The house in which I lived before was near the railway station. Trains used to pass by at regular interval and I had become so familiar with their sound and sight that I took little interest in them. It never occurred to me that I might make a journey by train some day. However, when my father decided to take up a new appointment in the place where we now live, it was decided that we should travel by train. It was only then that I discovered how pleasant a journey by train might be.
My father, mother and I boarded a train one afternoon. As the train moved out of the station, I began to think of the days I had spent in our old house which I could still see from the train. But soon the house went out of sight, and I began to think of my journey itself.
The train was now moving quite fast. The first thing that impressed me was the beauty of the landscape. There were green valleys. Tropical plants could be seen everywhere. In certain places there was tall grass. All this reminded me of the geography lessons I had in the class room. Several palm-oil and rubber plantations could be seen now and then. Sometimes I saw a few houses here and there. I also saw many vegetable gardens at several places.
The train stopped at many stations, and soon it became dark. But sometime later the moon appeared and the landscape looked romantic. As I looked outside, I felt a thrill of admiration for the great artistry of nature.
Inside the train, too, everything was interesting. Some restless passengers moved about aimlessly and their restlessness was amusing. Some were sleeping with their mouths wide open, into which some mosquitoes blundered. Others were reading magazines and newspapers. Occasionally, the ticket-checker passed by. At one corner I saw two policemen keeping a close watch on a man who was hand-cuffed.
At every station a few passengers alighted from the train while a few boarded it. Whenever the train stopped at a big station, I saw a large number of people on the platforms, smartly dressed, and often smiling. As the train moved out, many waved their hands and the passengers too waved in response.
After we had passed several stations, I felt sleepy and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw the dim light of the dawn. I looked outside and saw the mist-covered plants. The air was fresh, and some birds were flying about. The scene looked extremely beautiful and I was lost in admiration of it. But we soon arrived at our destination and my enjoyment came to an end.
Talk about a slow train journey.
There is only train plying from X to Y, I had no other choice. The line is a narrow gauge. It passed through farming country and it mainly carried farm produce, although passengers were often using it too. At every station on the way to be loaded and unloaded involving much shunting which took a lot of time. It took nearly four hours for a distance of 60 km.
I traveled once by that train. At first I could not believe that a train (in this age) could go so slowly. I had to put up with it. The train moved at a snail’s pace and one could almost get down and get back on it. I did not try it because it was not safe for such foolhardy experiments.
The train stopped to pick up baskets of eggs, hens, vegetables and other farm produce. Naturally, those who traveled by this wonderful train were farm workers moving either form one estate to another or going to town for a change. The train was not clean. The familiar sights of newspaper and magazines were not found at the stations. The stations on the way were manned by a skeleton staff, the station master and the pointsman doing all the duties. There are only two trains for the whole day and life to them is boring.
The journey was interesting for me and I got down whenever the train stopped to load or unload. There was no milling crowd of color I could see. There was not even a soft beverage to drink I could see. How they shunted the wagons. It was interesting to see the people who came to take their goods. There were all sorts of baskets, hampers and baggages. One of the loading was done, the train would start again and go on.
Since the train ran through farming country. I could see farms all the way, with their gardens, poultry, cattlesheds and granary. I couldn’t see any tall building. I could see a calf looking with fear at the streaming train: a half of naked boy goggling at the passing train and people engaged in the farming activities.
After a while, it all got boring. Anyway, it was good to relax from a hectic city life.
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