Train journeys in India are amusing at some level. If you are not especially used to travelling by train, the idea of a train travel is a little appealing. Perhaps it is the experience of the train or the novelty of something long forgotten that lures you in. Or perhaps it is just the feeling of experiencing something new or different that engulfs you. Whatever the driver is, it certainly arouses a sense of curiosity and anxiety within you.
Oh, and by the way, I’m not talking about local train travel in Mumbai, which only arouses a feeling of fear, dread and realisation of war-like hell. I’m referring to the long-distance trains run by Indian Railways, which have a unique pull towards them, be it through the hustle-bustle of prominent stations that sell cheap ‘masala’ Indian-authored books or the fast-paced activity at these stations that induces an adrenaline rush even in a calm sober person.
That is also the way our train journey to Bangalore began a couple of years ago. After boarding the train, one of the fastest on the Mumbai-Bangalore route then, the Udyan Express, to attend one of my oldest friends’ wedding, we settled in quickly and felt victorious, at nothing in particular.
The journey was smooth was for the first few hours I suppose, as most of it was spent chatting and whiling away time at small talk and catching-up with old pals. But once the consistent chug-chug of the train gets into your blood, the train journey gradually starts feeling a little melancholic.
That probably is the reason people shifted to air travel in India, but that is for another post. To use the concepts of economics, it is the marginal utility of spending one more hour in the train that starts depleting faster than a salaried individual’s bank balance, reminding one of the horror known as the “month-end”. The marginal utility is phenomenally high for the first few hours of the journey, reaching its peak a while into the journey and then starts sinking faster than the Titanic.
Our travel was not much different. The initial chatter eventually faded, the group had fewer discussions to excitedly pursue and people began drifting off to sleep.
That is when a couple of us, not wanting to be bored, did the most obvious thing to keep us awake and un-bored – photography. Or to be more specific, random photography, that adds no value or serves no purpose other than to keep us awake and occupied. We went on a spree of taking random photos, some of which I have ‘Instagrammed’, and hopped around the train, strolling from bogey to bogey, wandering around like purposeless travellers searching for their long-lost brother at Kumbh Mela. We alighted at every halt to stamp our mark on the station we were at.
I think it began at Kurduvadi Junction, where we got off and roamed around the station like we had known it for years. Apparently, we should have known it for years, because it has some historic significance that is mentioned in our local History textbooks, according to one of my Instagram friends, who enlightened me on the matter. But all that did not seem to matter. The long stop of the train for a crossing at this junction gave us ample opportunity to mark our arrival stamp on this station.
Solapur deserved the same treatment. One of the more important cities in Maharashtra, Solapur always tends to be a longer halt for long-distance trains. Ample time to stretch our legs and use our camera, I say.
The journey did not seem so uneventful any more. Frequent halts at random stations gave us enough opportunity to escape the constant pose of sitting in one place engulfed by parental conversations, and we took to it like bees to honey. Little did we know that the journey was about to take a complete about-turn to be one of the most hilarious ones in my life ever, thanks to a station named “Yadgir”, which deserves special mention in the next post.