I love train journeys.

There is something about sitting in a rickety rackety coach, peering out of the window, watching the changes in scenery. The everchanging scenery, donning a new colour at each stop, symbolises life to me. Sometimes green, Sometimes grey, and always racing past at 100 miles/hr…

Train Journeys and I have a history. And we embrace each other like two people who’ve known each other a long time.The first train trip I distinctly remember, was a Delhi – Jammu trip on the Jammu Tawi Express. I remember the family, suitcases, trunks, bags, food and all, occupying some 15 berths.The beginning of summer, meant vacations, and short trips around Delhi with the entire lot of Masis and Mamas and cousins. A lot of planning went into these trips, and everyone had their work cut out.

All the families would assemble at a designated home. The ladies would get together and plan for all the meals to be had in the train. There would be recipes to be shared and food to be cooked to last the entire journey without getting spoilt, and messy and and to appeal to us kids. The gents of the house would have all logistics to take care of. The tickets, the taxis, and the ensuring that the luggage and the crowd was moved from one city to another without too much confusion. Us kids were incharge of planning the entertainment. Ofcourse the youngest of us were an entertainment in themselves! There would be card games, and Ludo, and Antakshari and Dumb Charades. A/C compartments were not heard of so much and we travelled Sleeper class and despite getting off the train, dusty and untidy and aching for a bath, we’d feel like the best part of the trip had ended.

Then there were trips to Manmad, in Maharashtra, near Shirdi, where we’d all sit up to take note of the “Thumb’s Up” mountain. We’d make a hundred pacts with God on board the train to Shirdi, and the “Thumbs Up” mountain, nearing Shirdi, would feel like the God had said “I agree”, or “Good Luck” and we’d feel like all our pacts had been fulfilled.

On train trips in the college times, we travelled in hordes. The Trains were privy to secrets though our crushes, the hot pair in college, our dreams… all spoken in hushed whispers to the best of friends.

I’ve come a long way since that time, and now flights are more the norm than trains. But even now, the occasional train journey stirs up the memories of my life as it has been till now.

In that girl on the first berth, I see myself, at 6, tumbling down the upper berth behind Mummy scared that she would leave without me. Round the corner on Berth 15, I see a painfully shy 12 year old, at the threshold of her teens, playing with her brothers and sisters, wanting attention but shirking from it too 🙂

This rebellious teenager, sitting right next to me is going away to boarding school, where she will learn the most beautiful lessons of her life, about trust and camaraderie, and friendship, and though she sits sulking with her ipod plugged in, staring resolutely out of the window, I can see the stars of a bright tommorrow reflecting in her eyes.

Oh and that college gang at the end of the corridor… well, that was where I was some years back, talking of love, and dreams, and singing shared songs.

Seeing this middle aged lady sitting in front of me, I smile… I know what she’s thinking……she too is remembering some part of her life, left in some train.One of many lives… on a speeding train… going to some place without a name.