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THE LOCOMOTIVE PLEASURE
"Happiness is a journey and not a destination".-Ben Sweetland. The quote gives us a glimpse of beauty of journey in the sense of happiness. These words always give me the necessary boost up whenever I am blue. However, at the same time it always reminds me of the pleasures of journeys and that takes me to the most favorite locomotive, that is train, the wagon of joy to me . The railway tracks and train always brings out the child in me. The first encounter with the train journey is always a cherished memory. The excitement I found in sleeping on upper birth as a child is yet to be replaced. The lullaby of the rhythmic sound of wheels and rocking cradle of compartment took me to the dreamland in minutes. I still remember, how my father tied a bedsheet to the hanging rods of the upper birth so as to protect me from falling down in sleep . The long journey with halting at various stations, I just fell in love with the train travel. The long hoot of the engine, the slow pace at the start of the journey and slowly the train leaves the platform behind, to catch the faster rhythm on the tracks. The platform full of activity, the vendors and the people remain behind and we look forward to another stop, another platform and adding on some new passengers. Doesn't this sound familiar, like the journey of life. We cross various stages in life like the different platforms. Some new people join our journey, with us different relationship attached to them and few old friends and companions leave us for various reasons. But they leave their mark in our journey. My train journeys have transformed from the humble sleeper coaches to upper class air conditioned coaches, but my enthusiasm for the train remains the same. When traveling in the sleeper coaches, it gives us a sneak peek of our surroundings, people and society. The myriad of discussions about the current political scenario or be it bollywood gossips or the situation of Indian education system, the views shared in the compartment of the trains are the views of the common man. The sharing of food between the passengers from their tiffins and their stories capture a very short moment of our journey but memories are sketched forever. The sophisticated AC coaches have a silent ambience to them. The curtains drawn between the co-passengers segregates them. Passengers here are cocooned in their own journey. Even if there is a kind of desolation in the AC compartments, but still I enjoy the bliss it gives to be with myself, tucked in the blanket with a favorite book for the company in midst of gazing out of the thickened glass windows. The trains have a rich history and the railways has always added so much to the civilisation. Who can forget the historic train journey of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, where when thrown out of the boggie, he went out to become Gandhiji or 'bapu' and made historical changes in polity of third world countries.The railways have got their own makeover with time, with better berths, interiors and sanitation but there is still some typical old world charm attached to the train journeys which just cannot be replaced by any fast moving jets or Boeings. With the development in field of tourism, we can see the special tourism trains like Palace on wheels that runs through Rajasthan giving you a royal experience while traveling and exploring the state. On similar lines there is Oriental Express in Maharashtra. As the technology is developing, we will proudly have our own bullet trains running in India. I feel we will have so much diversity,as we have old world charm of trams running on the tracks at Kolkata as well as the modern fast moving metro trains making the distance short in the cities.
When you need to transport fast, you can definitely opt for air travel but when you want to take a journey and need to be laid back, trains are the best way. The chai wala at the platform and the hot samosas and flipping through the books at book stalls while waiting for the train, all these things are simply irreplaceable, inviting enough to plan my train travel some time very soon!