My father was in Central Government service and always posted at different places,always far from our native place,which was for all practical purposes,declared as Bangalore.Every year at least once or sometimes more we had to travel down south.Always a long journey.Those days train journey was totally a different story.May be things were not so convenient.All the same there was a comfort level and privacy,hard to find now.We could have an entire coupe for ourselves.-some perks of my father’s job.Thus there was a homely feeling with so much of privacy.As children we could be as naughty as ever but not with a disciplinarian father around.Otherwise we could chat or read or just watch from the window.As much as possible,food was packed from home.We were not an orthodox family but platform food was considered unhygienic and expensive,since we were so many of us and also the term “expensive” had a different connotation at that time.They were the days of steam engines which emitted lot of soot.With all this there was a pleasure attached.
My fascination was and is watching the railway platform.It was fun looking at the anxiety levels of those wanting to get down and those wanting to enter and find the proper seat.I am writing about ordinary classes.We have travelled by this also.Initially there were no reservation,then reserved seats and after that sleeper berths.Therefore there were near stampedes near the doors.Even now it is still the case.There would be welcome for those arriving and sad partings for those departing ,in the platforms.There may be cases of parents and their children,loving couples bidding good byes or siblings parting.
A second feature which used to appeal to me were the food stalls and vendors,selling all tempting fares.These were the days after my marriage.It was not considered fashionable to carry home food.We succumbed to temptation and suffer later.There was not so much awareness as now but all the same there is more junk food than before.Initially coffee was not available in these routes and we had to compromise with tea.not my favourite.Even now the coffee available leaves much to desire.The dining car and caterers were still to make an entry.
Thirdly I used to eagerly wait for the cart carrying news paper,magazines and books.There were reputed bookshops on the platform but I was always scared to get down and relax at the platforms,as if the train would leave without me-effect of watching too many movies.Not serials yet.
Now coming to the present times,if we travel by trains,we take the a.c coaches ,with cramped seats.No question of looking through the window and enjoying the fresh breeze. Looking at the scenery and getting poetic or romantic.We can look through the glassed window but it is not the same.Time and convenience plays a part and people take the flights or prefer to drive at their convenience.Old timers like me miss these train journeys and feel nostalgic.