Monday, December 1, 2008

Train to Tambaram.


After putting up a post with the picture of a rather bloody railway station I decided to write something positive about my train experiences. The other trigger was my qucik trip to kerala. It was really quick, imagine spending 36 hours in travel and 5 hours in cochin. My back is still sore after the trip and given a choice I would have watched the latest Mike Myers movie thrice a day....

The most vivid and recent memories of train travel is the one I used to have to my previous company. It was a daily train travel to Tambaram [the first time I saw the board I read it as Tam-Bram as in tamil brahmin,too much influence of matrimonial sites you see :P], which lies in the outskirts of Chennai city.

Train travel has always been an enthralling experience for me, right from my days in kinder garden. You are advised not to go as far as the Jurassic age for this. I am quite young, just 5 years and a few months, the value of few being 275.

As a kid, traveling by train was a special occasion akin to a travel in a time machine. It came once a year during the summer vacation trip to my grandma's place. Innumerable sights and scenes fill me up - the noise of the screaming vendors, the hustle bustle of railway station, suitcases that come in different dimension, potpourri of unique co-passengers and much more.

Once inside the train the moving landscapes and the excitement to climb onto the top most berths were added incentives. The other memories which strike me are the innocence and trust while hearing wide eyed to my sister's stories about fifty men pushing and pulling the train from the platform for its move and halt, the greedy wish to buy everything selling on the platform and of course the earful I get from my mom after failed attempts to climb to the top berth. As I recall these, a nostalgic cloud surrounds me and makes me feel as old as a tortoise. Obviously while the journey up to my grandma's place was full of fun like a bullish investor, the return one was as sad as that of an investor run over by the bears and waiting for a bail out.

From an eight-hour journey in a 15 bogey express train to a thirty minutes journey in a nine compartment electric train, the differences do remain. But the soul is the same, be it the rattling ku-chiku sound, the smell of iron in my palms or the interesting characters I come across.

There had been occasions, which give bad experiences. Like this guy who dropped a huge sack- which many guessed had Mike Tyson in it- right on my leg and gave a reaction as though I had hurt his parcel. The girl who gave this bewildered here-is-the-most-wanted-serial-rapist look when I had just enquired for the name of the station which passed by or the obnoxious old man who was shocked to know I can read tamil while all along he was thinking I am an alien from a different galaxy. He started to correct each and every syllable I pronounced. It is a weird package indeed.

Yes accepted, the good things do come along in this package. Be it the cute and pretty girl who got onto the 8:12 AM train at my station and gives a small chuckle or the hot girl from who comes in the 8:00 train. It made my time schedule go as crazy as a tom cruise on the Oprah winfrey show.

Rarely, I did get a chance to travel with a bunch of pals from my training batch. The whole journey turns lively and is full of fun and banter, after the end of the party we used to take a resolution about group trip once a week. Ten days later a mail would peep out and remind us of our resolution. Life just went on like the train with joy and sorrow being the two tracks’. Oh! Am I getting philosophical here?

The funniest things in the trains are the stick-on ads. Paper ads stuck for sexual potency and to increase the size of manhood or to stay erect. Good lord!! Aren’t we folks obsessed with it? Yet we say no to sex education of kids. Hope they don’t learn that from these so called therapy quacks.

The train gets its primetime obviously when the students step in. With their group songs, meaningless jokes followed by loud hearty laughs and the graffiti on train walls...we can see some wonderful couplets like "unnai kandein ennai marandhein...un thangayai kandein unneya marandhein". A literal translation would be … I saw you and forgot myself...saw your sister and oh I forgot you! These couplets would be decorated with hearts and piercing arrows rented from Cupid and of course the couples’ name in the middle. It should be sheer coincidence that many times the guy’s name remains the same while the girl’s keep changing in every heart.

The atmosphere is radically opposite during the night times when none but the breeze keeps me company and sometimes a beat constable gets into the compartment to catch a small nap up to the next station. His loud, reverberating snores give the confidence to travel the distance alone. The station would have become the bedroom for the beggars and street urchins who owned it during the day. The otherwise old n weak lady who stands in the steps and pleads for mercy costing Rs.1 a pinch can be seen shouting and acting as the boss of the place, commanding folks and demarcating the borders for other legions. It’s a puzzle as to what kind of disease strikes her in the mornings to make her so weak and frail.

The street urchins who plead for something to be given can be seen smoking pot or some cheap drug with an air of supremacy about it. They do try out different styles and mannerisms to leave the smoke out of their lungs via the mouth, I am sure movie super stars can get some style lessons here.

