Friday, June 16, 2006

This morning

Wrote this on 1st December 2005 - The day Meter Gauge (MG) trains stopped working in Delhi

As always, I stopped at the flyover passing over Delhi Cantt. station on my way to work. It was only yesterday that a YDM4 had brought in a passenger from Rewari on platform #2. Blanket wrapped milkmen removed their cans hanging from the windows in clockwork precision from the windows while an obscene amount of humanity disgorged from the doors. It may have been rustic, but it surely was reminiscent of the scene each morning at Churchgate!!

This morning though, hardly a soul could be seen on the MG platforms. At the stroke of midnight, MG in Delhi officially ceased to exist! It may have taken nothing more than a circular to wipe out MG from Delhi, but it sure is going to take a hell of a lot more to wipe out the metric memories. My first ever journey on MG was in the queen of all MG trains, the Pink City Express. I clearly remember that nippy winter morning when two gorgeous pink and cream YDM4s pulled into Delhi Cantt. hauling 21 coaches of India's finest! To my adolescent mind, twin diesels with 21 coaches at 100kmph was something only the GT & TN Expresses were capable of.

It was an unforgettable ride. Anyone who has been on meter gauge at 100kmph would know what I am talking about. It was something that no words can describe, thoug 'Orgasmic' is probably that would come closest!! At Jaipur, The Pink City lost a loco and some 8 coaches to morph into the Garib Nawaz Express named after the revered Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. We got off at Ajmer and spent an evening at Pushkar and at the Dargah. That night we spent at the upper class waiting room at Ajmer for the Chetak Express to Jaipur. I wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted me when the train entered the platform. Out of darkness came a piercing beam of light and through the steam and smoke emerged a YP with the Chetak in tow.... I was in love forever!! We spent the next day in Jaipur and took the pink city back to Delhi in the evening. That day, the train ran only till Jaipur so it had lesser coaches with a single YDM4 but the fun was no less!!

It took me another 10 years to get into an MG train again in Delhi. By then, the Pink City was long dead and the Ashram had grown to the bigger but boring BG, which ruled the roost now while MG was relegated to a suburban service to Rewari with the occasional express to somewhere in Rajasthan!! 75kmph was all that MG did now but the fun was no less. I remember all the rides on the roof with crazy Jats for company or in the front guard van with dogs, woodcutters with a forest and school children for company. I'll never forget that biting January morning when me and Bharath Moro nearly froze to death hanging on for dear life on the catwalk of a YDM4 as it belched thick black smoke right into our faces.

On this line only, I met perhaps the friendliest railwaymen. There was nothing like having chai with the gateman at Shahbad Mohammedpur as he hurled choicest abuses at the cyclists dodging an oncoming train. Inside the coaches too the atmosphere was amazing. Bidi smoke curled thick in the air while conversation in the typical Haryanvi drawl ranged from Chautala to Mallika.

A few months later the same would perhaps go on inside a BG coach as well. But I know it wont be the same again. There wiil be no more waiting at crossing stations while sharing a Red and White filter less cigarette with the driver, nor would there be an exchange of tokens. No more YDM4 and no more stupid DMU, No more MG................ Damn!!


girl said...

indeed train crazy.. as mridula said

Sidhusaaheb said...

The only MG train I recall travelling on is the one that runs on the Kalka-Shimla route. It's not quite as fast, but the ride is absolutely amazing, nevertheless.

Meanwhile, I thought the following might be of interest to you:

Sidhusaaheb said...

Oops...pardon my seems like the Kalka-Shimla rail runs on an NG line and not on an MG one!