A collection of text and photos

Kipling’s Trains

Outside, the rain is falling in sheets. Inside, the room is sparse and dimly lit. Enough to cast deep shadows on my wrinkled face. A gaggle of children is gathered in a semi circle.

I am telling them stories of a beautiful railway that existed decades ago.

Of a railway that ran through the jungles that Kipling made famous.

Of a railway that celebrated its reach despite its dimunitive size.

Of a railway that even in its last days, the light shone upon beautifully.

A railway that had the likes of the hardworking and gentle Mr. Khandekar check tickets.

A railway that let its passengers finish their tea in peace before getting going again.

A railway that was obsessed with its distance from Calcutta.

A railway that gave Ms. Rawat her job of handing over signal tokens and making possible for her daughter to attend college.

A railway that encouraged — no matter how late you arrived at the station to buy a ticket.

A railway that was built for lazy, late afternoon conversations.

A railway that had within its station compound, a library with a steam locomotive at its gate.

A railway that had broad stations that doubled up as the evening market.

A railway peaceful enough for romance to bloom.

A railway that was source of water supply for the village and allowed cows to feed on the green grass that were its platforms.

A railway that gave its office goers a chance to unwind before starting their dreary days.

A railway that once welcomed me with a dining car and served a wonderful dinner.

A railway that didn’t evict cobblers from its premises.

A railway that was the kids’ school commute option every day.

A railway that preserved its schools.

A railway that made possible for Mr. Deo to collect his pensions every month.

A railway that kept reminding everyone that there were too many people for it to carry.

A railway that stopped at places like Jhilimili and allowed one to walk down its platform lined with beautiful old teak and peepul trees.

A railway that flew in the face of normalcy and plotted to have its busiest hour in the afternoon.

A railway that constantly reminded me that speed is no guarantee of reaching somewhere quicker.