My husband and I have been into ‘Ticket to Ride’ for a few days now. For those who do not know, it is a board game, which allows you to claim train routes. And while we were at it, I recalled the many train journeys that were part of my childhood. Back in the 90s, my parents, my sister and I were living in North India (Haridwar, Uttarakhand). We had to travel on train for three days to reach South India (Palghat, Kerala), where my grandparents lived. A trip that we sincerely made every summer.
While the trains lacked the luxury of clean toilets, a room to change clothes, or even any amount of privacy to have a conversation, they gave us a bounty of something invaluable: human connection. I would get down from the topmost berth in the morning, to see a group of adults dealing playing cards, or a bunch of kids running in the narrow aisle, their parents pulling at their collars for them to come back and sit. A highlight is the train food: hot samosas, bhajis, tea and coffee. We would balance the cups elegantly in our hands even as the train hiccuped to a start after stopping at a station. And as the sun grew menacing through the day, we would chug large cups of buttermilk, and give in to an exhaustion that the mere rocking of the train induces. Sometimes resting our heads on the shoulders of anyone who is next to us. Most times on the railings of an open window, letting the cool breeze wash over our faces and send us into a reverie…give us a ticket to the ride of our life.