Travelling by train in India can be an exciting and exhilarating experience, as it offers a unique perspective of the country’s diverse landscapes, cultures, and people. I recently had the opportunity to take a train journey from Mumbai to Anand, and it became an unforgettable experience, because I was doing it with a serious and special purpose.
The journey began early in the morning at 7, as I planned to board the train at Mumbai’s suburban station, Borivali. At 6.30 am, the station was bustling with activities as passengers rushed to catch their outstation and local trains. Porters scurried around with heavy luggage, and vendors sold snacks and beverages. The platform was crowded, as this is a very crowded suburb. At this time many outstation trains are scheduled along with numerous locals. I had to navigate through the sea of people to find my coach on platform 6. I was lucky to find one of India’s new swanky trains, Vande Bharat on the same platform. The train is spotlessly white. The windows are so clear that everything inside is visible in amazing clarity. Finally, when Shatabdi (12009), my train arrived, I easily found my seat and settled down for the important journey ahead.
As the train started moving, I gazed out of the window and watched Borivali station fade away, but it faded-in some very pleasant memories. The sky was clear, and the sun was just rising, casting a golden glow over the landscape and inside the train. I clicked many photographs. Some of them turned out quite good. It is not very easy to shoot perfect pictures from a running train. The train chugged along smoothly, passing through several villages and towns; Virar, Vapi, later Bharuch, Baroda, each with its unique character and charm. Initially the scenery changed from concrete buildings and busy streets to lush green fields and rolling hills. It was a refreshing change from the urban chaos of Mumbai.
As we crossed the state border into Gujarat, on the stations I noticed a significant shift in the culture and dressing. Their clothing were different from those in Mumbai. The landscape also kept changing, with more arid and barren regions giving way to vast expanses of farmland, later ponds and even rivers. But highlights of the journey was the food. The train had a pantry car that served hot and delicious breakfast; snacks, tea, coffee and beverages. Breakfast was included in the ticket price. I savoured the famous Vada Pav, a popular Mumbai street food. The food was fresh and full of great flavour.
After my stomach was comfortably full, I felt a bit sleepy, as I had woken up early today. Soon I dozed off, lulled by the gentle rocking of the train…
Passenger’s hub-hub made me open my eyes. We were approaching Anand, our destination. As the train slowed down, I gathered my small bag, ready to disembark. The station was way smaller than Mumbai’s, but it was just as busy. Carrying my bag and stepped onto the platform. As per my obsessive habit I started taking pictures with my phone. I am a very good photographer, so say many.
In a few minutes I was out of the station and faced a stream of auto drivers coaxing and asking me, “Sir where do you want to go”? I was feeling a bit tired of sitting, so I wanted to take a short walk to free up my limbs and clear my mind. Also it would take me away from those pestering auto drivers.
After about 10 minutes of walk, I was ready to engage an auto-rickshaw to go to Vallabh Vidyanagar. It has been a few years; that I wanted to complete an important project here. And that was the real purpose of this trip. I needed to calm my mind, make a call to a friend, who would be guiding me…
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