Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Random Trainy memories

One of the earliest picture books I can recollect, was on trains.  When mother fed me morsels of food, I used to flip the pages of this thin book, which probably had just about a dozen pages.  I do not know if they had been reduced to few pages by my handling!  I had managed to salvage one page many years ago when I grew up.  But it too disappeared about 15-20 years ago.  It had full page attractive colour paintings of different railway engines and trains - in fact, they were photo-like paintings, so real and one of my favourites.  My search for it on the web gave me these two images - both from 1950s and my memory is from the 60s.  These look very similar to that.and I can never remember to have seen its cover page!

We used to play chuku-bhuku-chuku-bhuku slowly running, holding shirts of the boy in front while the leading boy was the engine. We had to run in such a way that our toes did not hit the heels of the boy in front.  The 'engine boy' mimicked the engine sound of chuku-bhuku and also the whistle sound of 'koooo... koo', with the webbing between the right thumb and index finger held to the lips.  The left arm mimicked the back and forth motion of the piston rod at its wheel.  That was a very popular game in those days. It had no meaning, except imitating the train and getting thrilled, just because the trains were that fascinating.   See this video:

Mimicry experts used to mimic the typical sound of the chugging steam engine and they still do it in the diesel engine era!!  The new generation will never understand its beauty!  It is an easy-to-do mimicry done the same way the 'engine boy' did and they do so beautifully.

Some movie songs also feature this fantastic rhythmic music of the steam engine, chuku-bhuku.

I still continue to do rail track watching even now!  It is a great pass-time on long journeys.  I could not help taking a video recently on the return trip from far away Dehra Dun! See:

People who were renown of telling untrue incidents or similar harmless stories would be nicknamed as "Railu" (ರೈಲು) meaning "Train", like my late maternal step uncle 'Gunda'.  He was so fond of getting kicks out of telling about incidents as if he was at the spot and many times he would have come up with a deviated version!  Such 'news' were 'train news' and we did not attach much value to them, because it was told by Gunda.  

Soon after my marriage, my wife, mother and late paternal aunt planned a trip to Nanjangud.  My older memories are in a separate post here. [Click].  I was the one who bought tickets at the Chamarajapuram Railway Station for the four of us.  If I remember right it was a sum of Rs.10/ I paid.  He gave me four tickets.  I was happy four persons would be traveling for just ten rupees!  It had been a long time since I had traveled to Nanjangud.  So I thought the Railways have not raised the fare by much.  We alighted at Nanjangud Town Rly. Station.  There was no rush but just a few passengers who had alighted.  We had to hand over the tickets at the gate to the Ticket Collector.  He stopped us and asked who traveled.  He saw the four of us together.  I was surprised why he was asking.  He took us to the Station Master and explained showing that we had traveled using 'Child Tickets' with half fare!!  I was completely taken aback and embarrassed.  I was completely unaware why and how I was handed over those 'child fare' tickets.  I explained it was honestly unintentional but he would not listen. The fine for this was double the fare.  Sheepishly, I paid and learnt a lesson.  The visit to the Temple was smooth our return journey by the next train 2 hours later was with the proper tickets.   

B.V.Pandit established his Ayurvedic Medicine Unit , 'Sadvaidyashala' in Nanjangud in 1913.  One of his products was the medicated tooth powder, pink, sweet and sold in paper packs.  It was very popular esp. among children notwithstanding yours truly, due to its unique flavour and edibility!  Even now it is available, but in aluminum foil packs.  Actually, I use it even now and try my own combos with different brands of tooth powders to good effect.  The beautiful 'Nanjangud toothpowder' was in so much demand that the Mysore-Nanjangud train was nicknamed as 'Toothpowder Express' and funnily, B.V.Pandit was nicknamed Baai Vaasnay Pandit [Foul-smelling mouth]!   ಬಾಯ್ ವಾಸ್ನೆ ಪಂಡಿತ್ !

The local transport unit also experimented what they called as "Road Trains". It was nothing but two buses.  The driverless hind bus was hooked behind the main bus - towing to be precise. They were in gray colour introduced in the early 70s.  It was discontinued as it faced problems while making road turns.

Small rails had to be joined together to make an oval track, a winding toy engine and a couple of little bogies behind it!  What a sight it was!  It never lasted beyond a few days and I had to be content in seeing superb solid mini models displayed in the Railway Stall of the Mysore Dasara Exhibition.

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