Friday, 4 July 2008

Nandu and the Indian Railways

Nandu has been in love with trains ever since he was a little boy.

During summer vacations when his cousins retire to the cooler confines of the house and play board games, waiting for the hot afternoon to ease off till it was cool enough to go out and play, Nandu purposefully strides out to the ground in front of his house. There, under the blazing sun, he draws up a huge rectangle on the hard earth with his big toe. Standing on one corner of the rectangle, with great pomp and ceremony, he proclaims himself to be a certain train, say the Mangalore-Madras Mail, and starts running.

Nandu the train, eases out of the platform slowly, gradually picking up speed, accelerating gracefully and very soon is shrieking past minor stations and sundry level crossings, deep gorges, and dry riverbeds, dilapidated temple tanks and bustling market places, oblivious to the verdant countryside flashing past. He runs and runs, to the consternation of the elders in the house, and slows down only when the next ‘station’ approaches.

Stories about his obsession with trains abound, most of them not apocryphal. His mother takes him on a night train and he refuses to sleep, getting up at each station to note down the name of the station in his little diary. One of his uncles is leaving for Calcutta and young Nandu requests him to bring back the timetable of Eastern Railway as a gift!

On yet another journey, the train stops at a particular station and remains there for a very long time. It is summer and quite hot and uncomfortable inside the compartment. The passengers become listless. One of the passengers comments that maybe the train is waiting to give way for the Malabar Express, coming from the opposite direction.

Nandu, with no touch of self-consciousness, earnestly assures the passenger that this cannot be. The Malabar Express has already crossed them fifteen minutes ago. As there are no trains scheduled to reach this particular station at this particular time, the only reasonable conclusion that can be is that they are waiting for a freighter train to pass.

Sure enough, five minutes later, a “goods” train trundles past in the opposite direction.

But the story I like the most is about Nandu and the station master of Lovedale station, which is the second part of this post.

Picture Courtesy: Bill Gracey's Public Gallery. Picasa Web Albums

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

loved this post!This post brings back such lovely memories of our childhood, Nandu's obsession with trains being one of the more amusing aspects of it!! Gotta love ole Nandappan.. eagerly awaiting a follow up.

Anonymous said...

this is THE BOMB DUDE! =D

Nandagopal said...

That was awesome, had never imagined you remembered so well!! Yes, it was a warm April morning in 1983 in a journey to meet grandparents that we were waiting at Karakad station for the crossing aboard the no.47 (now 6347) Canannore express. The single line from SRR to MAQ during those days ensured lots of 'crossing' blues.
Looking forward to your next post.

Nandagopal said...

That was awesome, had never imagined you remembered so well!! Yes, it was a warm April morning in 1983 in a journey to meet grandparents that we were waiting at Karakad station for the crossing aboard the no.47 (now 6347) Canannore express. The single line from SRR to MAQ during those days ensured lots of 'crossing' blues.
Looking forward to your next post.

Dileep said...

I hope you don't forget to mention that his great uncle called him Train!
Tis a warped family, what with Viju remembering Qatar Open results from 1995, and my unfortunate total recall of goals from the Milk Cup in 1983.

Anonymous said...

I am always awed by a magnificent obsession like Nandu's. Most children outgrow their childhood passions, but not Nandu. Wish I could feel the same passion about something.
Meena.

harini calamur said...

lovely post.... there are lots of people who are 'in love' with trains.
i know of someone who loved trains so much that knew the timetable of every train that ever ran ...
my own brother has different names for trains with different types of engines ...he just used to make them up ..he was three at that time .. but the obsession still continues :)

Rada said...

@Family: Shalini, Anu, Deepu, Nandu & Meena, Thank you so much for your comments!

@Harini: Welcome to my blog.
Maybe we should make these two train afficiandos meet? :-)

Gaurav said...

excellent comment Nabdu..
child hood memories are been cherished...
keep posting..
gaurav
(gauravkaushik.gk@gmail.com)

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.