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.
image
A book stall on the platform
Picture courtesy – en.wikipedia.org

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.

image
The glittering light weighing machine
Image courtesy – http://www.girlprinter.com

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.

image

Cards that come out of the machine
Image courtesy – http://www.girlprinter.com

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.

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38 Responses to An hour on the railway platform

  1. Aadhirai says:

    Nostalgic..

    The baaaam baam baaaaam of the PA and the whirring of those discs does echo in the minds.. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. NJ says:

    oh my god ..such a beautiful memoir …it just took be back to my childhood days , where we have to persuade our parents to let us check our weight on those glittery machines and that picture of the weight card just added charm to your blog πŸ™‚ And when you said book stall ..your favorite place ..I totally agreed … so many times I have been dragged out of bookstalls and stores πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sash says:

    Nice one Nirmala. Brought back memories of the weighing machine and that they never showed the right weight or that’s what we would want to believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Belinda Crane says:

    This is lovely Nimi. You took me there again of course (all aboard the Nimi train!”). I would feel a bit paranoid stepping on those scales. If it started flashing and saying something like “Warning!” I think I would die on the spot! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Traveling always makes fora wonderful story! It’s funny how these scales were used more often in the past. I guess it makes sense if many Indian people did not have their own scales at home, but I wonder if it’s also tied in to the fact that people are more weight conscious now and wouldn’t want to even be seen weighing themselves in public.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very vivid descriptions and flow of words. Great photos too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very nostalgic description Nimi and can relate to my childhood memories:)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. katelon says:

    Great post. I watched a show one time about Indian trains, new and old. It was very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. reocochran says:

    My goodness, this was a great post with wonderful and magical happenings around the railway station. I used to like the old fortune telling machines, which got rather “famous” when Tom Hanks wished to be a grown up, in the movie, “Big.” I do remember the wonderful brass weighing machines in arcades. We may have had one antique one at Cedar Point Amusement Park, years ago. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I appreciate all this and always like to see places where people are greeting and parting. It is fun to watch. Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That was a lively post! Description makes it look so lively! And its nice to know those weighing machines are still there. I used to check out during my childhood and hardly seen in my city these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Himali Shah says:

    Almost every time once in a month when I am travelling home I spend around an hour at the station. The book stalls the food stalls.. I can relate with everything πŸ˜‡

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Train travel harkens to a whole other time when life was much more simple. I could almost hear the sounds, smell the chai in your story! Well done. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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