The daily travel offered so many things to view, enjoy and relish yet I used to see folks immersing themselves in a book or their gizmos in a train...weird world.... I hope to continue my train travel saga with lots of interesting things for years to come.

A poem I came across

The rain streams across the window panes;
the hills loom sombre though the failing light;
the carriages sing steel along the rails;
the brooks rush brown and fierce through the fields;
autumn is torn to pieces by the storm;
night falls, and I am homeward bound.


36 comments:

Prasad said...

aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh the trains!!! i lov 'em!!! and not to forget the pantry car and the food it churns out :DDDDD

and dude i do miss the meter gauge unit trains that i used to travel to college!! my train journey continues now after 4 years!! and now the ganesh bakery on the way to the station is makin a killin! :P

Tarun Goel said...

Trains are big houses in themselves, running houses in fact. Being from Himachal I am not that much habitual of trains, but when they run I jus love them
Cheers, njoy, Life is Beautiful

Ruth said...

Wow, you conjured vivid images, and your usual humour. (I spelled that "humour" in honor of you and India.) I loved the line "I saw you and forgot myself...saw your sister and oh I forgot you!"

You make me miss trains even more than I did. Miss them, not because I used to ride them, but because I have only ridden a few times and wish they were a bigger part of life for me here. I am begging for a train across our state. But then, it would be brand new and would not have the hawkers and other colorful characters.

Rauf has been talking about Indian trains too, so I am getting my education.

And just what do you mean by top most berths, young man?

Nautankey said...

Pras,
Dont you dare remind me of that shop..slurrp..and drool.I guess i missed out those railway canteens and the sambhar avadas..but off late their quality has come down.

Nautankey said...

Tarun,
Guess some places in himachal have those rope trains..but yeah they r more for tourist attraction... blore too does not have a metro... shud try the blore chennai rail route its pretty good..especially when it comes thru some parts of andhra we have farmers doubling up as vegetable vendors n selling truly garden fresh stuff...

Nautankey said...

Ruth,
Thanks for the honour..or rather the honor :).Havent read too much about american railways probly bcoz air travel is cheaper comparitively.

I think only an indian can stand an indian train especially on the counts of hygiene.But then we love them as mch as we detest a few thigns about them.

Top most berth?..did sound like a language slip but then we have 3 berths,the lower middle and upper. For kids the middle is as good as the upper.hence it becomes top and upper is topmost :)

Prasad said...

dude! u hav to try out the VLR canteen in tambaram station! ho it has been a few years since i hav been der!!! it used to be great whn i was in coll!!!

Bedazzled said...

i get nostalgic when i get into trains .. trips to grandmas ooru..the rocking of the train reminds me of a cradle rocking ..a lot of train memories are associated with food for me .. idli vada kaaapi .. wat say ?

Sindhu :) said...

I LOVE train travels!

There's nothing more like it. The scenes you can see, the people you meet, the huge variety of sounds that hit your ears and that and this - everything is divine!

In some particular routes, which are famed for robberies - I try hard not to fall asleep, but then, the slow rhythm of the train always ends up making me fall asleep.

Many people say they can't sleep in trains - on the contrary, I think the constant rhythm actually lulls you into sleep! :)

myheadtrip said...

Love trains...Don't know anyone who does not! :)
Nice post :)

Smita said...

Trains have their own story....

Though I have always loved travelling in them but the best time I had was during the local train travel.

The rush, the grit to get in, the drive to fit in is awesome. Same passengers daily and speaking to them through eyes w/o even knowing their names, that's train journey for me....

Lovely post..

Ruth said...

Oh ok, phew! I was afraid you meant the roof! ;D

Tarun Goel said...

No more bangalore,Pune[read Raj Thackarey :) ] calling.But i'll be enjoying the bangalore-delhi route tommorow onwards :)

verbivorehere said...

first of all 2 Qs..U went kerala? 4 what? ;P..and it took u so long? ;P thn where are u?..asking so that i can come and stage a strike for more posts ;P coz its so interesting..and yeah i still drill my head into books as i travel..but why should i worry 'nautankey is there to describe the details with greater imagination' :)

Writing for Crows said...

dude! I simply love Indian trains, train ride in India is like nothing else. the chai, the bonda. machan. seriousa. but then these commuter trains.. ah..such a pain.

Nautankey said...

Pras,
The VLR oen @ sanitorium also used to be good..especially the poori. But the last time i had ther it was too oily..inflation is taking a toll I suuppose :)

Nautankey said...

