Thursday, September 16, 2010

Traveling time



Go Air has announced a direct flight from Pune to Kochi (Cochin) The flying time being just 2 hrs.
I was just comparing this with how we used to travel from Bombay to Cochin. The travel time ? Well let me put it this way, we reached the third day.
Oh yes we used to board the train in the morning around 8 am from Bombay VT (now Mumbai Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus)
This train runs with an electric engine upto Poona (now Pune) The ride upto Pune was real fun, passing through the Sahyadiri ghats, passing through 22 tunnels hauled up by 2 engines from Khandala to Pune. When we pass Pune we could see rows and rows of cycle parked outside Shivajinagar station. It was a feast for the eyes as we never did see so many cycles together. In those days Pune was known as the city of cycles. From there onwards it was the steam engine which hauled us through 4 states, almost touching the east coast of the country.
India Agra 9th June
1981
It had a halt of 6 hrs at Arkonam station. Passengers used to go out have a bath, have lunch, venture out to see a MGR+Amma movie, and be back to continue the onward journey.

The hazard of trying to look out from the window was another thing. You had to do it at the risk of small specks of hot coal going in your eyes.

But you get to learn many things along the way, like how the signaling system used to work in those days. They had those huge ring shaped hoop, something like the shape of a huge tennis racket (with no guts) in which the key was enclosed in a pouch near the handle. When the train passed a station where it did not have to stop, this hoop was held by the signal man at arms distance at the station, which was scooped up by the train driver or fireman with his extended hand which was held at 90 degrees bend at the elbow.(Its done vice versa when the driver had to pass it on to the station) In UK they had a gadget fixed on the ground to take the loop.
Waiting
This key was delivered at the next station by which the signal was opened for the next following train.  
A simple system, and once you understood it, you will realise how completely fool proof it was. Maybe that explains how there were hardly any accidents in those days compared to the present electronic signaling system.
It was also interesting to observe the shunting and the precision with which they attached one bogey to another.
shunting
As the states changed, the languages changed and so did the food. But we did get good hot food from the passing stations. Once the train passed Ottapalam you know you have reached Kerala just by the greenery and the fresh air.
Now the same traveling time will be cut down to just 2 hrs by the announcement by the airlines. Incidentally Go Air is owned by Jehangir Wadia, the great-grandson of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan

Talking of airlines,  I saw a news item in yesterday’s paper about the new look that they are planning to give the Indigo air hostess. They will sport a chic blue tunic, a stylish cap and a special hair cut. Those who don’t want to cut their hair can wear a wig, it says. 
The things they have to do to keep up with the competition.
Talking of competition, here is something on upmanship in advertisement:


47 comments:

Summer Ross said...

sounds like a mini vacation. We don't even have train stations here in Wyoming to ride in. we have hauling trains, and just recently got a public bus system that wasn't for school kids. :)

Harman said...

..Quite an information...strange how things existed!!
Big advertisements reminds me of India..

vineetasdiary said...

I miss those train days!!! But u hv paid lot of attention to the details whereas I always just hogged on food on all stations :P But no comparison for those fun picnic rides to places in trains :)

Katie said...

Very interesting!

Anu said...

when we were kids, we rarely had to take connecting trains, since we mostly travelled only to madras or delhi, which had direct connections from bombay.. but this post reminded me of all the stories my mom used to relate about travelling from delhi to madras or bangalore.... even in these days of fast paced travel, i prefer taking the train to flying, and thank goodness, my son likes it too.... and reading about all the details about the loop reminds me of conversations with my cousins who are avid railway enthusiasts!!

Renu said...

I hope my comment got posted.

Susan Deborah said...

Goodness dear!! Joe, you sure know how to connect a personal anecdote with the wider picture. The narration with the pictures never fail to capture our imagination and knowledge.

Have a good weekend, Joe.

Joy always,
Susan

RGB said...

How things have changed over the years...interesting insight. Some competition those hoardings portray!

A said...

wow nice pix depicting the story

Tomz said...

