How many of you are intrigued by numbers on the locomotives like WDM-5, WAP-2, WAG-4, WDS-2 etc and their associated sheds like Erode, Golden Rock, Itarsi, Guntakal, Krishnarajapuram, Gooty, Kazipet, Ratlam etc, or love the 'Thomas the tank engine' episodes that used to come on one of the kiddo channels? Well, I do.
Train journeys always fascinate me for the reason that it becomes an experience when on one. Well I have to say, punning the original Keats' quote, "A thing of joy is a 'train' forever". A train is a symphony with the engine being the conductor and the coaches, the musicians. Travelling in Indian trains does need a significant level of patience because of their slower speeds, crowds, lower degree of cleanliness and the 'adjust maadi' (please adjust) culture of its travellers. That doesn't take away anything off the experience though.
I love the steamies/diesels for their grumble which is the engine's heartbeat. The electrics sound a tad muted because of the distributed nature of its powerful motors. The rumble and cranking of the engine (the "krug krug krug krug" sound on a Diesel) as it slowly unleashes its 4000+ horses on the tracks as it pulls its coaches, is an engineer's delight. There is a characteristic smell in the smoke of the diesels that can be nosed only in the first few coaches depending on wind draft. Most don't like that acrid smell though. There is the rhythmic ballad of wheels and track joints and the distinct sound when the train moves to another track via a switch. The quick whizzzz of an electric as it glides in and out of a station at an impressive pace, Ethereal!!!
Trains in passing!
It is a shock moment, when you are in a train, with the windows open and on an adjacent track, out of the blue, another train whizzes past with its horn at full blast. The effect is higher when you have your train moving fast as well. No better example than this to illustrate the Doppler Effect in Physics. And the eerie feeling in a night train, you get up, find the train stopped at some unknown place, peep out of the coach to see where you are, in the dull faded light of the platforms or in the middle of nowhere. The sound of the "Tea, Kaapi, Chaayè" sound of the vendors at platforms, the places with odd names that you pass by, and the scenery outside makes the trip fun. In my younger days, I was fascinated by the telegraph poles that run parallel to the track, where the wires sag in the middle between the poles and it gives a feeling of the wire travelling along with you.
And for the adventurous, how thrilling it is, to keep the compartment door open, peep out "safely" by holding the support rails, and having a blast of air on your face and to see a snaking train do its maneuvere on curvy tracks.
(To be continued at leisure ...)