Parkavi,
The food part..i am sure we can write a book on it.I once travelled to jammu in train. The variety of food I got on the way thru all the states the train passed...phew!! wish some gourmet expert writes a book on it.

Nautankey said...

Sindhu,
I used to have this Obsessive compulsive disorder 2 years back.. abt sleeping on the top most..I mean top berth :)..used to imagine suffocation and never used to sleep.Probly bcoz i was concentrating on those diry fans n roofs :)..luckily it no more there and i too am able to sleep like a baby..It used to be better with steam engines..the train sound with the horn sound...perfect lullaby :)

Nautankey said...

abarna,
Thank you ji and just imagining A in the train..you would have one busy time controlling him :)

Nautankey said...

Smita,
Thank yous..and the grit to fit in part is the most challenging..need to find a space to keep our first feet in..then somehow we wud manage the second one.All the subtle pushing and shoving to reach the seat..this is E-sports
I say :)

Nautankey said...

Ruth,
There are places where people do travel on the roof :).Espeially if there are some festivities going on and there is a scarcity of tickets,people in rural parts take the roof..

Nautankey said...

Tarun,
Aah pune...city of universities and colleges...hope u are not goign to start your story of education there :P

Nautankey said...

Verby,
Answer 1 : Was for a friend's wedding.Answer 2:Was there in cochin for 4-5hours,rest of the time in travel.the interesting parts of the short trip cant be written here :)

Oh..dont read books,I once vowed that i will become a serial-book-readers-on-train-killer :P...

Nautankey said...

Crow,
Very true..the crowd does put us off but then for those who dont have choice rather than cribbing lets try to see the positive side of our travel.And yeah there is the 1st class coach for the affordable travellers,its seldom crowded.

Prasad said...

hhhmmmmm true man!!! also the food rates are the freekin same man!!! or very minimum rate changes!! so i guess this takes it toll on the quality!!

also i hav this perception tht trains in the north r more dirty then the ones in the south!! think this is true??

Bedazzled said...

then maybe we shud ..

Nautankey said...

Pras,
Thats right still the poori set is Rs.10 and sambhar vadai Rs.5 kinds.

Not sure about dirty but I had a bad experience and i term them unruly. They just get into the reserved compartments and take their seats ignoring our claims. Especially bihar was pathetic in that regards.Never travel in 2nd class o'er there.Good thing they left out the A/c compartments.

Other thing i noticed in north-south is in south we dont give too much respect for army jawans, whereas in north indian trains n stations[esp ludhiana,chandigarh] a guy in army uniform gets high regards.Even the TTE gets their job done quickly..Might be because south has never faced the direct brunt of enemy attacks during wars..or probly I am looking too much into it :)

Nautankey said...

Yeas Parks...the way u wrote about the pani puri in ur story,I did wipe away some drool..you got to do it :).

Praddy said...

have travelled a few times in the MRTS, but not obn the locals to tambaram.

The long distance train journey are always memorable and always bring some nostalgia in me. memorable when a pretty gal share the coupe for the next 14 hours :D and yea the food and hot water (read - tea) they serve in the trains have got a special charm in itself.

Arpita said...

I feel train travel was a lot more fun when we were kids. We din judge people in our compartment [whether they were part of the biscuit gang or not] or get worried about wat was in the cutlet served by the vendors or have any qualms about climbing the upper berth and gettin down umpteen no. of times.

vimmuuu said...

You have been awarded and tagged :

http://vimalsparadise.blogspot.com/2008/12/couldnt-come-up-with-title.html

arvind1187 said...

wow ...awesome post ...
i can relate a lot to that ....
I just love trains ..

Nautankey said...

Arpita,
Yeah very true..the kids always used to mingle with others,though the parents try to stop it. We used to find the cockraoches nr ats very amusing,though now its like yuckss and hurl some abuses at laloo :P

Nautankey said...

arvind,
Thank you..and am sure everyone from the middle and upper middle class segment from the last decade wud have great memories of the train.

Vimmmmu,
Hey thanks chetaaaa...will do that :)

kanaguonline said...

A very nice post.. :)
I always love train travel one reason for that is, it is the only mode of transport through which we can reach anywhere in Chennai in Time :)
And other thing we could see many people and can get eateries, which is not possible in any other mode travel.. right

Nautankey said...

Kanagu,
Very true.Need nto wait fo hours in traffic jams its quicker n cheaper n also more interesting :)