Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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I am sure some of you will identify with all / some of the details below - CIVIL LINES TO THE STATION AND THEN ON FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Train journeys in the 60's were fun . Rather than write an essay , here is a brief summary point wise.
Its the summer vacation............................schools have closed and we were all set ........

You planned the journey for a month or more
You packed in tin trunks and you had to carry a HOLDALL ( for the blankets/ sheets/ pillows etc )
For the uninitiated it was made of thick water proof material and had straps- you put all the stuff in - including shoes in the corners and then you rolled it up and tightened the straps .
Taking a SARAI along was a must ( for water ) If you don't know what a SARAI is - find out .
You cycled to the station in the morning to find out if the train was on time - at times you made 2 or 3 trips to make sure . More often than not the information counter attendants were not sure either .
You went to the station in rickshaws . Most trains left in the evening or night
As soon as the rickshaws approached the station , the coolies came running towards you .
Before you could say a word they had your luggage off and on the ground.
Then began the haggling - they quoted Rs 40 for all the luggage ( 2 trunks / a large holdall and a few bags + a suitcase or two .
They were offered Rs 20 and finally the deal was struck for Rs 25 with a a promise that if they got you into the train safely you would give them a baksheesh of Rs 2 or 5 !.
You climbed over the bridge - one person walked with the coolie in front and one with the coolie at the back lest they made off with the luggage .
A place was found to put the luggage down - then the coolie vanished with a promise to return .
Then there were the flies , the beggars , the ants , the trickling water , people banging into you , loafers staring at the girls / snide remarks , men selling all sorts of toys , more beggars etc etc etc .
You pay attention to the announcements and hope to hear the name of your train being mentioned .
Sometimes the train was cancelled .
At times you had to change platforms at the last minute and then there was a mad rush over the bridge - somehow the faithful coolie returned and demanded more money for the extra trip - no option but to promise 10 rupees more . More haggling ensued - now you were at his mercy and if you sent him away you were left to carry the luggage yourself as no other coolie would touch it - so strong was their bonding .
Lets cut to the chase .
You see people leaning over the platform to look to one side - you go forward to look as well- the train is rolling in. You hear the whistle and see the black  smoke .........
You breath a sigh of relief- it is over 2 hours late but better late than never .
You rush into the compartment and the collie gets your luggage in - its a free for all although its a reserved compartment - 2nd class in those days .
There are 60 berths and about 80 or more people - not counting children - you wonder how and where they will all fit in .
They all do- all over - on berths, on the floor between berths , two on a berth, near the toilet , in the toilet - anywhere and everywhere .
People make friends fast - the bonding is to keep strangers out ! Those in early are friends - those coming in later are the strangers and are shooed away .
No sign of any ticket checker so its survival of the fittest . A beggar enters singing - he has a good voice ....
The train chugs out of the platform and you wave to those who have come to see you off . At times the chain is pulled and that's a pain as the train chugs to a stop in the dark.
  You promised  to write a letter when you reach ! Or send a telegram. ( you forget when you reach )
  You open your Holdall - you make your beds - you chain your trunks and suitcases together and then to the berth - you spread out and get ready to eat .
You lay out news paper and take the tiffins out - puris / potato cutlets/ vegetable/ dry meat / mango pickle - something sweet after dinner . Its sure a hearty meal .
You get onto your berth - spin the fan into action with a comb if it refuses to start .
Your on your way .The holidays have begun

 

Michael Guzder

 

Executive Principal and CEO

 

The Millennium School, Dubai

 

 

 

 

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