My most memorable train journey is the kalka shimla toy train. Unfortunately i dont have any pictures of it..The last funny ad collage was smart.

Insignia said...

The train journey in itself is a vacation. The foolproof system, the experience of a rail journey across the rivers and the mountains and the plains....hot food and beverages...

The aggressiveness in advertisement - India is growing market segment; everyone wants a share

joey said...

A very interesting blog and delight to visit. Thank you for connecting.

Renu said...

sorry..sometimes blogger creates this confusion..I wanted to say that may be earlier signal system should be used even today and may be in everything progress is not such a good thing. I liked your post.

Shalini said...

Even I used to travel by train from Delhi to Coimbatore-3 days in train! Lovely days they were...forcing Appa to get me the hot medu vadas or bajjis and chutney when the vendor goes. I also used to sort my comic books and novel and choose the best ones for reading in the train.
Nice post.
P.S-Couldnt find you Facebook! Too many Joe Zachs. Can you add me-Shalini Subramanian-I have put up my pic with a dog. :)

radha said...

Yes, yes, I remember those train days. And especially the coal specks that would hurt the eye, but nevertheless we would fight for the window seat! The old first class compartments! Stations were small and quaint. It was such fun! Now the journey by plane may have shortened the travel time, but consider the journey to the airport that in most places take over an hour, and then the check in time, flight delays....

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

Love the description of the old steam train - yes that key system worked really well.

NRIGirl said...

Thank you so much for the post. I am sure flight journey is so boring compared to the scenic ride in train for days...

We have to give the credit to the marketing people for the catchy ads.

~ NRIGirl

George said...

Thanks for the description of the journey during the days of steam locomotives. Travel was a real adventure then.
I got a real chuckle out of the billboards in your last picture.
Thanks for visiting my site.

Rachna said...

Nice post. Loved the trip down the memory lane.

Natalie said...

Facinating! The world is getting smaller...isn't it wonderful? :)

imac said...

Its fun to ride a steam train, we get so few here in the UK, only private run trains.
Thanks for your visit and kind comments.

Callie said...

Sometimes the old ways are best. I have always loved train travel. Getting to places quickly is very nice, but if I have time I enjoy traveling slowly. I enjoyed reading about your train journeys.

Leilani Lee said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. When I saw your name "Haddock" I suddenly remembered back to when I was a little kid, and I would lay on my back on the grass and look up at the sky and pretend I was underwater. But I did not pretend I was a mermaid or something like that; no, I pretended I was a jack mackerel. The U.S. used to have amazing passenger train service criss-crossing the country but it has mostly disappeared. We took a very enjoyable train trip once from the Midwest to the West Coast. Nothing quite like a steam locomotive!

magiceye said...

:) a 'those were the days my friend...' moment

Kiran Bajaj Sawhney said...

Such insightful and interesting post. There were so many facts that I did not know, that I got to know from your post. I loved that advertising campaign. Great Blog. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your comment.

chitra said...

That was a nice journey from Mumbai to kochi. Once my husband was explaining how that signaling system worked and how efficient it used to be. The pictures are making a it very clear.Good post.






Dr.Sameena Prathap
said...

Hi,

My first time here...Dat was a well written article...

Dr.Sameena@

www.lovelypriyanka.blogspot.com
www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

Juliana said...

Nice and interesting post...enjoyed the photos :-) I just traveled once by train.

Christine said...

good post!
I intend on making a train journey during my next trip back to the motherland. No plans for the trip at this time, though.

Martina said...

Nice to share your traveling experience - the train reminds me of the film "Darjeeling Limited" that i love!

Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog to say hi. We heard trains passing by all day while we were at the beach on our little vacation last week. They weren't coal operated though :-)
My parents met in St. Louis many years ago, and said the entire city at that time was heated and ran on coal. They said there was coal everywhere. That is something we don't experience here anymore either.

Indrani said...

Very interesting description of the travel, I am reminded of my travels from TVM to Cal. :)

Michelle said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Yours is FASCINATING.

