Memorable Journey

Deccan Queen Express

Long ago, I had a chance to travel by Deccan Queen Express Train from Bombay Victoria Terminus Railway Station as it was known by this name then. Now it is known as Mumbai Chatterpati Shivaji Terminus after renaming it with 17th century warrior king Shivaji who was originator of Gorilla Warfare. The word Mumbai is derived from the name of goddess Mumba whose ancient temple lies in the centre of bullion market of Mumbai. It was here that India’s first rail trial run was conducted almost 200 years before. Later on at the same spot from where the very first train started, v.t. station was built. The station still stands in its original gothic Victorian structure. No other railway station in India looks majestic, massive, well built and primitive as that of Mumbai from where trains move out perpetually round the clock and for many, the journeys end here. Gateway of India and Hotel Taj Mahal are close by.

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Deccan Queen was possibly the best train at that time in India. It had an electric engine and stopped at only one picturesque station by the name Lonavala on the way to Pune covering 190 K.Mtrs. distance in 3 hours. Most of the well known trains had locomotives and few had diesel engines. Those were the times when people of different caste & creed traveled together and there was no inhibition as such that they should not talk to strangers and must not touch the abandoned or unattended luggage/baggage with impending danger of Bomb Blast. Then people traveling indulged in all types of gossip with known and unknown people alike. Many people used to polish their oratory skills in train compartments while participating in hot discussions muffled with speeding train rattle and voices of general public traveling thereby. They did not mind helping each other for passing hand bags, food items, toddlers etc. Then there were no such security guards or sleuths who frequently patrolled compartments with bare or concealed loaded guns for instant use in case of danger from terrorists. Those were peaceful times.

Deccan Queen compartments were interlinked which was not the case with other trains then. I strode inside and reached Dining Car which was barely two compartments away. I was really delighted to see well laid elegant tables & chairs. Tables had tapestry and flower vases. It appeared as if I am in restaurant. Some families with children were already dining. In a secluded corner a handsome well dressed boy was sitting opposite a giggling bright eyed pretty girl and it appeared that corner was a safe heaven for both of them. Some elite business class people were sitting around 2 tables in the centre with note pads in front of them. They were possibly in the process of starting a conference. All activities were well timed and I think it might have been a daily show. Most of the commuters had no luggage. They worked in Mumbai but lived in Pune to solve their housing woes. On seeing such a colourful and lively atmosphere, I straightway ordered for food. It was served well and that too promptly. As the final destination was approaching near and near, I strode back to my compartment. I reached Pune, the land of warriors, forts and learning.

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