Friday, 7 November 2014

Why trains fascinate us

I am sure we remember this memory from our childhoods: a chugging train full of passengers who we used to wave enthusiastically at and wonder as to how far and where all those people were going. The sound of 'chukk chukk' and the belching smoke running up in billows as the train moved ahead gave us the twinkles in our young eyes! How fortunate those passengers were to be travelling in the train, we thought! So exciting! Trains were wonderful! In the playground, we mimicked the trains as we lined up one after the other, with our tiny hands holding the waist of the child in front of us, and the one in front leading us gleefully in any direction whatsoever and all of us shouted "chukk chukk"!!! 

Ohh so many memories came flooding back!!! And sometime when  we made our first train journey, So excited, we told all our friends, ham train se ja rahe hai! Of course the innocent excitement of childhood  and the fights with siblings to have the window seat and the excited waving of hands at the passers by is a thing of the past and something which we are now bashful about, but our fascination with the trains continues!

Awe and surprise. Trains evoke a sense of wonder, awe and power. We wonder what it would be like to be like Casey Jones, and sit at the throttle of a "hot" train. They are the favourite vehicle of the backbacker and the boho traveller, carefree and traveling whereever his heart guides him. And of course, who can forget the melodious song 'Chhaiya Chhaiya' featuring SRK shot on the top of a train!

Adventure. Trains leave us with a sense of adventure. You could undertake a journey and trail off at someplace else if the wild explorer in you calls out! There is an old poem that ends with the line, "And there isn't a train, I wouldn't take, No matter where its going." It describes perfectly how I feel. And oh, of course, that's apart from planned travel - cheap and affordable!

Watching nature. Train journeys introduce us to the natural landscapes like no other. Sure they take longer to reach you to your destination, but as they say, the delight lies in the journey! The vignettes of beautiful sceneries, specially when there are rivers, mountains, hills and plantation leaves us filled with wonder and freshness.

A collection of experiences. Train journeys with families and specially involving siblinga and cousins are loads of fun (and noise). And lots of angry under the breath rantings  from fellow passengers too! But that's how we make memories. Laughing together!

Watching life from afar. Railway stations and small towns and cities amaze us. There are so many things that go on, I feel a sense of wonder watching so much life in one instant. Compared to the lone self-centered daily routine, when I watch the activities going on in any of the places it is amazing to watch. 

Cater to both masses and classes. Indian trains bridge the gap between the classes. They offer range of services from luxury to plain vanilla travel options. From 1st Class AC where fare and services are equivalent to those offered in the airplanes to sleeper and general class compartment, everyone can travel accordingly to the level of convenience and experience they seek. It's totally customisable travelling experience!

Trains themselves as tourism vehicles. There are several state specific tourism special trains which run between stations and offer stoppages for travel and leisure. For example, Palace on wheels, is an initiative by Rajastan Tourism. The train has a 7 nights & 8 days itinerary departs from New Delhi (Day 1), and covers Jaipur (Day 2), Sawai Madhopur and Chittaurgarh (Day 3), Udaipur (Day 4), Jaisalmer (Day 5), Jodhpur (Day 6), Bharatpur and Agra (Day 7), return to New Delhi (Day 8). Similarly, there are other travel special trains, e.g. Fairy Queen, The Golden Chariot, Deccan Odyssey, etc.

Special trains. There are trains that are political messengers of peace. The samjhauta express was one such train. None could have matched the potential of trains bridging the gap between people of two nations at the root level. The Maitri express connects Dhaka, Bangladesh with Kolkata, India. Similarly there are several inter-country trains across the world. Lifeline Express is a special train popularly known as the "Hospital-on-Wheels" which provides healthcare to the rural areas. This train even has an operating room. The train travels around the country, staying at a location for about two months before moving elsewhere.

Relics of the past and pathways to the future. Trains started in our country way back in 1853 from Bombay to Thane. Trains are the power houses of past,present and future. Giants combining power, speed and desire in one awesome package.

No one person can truly describe the magic what we feel when we see this relic of a bygone era and yet they're not really relics, they still exist today, carrying us to the future. Trains are magical!



  1. Perfect piece of work! do you also remember counting the compartments(boxes/ dibbe) of the trains, especially the ones of maalgadi(always unending).

  2. Yes.. We all used to! :-) trains used to evoke so much wonder in our kiddie days!


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