A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

What a cool blog. Great post!

Marlene said...

Cool blog! Thanks for visiting!

Deepa Krishnan said...

Lovely article, Joe. Reminded me of our long train rides to Kerala, and how you would arrive black and smelling of soot :)

Bardot said...

Great one Joe! Very informative and reminds me of the wonderful days of travelling from Dehradun to Mumbai in Bombay express and reaching on the third day! That used to be suh a time!

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello:)

Many times I traveled from Kochi to Calcutta and to New Delhi by train and it took days of tedious travel, sitting in the compartment for almost two and half days is like doing a great penance.

I used to travel by Ship from Panaji to Bombay by ship and it took almost twenty four hours.

Air travel has made traveling easier and faster and convenient.But I can't digest the fact that the restaurants in the airport charge fancy amounts for simple things like samosa and tea.They are fleecing the air passengers.

Very interesting post and I am also a fan of MGR.

Best wishes:)
Joseph

raji said...

nice post ..quite informative..

Anonymous said...

Another thing......My father was a great inovator. While travelling in those days of steam engines, he, during long stops at stations, would carry a steel mug and approach the steam engine driver.Why? He would request hot steam water, which the driver will oblingingly will provide by opening a particular steam cock. The hot steam water was then mixed with tea, and sugar and some milk (liquid milk please - not packaged milk (they were simply not there then!), and hey presto! Hot steaming espresso tea was ready! How ingenious! And how simple! Jack

fred.m.miller said...

Thanks for alerting me to a nice flashback to the old days when I was just a boy always excited to make that train trip to Bombay for the Summer holidays. I did not make any trips as far as Kochi but did get to Secunderabad in 'style' since one of my uncles was a Locomotive Engineer and often drove trains. I got into the 'driver's seat' in Hyderabad with all the burning coal and gave the train whistle/signal whenever we pulled in or out of stations !

The comments here have all focused on the journey and food, but it was the myriad personalities we were subjected to that made the ride even more fascinating and memorable, like the fruit, chai and samosa vendors to mention a few. The dining car where heavenly smells of toast, butter and coffee engulfed the compartment....simple treats that were made more exciting by the anxious wait to place our order and then hope we would get it.....and we always did, in spite of rubbing shoulders, backsides etc with hundreds of sweaty strangers climbing over sleeping travelers on the floor to get to the toilets while shoeshine boys sang the latest filmi hits to attract the sympathy and praise of all......
hmmmm......am I doing a blogpost here or am I leaving a comment ???

Thanks again, buddy.....keep 'em rolling !

Madhu said...

Nostalgia!

Sovina said...

hey thanks for stopping by my blog..i so much like this post of yours..the old train feeling brings back so many memories..love the bollywood pic that u have used..nice :)

sovina
http://weddingonthecards.blogspot.com

Sovina said...

and, happy to be your newest follower :)

Barbara said...

Hi Joe, your comment on my garden blog (thank you) inspired me to take a look at your blog - and what a coincidence! I spent some time in India in the 70ies and many many hours on long train trips there, which were always a marvelous adventure. Your post took me back to this time. I do remember well the stretch between Mumbai and Pune. I hope flight travel doesn't kill the railroad culture.

dr.antony said...

A trip down the memory lane. I remembered my first train journey to Malabar with my parents,when I was about 5 years.Steam locomotives were fun,and I loved the smell of it,except the coal dust which would be flown in.
What a combination! MG Annan and Thai.I really miss him. His red pants,green shirt,yellow neck tie and white shoes and a wig larger than his face.My friend Dr Anand and myself got a big collection of MG movies and enjoy them at weekends,and laugh and laugh to fatigue.
Excellent post.

Maddy said...

enjoyed reading this - some years back i had written about travel by trains too - i love trains, i guess. great trips firmly implanted in memories, and cannot be beaten by a 1.5 hr flight.
the new uniform for the hostesses looks great if u ask me...