The first journey to Mumbai...A short recap!

January 08 1999, 1730 hrs: I found myself fighting against mosquitoes at Platform 1 of Coimbatore Junction. Myself, my Mom and my elder brother were waiting for the Mumbai-bound 1082 Jayanti Janata Express! The train was late and finally pulled in at about 1800 or thereabouts with a rust coloured Diesel loco. We were in one of the rear most coaches, and we were on our first journey towards Mumbai. The journey was exciting for me. The next morning, as I woke up - the train was running through some green areas and sometime later made it to Cudappah station. The station is surrounded by quarries of Cudappah Stone, widely used in construction of Kitchen Platforms. I still have fresh memories of the train rushing past fields full of sunflowers somewhere in Andhra Pradesh. The train was full of vendors selling stuff like Groundnut or palli as they call it in Telugu! Eunuchs made a clappy appearance in between. Pantry Staff with a huge "CR" badge selling their stuff were also making themselves known! We tried to have lunch at Raichur - the food was unarguably the worst! The train reached Solapur in the evening. Our co-passenger - a man in his 60s - was explaining to us that we are now in Maharashtra!
Just as the train left Solapur, RPF personnel asked all passengers to down the shutters for fear of burglary and stone-throwing! It was getting darker outside, and the Fluorescent bulbs were providing just the enough amount of light! We had dinner and got ready for the second night in the train. The metal shutters and the glass windows were downed as it was getting to cold. The fans were switched off! As i woke up next morning, the train had already crossed Kalyan. I remember seeing Thane station since the train had stopped there for want of a signal! The well-lit "Godrej" compound is still fresh in my memory! Some time later we found ourselves at Kurla! A sea of about 8 railway tracks with trains on most of them was a surprising sight! We crossed Dadar, and our train over took another train - which surprisingly had women in the ladies compartment! That made my mother go awe! We finally reached the Majestic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus about an hour or two late! Just as I got down from my coach, i saw a man in mid-50s wearing a "coffee" coloured sweater - That was my Dad!!! I was seeing my Dad for the first time in a sweater! He never used to wear such clothing but the cold in mumbai was too much for him! We walked slowly towards the suburban platforms! My dad told us to wait near a book stall (Which I now identify as Wheelers at Mumbai CST) while he went to purchase the required tickets! We slowly walked towards the platform....
I was seeing an EMU for the first time!!!! We boarded a compartment somewhere in the middle of the 9-Car DC EMU of CR. We took a Window seat. Just about then, the compressor of the EP brakes started and that made an awkward sound! I just couldn't bear it! The train pulled out, sped though many stations with names that was awkward for a southie! After Kurla, we saw shanties in the slums that were almost touching the EMU! One could simply stand at the door of the shantie and touch a train! The train reach Mankhurd which we promply read as "Man-Curd"! The train took the 1.6 km long Thane Creek Bridge. My dad pointed towards a huge white building and said that it was a station. Those days, EMUs did not have the protective MESH covering the horizontal bars. One could easily put his had outside!!! The train too a huge curve to enter the station - Vashi! The train ran through 5 such marvellous stations! The last of the series was Belapur - the name of this station was immediately associated with "Bhel-Puri". (Now Belapur is a very familiar station - I stay just 2 kms away from this station!) The train moved further, and we reached Kharghar. We had a tough time reading that board!!! We finally got down at a nondescript station - Khandeshwar! There was just one autorickshaw, and we (4 people with a huge luggage) squeezed into that tiny automobile! The journey time from CST to that place was close to 2 hours, and there was a train every 1 hour! That train terminates at Panvel!
The EMU ride was unforgettable - for its speed and the rush! The peculiar sound of a speeding DC EMU is always a fantasy for a railfan!!!

Comments

Krishna Kumar.S said…
Nice description about Mumbai.

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