by Shashanka Nanda
As always, I stopped at the flyover passing over Delhi Cantt. station on my way to work. It was only yesterday that a YDM4 had brought in a passenger from Rewari on platform #2. Blanket wrapped milkmen removed their cans hanging from the windows in clockwork precision from the trackside windows while on the platform and obscene amount of humanity disgorged from the coaches. It may have been rustic, but it was reminiscent of the scene each morning at Churchgate!!
This morning though, hardly a soul could be seen on the MG platforms. At the stroke of midnight, MG in Delhi officially ceased to exist! It may take nothing more than a circular to wipe out MG but it is going to take a hell of a lot more to wipe out the metric memories. My first ever journey on MG was in the queen of all MG trains, the Pink City Express. I clearly remember that nippy winter morning when two gorgeous pink and cream YDM4s pulled into Delhi Cantt. hauling 21 coaches of India's finest! To my adolescent mind, twin diesels with 21 coaches at 100kmph was something only the GT & TN were capable of. It was an unforgettable ride. Anyone who has been on it or the Ashram or the Vaigai at 100kmph would know what I am talking about. It is something that no words can describe. Orgasmic is probably that would come closest!! At Jaipur, The Pink City lost a loco and some 8 coaches to morph into the Garib Nawaz Express named after the revered Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.
We got off at Ajmer and spent an evening at Pushkar and at the Dargah. That night we spent at the upper class waiting room at Ajmer for the Chetak Express to Jaipur. I wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted me when the train entered the platform. Out of darkness came a piercing beam of light and through the steam and smoke emerged a YP with the Chetak in tow.... I was in love forever!! We spent the next day in Jaipur and took the pink city back to Delhi in the evening. That day, the train ran only till Jaipur so it had lesser coaches with a single YDM4 but the fun was no less!!
It took me another 10 years to get into an MG train in Delhi. By then, the Pink City was long dead and the Ashram had grown bigger but boring. BG ruled the roost now while MG was relegated to a suburban service to Rewari with the occasional express to somewhere in Rajasthan!! 75kmph was all that MG did now but the fun was no less. I remember the rides on the roof with crazy Jats for company or in the front guard van with dogs, a jungle and bidi smoke for company. I'll never forget that biting January morning when me and Bharath Moro nearly froze to death hanging on for dear life on the catwalk of a YDM4 as it belched thick black smoke right into our faces.
On this line only, I met perhaps the friendliest railwaymen. There was nothing like having chai with the gateman at Shahbad Mohammedpur as he hurled choicest Haryanvi abuses at the cyclists dodging an oncoming YDM4. Inside the coaches too the atmosphere was amazing. Bidi smoke thick in the air while conversation in the typical Haryanvi drawl was fun to hear.
3 months later the same would perhaps go on inside a BG coach as well. But I know it wont be the same again. No more waiting at crossing stations while sharing a red and White filter less cigarette with the driver, nor would there be an exchange of tokens. No more YDM4 and no more stupid DMU!! No more MG................