To me, a railway station is everything that India signifies. It is a melting pot of the people from all over the country. An airport can never ever claim this spot. This shall always rest with a railway station. Simply because of sheer number it caters to everyday.
Cutting across religions, economic class, caste, age and every other thing, stations are the place where you will find a slice of India.
Some ‘slices of life’ at a railway station:
- Colors of different kinds. I remember seeing women dressed in traditional Rajasthani lehenga – choli at Udaipur station
- Best regional flavors of food across the railway stations. So there is a quaint little stall that sells Litti Chokha at New Delhi station, you can have delicious aloo tikki at Tundla station, a yummy grub of Chole Bhature at Aligarh junction, humble Poha at Ratlam station (more on Ratlam later in the post!)..all this tried and tasted! I shall update my list as and when I travel and stop by at more junctions on the way to eat!
- Wheelers! That was the world before the Flipkarts and Crosswords came in. I used to look forward to the station visit, even if to pick up someone, so I could browse through the comics or latest edition of Sports Star!
- All those picturesque stations which pass by..with hardly anyone there on the platforms. They usually are two-platforms stations and look like straight out of the movies. I still wonder where does one go if we exit the station! There seem no road, no traffic and no soul around. Just a station master with red or green torch light or flag!!
- Myriad of people waiting at the platform, speaking their languages, carrying their food. Different trains, different journeys and different destinations!
- People and their luggage. So from a hip swish trolley bag to an old style suitcase, some carry water campers and some prefer mineral water bottles, some are carrying bag full of home-cooked food and some carry a Mc Donald’s take-away..(I am a mix of both, I love the paratha-aloo jeera cooked by mom and then I like to explore station food too)
- Many would say that the festivals or holidays time is the worst to step foot on the railway platform but there is such a happy feeling at that time if you by-pass the uncomfortable. Small kids going to grandparents place in UP during summer break or an executive working in a IT firm, going home on Diwali..you will find one of each kind during these times
- Fruit carts, books and newspapers, food, soft drinks and shops selling local wares. You will find everything you may need to travel good
- Of course, you must have watched Jab we met and seen the Ratlam station! And ever since that movie got released, whenever we took Rajdhani Express to Mumbai, and it stopped at Ratlam, my cousin used to text me jokingly to not get down at the platform because,’akeli ladki khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai!’
And this picture I took last month. Jammu station.
Like any other busy station platform, full of life, people and much more.