Awkward moment, a much awkward moment indeed! The whole compartment was full of passenger watching us, while we were surrounded by rail police and a rail magistrate. Our crime was traveling without a ticket.
Okay let’s rewind the scene half an hour back. We won a six-a-side football match but the opposing team didn’t appreciate the result. So they started teasing us, ending up in a fight, which we also won. We had to run away though, as they gathered more man power. And that’s when we decided to jump to this slow moving train by the football field, which resulted in us getting caught for travelling without a train ticket. The great escape: as we didn’t have enough money to pay fine or buy ticket they dropped us off at the next station which was pretty alright.
Okay, end of nostalgia. I don’t know why I began with this old memory about trains when I have tons of other memories to begin with; maybe this is the only shameful one!
And speaking of nostalgia, how about I give you little bit of younger version of me. He loved his colorful train books in his family library. So that kid, wanted to be a train driver for a while. Then he changed his mind and decided to buy a train when he would grow up. But building a train track became tricky. So the train project didn’t last long in his venturous mind, after all. Also The Bridge on the River Kwai and a few books about railroads made him downcast.
Especially if we look into the world railroad history, I’m sure that will leave us all to a mixed bittersweet reaction. In most parts of the world railroads were built by enslaved workers, prisoners of war or locals with very limited access to basic food, salary and choice. But let’s not bring politics into this, not right now. We all know the world history and know both sides of the story as well. Let’s remember those beautiful souls who died to make the world modern and more convenient,if i may say so …
Are we not fascinated by the old steam train! First the smoke then followed by the kuu kuuuu zhik zhik train. In some parts of the world they still run heritage train services. On my bucket list, I would like to add one or two train travel from here.
The longest train journey I had was 46 hours in India, travelling from Kolkata to Bengaluru. Every station differed in vibe from the others; smell, language, food, color, people, culture wise. The very first modern train trip I had in Singapore, from Singapore city to Jakarta. A very smooth train journey but passengers acted as if it was an aeroplane. Or may be my bohemian soul didn’t like too much of luxury!
Even in back home train journey always put me in right mood. Chasing the sights, shadows, the vast horizon always made me more mystic than I ever been. Watching sunrise-sunset, rain-storm or traveling in train in a winter night does put me in higher thoughts as well.
When you search Bangladesh on google,there’s an obvious photo of an overcrowded train that pops up, which always bothers me. Because that’s not everyday Bangladesh at all. That incident happens only because of Bishwa Ijtema. The venue is on the other side of the city and about 3km radius no regular vehicle is allowed, therefor people walk. And there is the train station near by with special train service. There are frequent train services for the pilgrims but don’t ask me why my fellow countrymen jump on the roof and don’t wait for another train to arrive. I guess after their devoted time they feel immortal. But the occasional accident proves that wrong!
That same sight you’ll get to see once again during Eid vacation. When half the of capital’s population wants to go home to celebrate. Train tickets become scarce, even on the black market.
Corrupted rail staff provide ladder services; you pay money and they provide a ladder for the train roof journey. It’s an unofficial-official system despite the justification.
To be honest with you, I really want to travel on a train roof one day. I did travel on the roof of bus, truck and jeep already and it’s another level of traveling if you ask me! Sitting comfortably in train seat is a normal occurrence but how about traveling standing or sitting by the train door. It’s all about experiences and how you make the best of the situations, right.
My grandfather was a railway station master although we never got to see him working. But he did bring us to main central signal station,showed us around. The old railway morse code machine always make me nosy. After his death we brought his dead body to our countryside home by a train, what a tragic end, eh. One of the slowest train journey I ever had.
Once I overslept in the train while travelling from Dublin to Shannon and forgot to change at transit station and ending up in Cork. But ticket checker was nice enough to allow me to travel without buying the return ticket!
One thing I always do during train travel is walk from one end to the other end and if it’s a long journey then you know me; a few t i m e s! That’s the most definite thing I always do no matter what. A few times I found some of my friends while I was at it. I often talk to strangers and in the train that works wonderfully. You get to know someone and all of a sudden they’re gone except for the time you both had. Time travelers..?!..
It would be incoherent if I don’t write about train stations here. I went through these stations numerous times on various occasions. Why are so many homeless people around train stations..? Is it because it’s government space ..? So that civilians can’t ask them to move out ..? Has our government finally realized that that these people have no other place to sleep..?!
And there are rail tracks throughout the Dhaka city. Yet again, we see homeless people take shelter beside it, local markets; drug zone and even random slums stagger around rail track. I got the chance to see the life around rail track in my interpretation job. I felt grief-stricken to observe the life out there and found positivity to see the hope, determination in many people’s eyes, who lived there and fighting hard to stay pleasant inside!
In the countryside though, the atmosphere is a bit different than the city life. It may be because of the laid back lifestyle but still you’ll find homeless people, Trans and prostitutes living nearby. Why has it became a regular sight at our train stations..? I know there’s a history behind it, an ugly side of the history. I will write about this very topic soon!
I’m sure it will be hard to find, s/he doesn’t like to walk on the rail track! Ohh the amount of time I walked on rail track with friends and cousins! I still do though on my own. Even a couple of months ago I was walking on a rail track for a while, I didn’t pay much attention to the on lookers though. They don’t know what they’re missing out on. Do they feel any hesitation to join themselves..haha..too bad.
So many memories to share still i’m struggling to find something unique. Everytime I hear the word, Train…my mind floats in some remote shadowy place. It’s hard to put those moments into words, may be one day you can reach there while having a cup of tea with me, yes…