It’s not just buses, double decker trains have their own flavours and personalities. A journey to remember as my neighbour was keen to know all about my marital life and the children I had, so she thought.
Double Decker–we are travelling back from Jaipur to Delhi in a Double Decker train…I looked at the two media people with me. The young host kept looking at me, wondering whether I liked the idea or hated it. She didn’t know how to react. And hesitantly went onto tell me that she had got our breakfast packed as the train left early in the morning. I think it’s going to be an experience to remember, I told her with a flat face and watched the smile come back and relief spread on her face.
So, the first sight of the double decker was quite a pleasant one. It looked like a normal train. There was nothing alarming thing about it. A lot of people sat on the top and a lot on the bottom and some on the side. We had a seat at the bottom tier. Were the ones sitting above going on fall on our heads? No, assured the man sitting adjacent.
We, three women of all ages, sat together in a row of three. A small passage in the middle and there were seats for two. We were busy adjusting ourselves, aisle for me and being the eldest, none countered my decision. And then arrived a comparatively young lady, dressed in traditional Rajasthani saree with a waistband and all. The lady was accompanied by her brother, who settled her and the three children and the five pieces of luggage. The children were fighting who would get the window seat, while the younger one simply settled in the mother’s lap.
Marriage, Guwahati and more
The train slowly jerked its way out of the station. And then began the rounds of the vendors with their shouts for tea, soup, coffee, cold drinks, veg and non-veg breakfast.
While the three of us chatted and gossiped, the lady was busy trying to control her three children. And then we got chatting with her. In a traditional Indian manner, her first question was whether I was married, and if the young one sitting in the window seat far off was my daughter. My young companions were busy stifling their giggles.
I looked the lady very seriously and replied if God had been kind to me, I would have had a child like my young host. But alas, no one would marry me…and now I was an old spinster trying to find happiness in these young girls’ company.
She didn’t believe me, just looked at me, and the ready-to-burst-out laughing faces of my companions were growing redder by the seconds. They were busy putting their hands on their mouths and trying not to look rude.
“Don’t pull my leg,” she said, not deterred. “You are so pretty, anyone would marry you.”
I told her that men don’t think like that about me, my hair is growing white and I need to dye it often. And I am not compatible with children. Her eyes grew bigger and bigger. Almost everyone in the seats around us was busy hearing our conversation and looking at my sad face. All of them had smiles but the lady was not embarrassed.
So changing tracks, the sweet young lady told me that her husband was in the army and she was travelling all the way from desert land to the far northeast where her husband was stationed. I heard all about her tough life and bringing up the children alone as the husband was not getting a family station. All this while we had tea, ate our breakfast.
The conversation continued as to how worrying it was with so much luggage and three children. Though someone would help her deboard and board another train at Delhi, she fretted at every sentence. All through the four-hour journey, we crossed station after station, but her mind was on how she would manage the load. Just before reaching Delhi, she sat near the door with the five pieces and the three children clinging to her. We offered to help but she only fretted.
So from Rewari to Gurgaon to Delhi, she was seated near the door. Finally home, I kept wondering if she had managed to reach Guwahati in a happy state. Trains have their own flavour, they leave you with enough time to explore the surroundings, the people in the chairs and their behaviors and the amount everyone eats!
Train info: Jaipur Dee Double Decker – 12985, departs from Jaipur at 6am. For bookings, click https://www.makemytrip.com/railways/jaipur-dee-double-decker-12985-train.html