Towing NaMonetization*…

*NaMonetization – a word coined by me… if you use it, please quote the source from my Urban Dictionary…

Friday, November 11, 2016

As a kid travelling across the country in a number of trains, I developed this keen sense of what moves the trains and when… of course, a first assumption is, as my younger sister, younger as she was to me by 4 years, would tell me with a straight face…

“It is the Engine, Silly”…

Of course… undoubtedly… how stupid of me not to have thought of that…

Born in a Railway family… where my father would matter-of-factedly bring a 7-Up or a 14-Down to the dinner table conversation… the trains, their numbers, the routes… and as such, the 3 and 4 letter station codes were a part of my early vocabulary…

And with that, my cosmic fascination about what makes the long snaking brown passenger coaches move… till my father showed me the innards of a monstrous black steam engine on one of the trips that we were making to our native town in Odisha… a trip that was our staple during our summer vacations…

Being employed in the Railways, my father used to get his way around most stations, platforms, station masters – guess he knew most of them in the country… and at times, their family members and their neighbors too… and the Steam Engines…

The Steam Engine held many secrets in its huge titanic tummy… the Black was always more Bold than Beautiful… and my father used to make a regimental trip to the Engine each time it used to stop… the pretext was just to say hello to the Engine driver and his assistant… who universally were blackened on their skin by the soot and dust and blended with the landscape of the blackness of the Engine itself… wore their dark blue uniforms… pulled those various levers in front of the gigantic fire that burned with shovels of coal thrown into the pit…

But it was always the stylish bandannas on their head that they wore that was most captivating for me… it gave me the impression of a free-wheeling Samaritan who had the power to pull all those brown dust-laden brown passenger coaches… tied together, as I understood, by some iron thread… ran on iron wheels… on iron rails…

I remember the passenger coach we used to travel on most occasions used to be the 4-berth, exclusive 1st class coupe (as it was called)… one of the eccentricities that he was not entitled to in his rank and role in the Railways… but which, he used to manage through ‘Jugaad’… and his pre ordained trips from the coach to the Engine were always to give something to the driver and staff… say, food from the basket that my other used to pack… and get something back in return… say, the hot water that generates the Steam in the Engine…

The hot water was useful for a variety of small little pleasures such as making your own tea with the tea leaf that my mother packed along in the food basket…

As the innards of the Steam Engine became visible to me, my intrigue grew… as to how the Engine never slept… how it was always there to move… and make hundreds and thousands of people move along with it in one go… and I had thought at that time, that the drivers never slept too… and that it was the same Engine and the drivers who pulled us on our trip… our entire trip… origin to destination… a 40 hour trip at times…

Till a little later in life… I gaining knowledge around how Engines and drivers are retired to sleep and refresh after every 8 hours… and another Engine and driver would then take over and drive us further…

The time during the change of guard, however, always seemed interminable and was spent in despair… I knew the old Engine has been detatched from the first coach and another, new Engine is going to be attached… this change was evident through a slight nudge that the new Engine gave to the entire train when it came in contact with the first coach… and the entire train moved back a little on the rails…

The slight nudge at times, was not really slight… particularly when it was somewhere in the middle of the night when the entire train load of passengers were sleeping and did not expect the nudge to make a huge rumble and reverberation…

But I guess – the Engine was usually a lot more ROTUND… and the driver a lot ROBUST in his behavior… at that hour of the day… er… night…

The train always had an interesting mix of travellers… a lot of them would curse the inefficient way the Engine was attached which rudely woke them from their slumber… some would pile abuse on the driver…

But in those times, while I woke up with a start, the new Engine and the driver brought hope for me… the new Engine will now pull the train into the morning… out of darkness… it brought motion… towards the next station… and my destination… as well those of many in those trains…

In my many years of travelling in trains now… and having known many Engines and drivers… I found a new driver earlier this week… a ROTUND driver actually, with a 56” diaphragm… driving a ROBUST newly oiled Engine…

This time, the wait time before this Engine was attached to the train was interminable… the attaching of the Engine, as it was in the middle of the night, was not slight, but with a loud rumble… the curse of the travellers in deep slumber… the abuse heaped on the driver…

But there is Hope… the Steam Engine is replaced (hopefully) with a new Range Rover Discovery Engine… towing a 125 crore tonne train…

And the Driver is dressed well in WHITE… with no Bandanna on his head…

Towing NaMonetization… there is HOPE…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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