VARAD SHARMA embarks on a journey to the ‘Rajdhani’ of our country
On the early morning of 4th March, 2014, I along with my friends boarded an express train from the city of Hyderabad for the city of Delhi. My Hyderabadi friends were excited about the journey to Rajdhani of our country, so was I.
We were scattered in different air-conditioned coaches of the train. In present times, it is difficult to travel in non-AC sleeper coaches. AC coach travel has become a necessity nowadays if you are travelling via train. There hardly seems a difference between non-AC sleeper coaches and general coaches of our train. They look all the same with more number of people than the berths.
Train travels are always a great experience. Moreover, when it is Indian Railways! You get to see people from various cultures, religion, background etc. in the train. Doesn’t train represent the idea of ‘unity in diversity’ which is the idea of our nation as well? Many people from diverse backgrounds are united by the cause of travel.
We were twenty people in total dwelling in four compartments of the train. For around twenty-six hours, the express train was our residence. In my train, there were a couple of couples travelling along with their kids. Then you can imagine the hustle-bustle in our coach.
In the afternoon, one of my friends (who was dwelling in adjacent compartment), M, served us curd rice cooked by her mother for the journey. It tasted good. In fact, home-made food is always toothsome. The curd rice was an intake over and above the railway food which we had. Let’s not talk about that!
There are various types of train-travellers. Some sleep during the entire journey. Some are busy in playing card. Some are silent observers, observing the happenings in the train silently. Some are engrossed in their novels/books. There are some who are looking for empty berths in the trains, the waiting list fellows. The type of travelers goes on and on. Well, if you ask me in which category I fall, I am blend of everything except the waiting list fellows.
My friend and I were carrying books so that we will read it during the journey. Reading during train travels has its own charm. But we hardly read after couple of pages. Our friend was cracking hilarious jokes so much that kept us away from books.
In the meantime, in our adjacent compartment which was dominated by my female friends, dumb charades was going on. My friends were having fun while one of them was capturing the moments through her lens. I too became part of the game for a while. Thanks to my friend whom I fondly address as Madam Ji (and she calls me Sir Ji). What a fun and bonding in the train!
After a good seven hour sleep, the next morning we reached New Delhi, the capital city of our country. Rather, it is the epicenter of political might as well as the political upheavals in the nation. I’ve always fallen in love with the city of Delhi whenever I paid visit. The more I visit, the more is the affection. I recalled that my friendship with one of the fellow traveler, H, started in the same city of Delhi.
So we dispersed to different locations with the intention of meeting again and roaming the city together. The visits were paid to India Gate, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Connaught Place, Red Fort, Lajpat Nagar Market etc. Almost every place we visited was getting captured. The girls and the photographs, I tell you!
After having delicious food in Delhi, one of my friends remarked that now he understands how badly the north-Indians must be missing food while staying in Hyderabad. Ah! The food and its delectableness!
I took time out of my visiting schedule and met my Kashmiri friend in Gurgaon. We had good food and above all good conversation over several topics ranging from writing, novels, books to politics and Kashmir.
Travelling is lovely, more when you are with friends. The three-day trip to the city of Delhi was full of fun, amusement and refreshing. It was quite an enjoyable experience. In fact, every travel is.