt like the skies and clouds conspired to make me walk freely. I felt like a free bird, evading from the cage where human masses and thick breath covering the cloud. I became the cloud.
A train journey full of tribulations but totally worth it.
Postscript: This post was inspired by Sharukh Bamboat who blogs on IndiaDestinationsBlog. Check his incredible post on luxury trains on National Train Day. It brought back my days being a traveller.