An hour on the railway platform

On a recent holiday in India, we travelled by train a couple of times. Travelling by train in India is a fun experience, but the part I enjoyed the most, was the wait on the platform before our train arrived.

The railway platform is an ecosystem by itself. We had time to kill and so walked up and down.

‘Organized chaos’ is how I would describe it. People were everywhere. The bright lights made the place come alive. Red-shirted porters walked up and down, hawk-eyed, looking for prospective customers.

There was a cozy book stall (my favourite place) that sold books, lots of books and comics and magazines.
A book stall on the platform
Picture courtesy –

There was a stall selling hot milk, coffee, tea and almond milk. We tried the hot almond milk. Delicious!

Travellers in various stages of travel were milling about. Some ready to go home. Some just starting their journeys (you could make this out from their well-groomed apperance and compact luggage). Some waiting to catch a connecting train.

The cacophony of voices was periodically broken, when the PA system announced the arrival and departure of trains.

There were vendors with trays containing take-away food. Then, the men who sold tea with their trademark chant – “Chai, chai, chai, chai”, delicately balancing plastic cups and the tea urn, and moving deftly in that limited space.

We walked down further, and saw the glittering weighing machine with its dancing lights and spinning disc.

The glittering light weighing machine
Image courtesy –

My husband and I smiled, as both of us remembered our respective childhoods – when checking one’s weight on the railway platform weighing scale, was a must-do activity.

The machine had a slot for a one rupee coin. Once we stood on the scale and put the coin into the slot, the lights would start flashing and a disc would start spinning. After about 30 seconds, the machine would spit out a small cardboard card, which had your weight on one side and a message on the other side.

I recently read an article that these machines were put in place during British times in India, when people did not have personal weighing scales in their homes.

We stood looking at the machine and remembering. No takers now. People just walked past the machine.

We called our children and ask them to get on the machine. Then my husband and I did the same. More for the thrill rather than to know our my weight. Four cardboard cards came out.


Cards that come out of the machine
Image courtesy –

My daughter and son called out their messages and read out their weights. I only looked at the message-side of the card.

We walked back to where our coach number was listed. Just then the PA system announced the arrival of our train. The metal serpent slowly trundled in, off-loading weary travellers and inviting the new ones on board.