A Railway Experience Of Yore

locomotive and animals, vector illustration




My mother was one who would wear the traditional Iyengar 9-yard saree day in and day out. While travelling, she would never carry a purse or a handbag to keep things like money, keys safe. All she had to do was take the upper border of her sari and tuck it into her waist in such a way as to form a pouch next to her body and she believed that it was the safest place for whatever she wanted to keep safe.

The railway trip I am talking about was the one we undertook from Bangalore to Davanagere, a distance of 220 miles where my mother was going for the confinement of my eldest sister.  We two, the inseparable duo- my niece and I (all of 11 years of age) were studying in Davanagere and we were going back after a summer break in Bangalore. In addition to all our luggage, my mother was taking a green metal strips cradle with a metal stand in the III class compartment for the baby to be born.

Davanagere was only an interim station for the Bangalore-Poona train. Hence, the halt there was just long enough to get down and unload our luggage including the awkward piece, – the cradle and the stand. Obviously, there was a big rush of ingoing and outcoming passengers. In the melee that ensued, my mother’s “madisar” pallav came off and she had a tough time collecting herself.

As the train left on its onward journey, we loaded the luggage on to a porter and prepared to leave the station platform. My mother suddenly discovered that along with the pallav, her saree ‘’pouch’’ at the waist also had come off and the tickets (one full and two half) were nowhere to be seen. (Probably they were lying on the compartment floor and were already on their way to Poona!) How to get past the ticket collector without them?

My mother was a smart and resourceful lady. She asked the two on us to run home, a matter of a furlong or two and get my brother-in law who being a Manager in Indian Bank was a VIP in that small industrial town.

We could not exit through the TC’s gate. So, we both ran all along the iron grill separator on the platform till it ended and then entered the town. We were not doing anything illegal. We HAD purchased the tickets but had lost them. Once in town, we ran (we never walked those days) through the familiar streets and reached home, which was attached to the bank. Our brother -in law who was otherwise busy in bank work was called out and the situation was explained to him. He instantly took his Man Friday Abdul Razzak to the station, talked to the Station Master and managed to get my mother out of the TC gate- cradle and all.

cartoon courtesy shutterstock.com