From NDLS to Sawai Madhopur, a train journey of 5 hours but of a hundred old memories

I don’t know anyone in my huge circle (thanks to jumping schools every two years & changing jobs every three years) who doesn’t romanticise train travel. It all began with planning in those days. Papa would pack everyone’s luggage bags and mom would be in-charge of snacks. We (me, my sister and brother) would try to pack a little something extra secretively. For cheap thrills, you see. 😉 For me, the best part about train travel was finding a corner somewhere and re-reading my comic books. In my greed to buy more comic books, I would read super fast & ask my dad to buy more and more comics from the railway stations. He would never say no to anything that inculcated a habit of reading in us. As a result, all three of us (me, my sister and my brother) would get new stocks of books to devour over besan ladoos and mathris that mom brought from home.

With these fond memories and similar others, we took a train from NDLS to Sawai Madhopur recently for a weekend trip. Why? Two reasons:

1. Train travel is faster. It has taken us 8-10 hours to reach Ranthambore (Sawai Madhopur) via road in the past.

2. The route from Delhi NCR to Ranthambore, via road is quite boring. Nothing to see or look forward to. Just a long road.

The last I travelled via train was in Feb 2017. After that, just a few days back.

News flash: train travel has changed.

1. Golf carts are present at New Delhi railway station: the same golf carts that you see at airports. You now have those at the railway station too. I didn’t see anyone using those but it was a good sight. ☺️

2. Excellent Graffiti at Sawai Madhopur: Train stations are changing. Gone are the days when train stations meant huge weighing machines, makeshift snack stalls or stained walls. At Sawai Madhopur, you can enjoy beautiful wall graffiti at many places. Full marks to the administration for investing in art!

3. Neat and clean railway platforms (some of them): I was amazed to see the railway platform when I reached Sawai Madhopur. No garbage. No smells. No plastic. No stains on walls or floors. Just a tidy platform with shining tiles, and a bunch of kids playing around. We really are making progress.

While train travel has evolved, travellers haven’t. Like everything else in life, we have refused to grow up even in this walk of life. Because, let’s admit it: it’s easier to blame the government for everything than taking any responsibility for ourselves? We will just continue to do what we know the best:

1. Litter everywhere

2. Refuse to demonstrate toilet etiquette

3. Leave our legacy behind in tobacco

The other day, I was talking to a leader (at work) who’s based out of Poland. He was telling me stories about his backpacking days. Around 12-15 years back, he explored India for a good 2-3 months. And he did it via train. 🙂

I was getting ready to explain how the travelling scene in India has changed so much in the last decade. Cabs, Google maps, metro, affordable airline tickets, and car-on-rent services have made it way easier for you to travel anywhere within the country. But he interrupted me by sharing how he admired the way train travel was managed back then in India. He absolutely loved the printed ticket that he must have gotten from the counter. And apparently Indians didn’t stare (for a change). Instead they offered to help.

Upon hearing this, I couldn’t help but ask, “were you travelling in the southern part of India?”

Of course, he was. To Tanjore. Because up here in North, we love to stare everything and everyone that’s capable of reflecting light. 😀

Before the existential crisis hits you, and you ask yourself: “What am I doing with my life?”, I suggest you book a trip somewhere nearby. Of course, via train. Life will appear beautiful once again.

Why?

Because train travel would bring back the memories about the precious, childhood experiences that you had with your family. And it would also remind you how far you have come in life, how much you have amassed and gained from the time when you were a child. Enough to postpone the mid-life crisis for a few months! Aye?

Would see you next week with a new travel story! Till then, stay happy & stay safe. 🙂

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