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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

by Vidya Sury December 12, 2013 20 comments
vidya sury travel


The word travel equals magic for me. The excitement of packing and going off somewhere fills me with joy, no matter what the duration of the trip. Back in the day when I worked a corporate job, I always had a suitcase packed and ready to grab and go on emergency trips.

One of my fondest memories is coming back home late at night, telling my Mom I had to visit Ramagundam the next day (NTPC was a major client) – and catching the AP Express at 6.45 am, which meant leaving home at 5 am to reach the station well in time. This train passed Ramagundam around 9.50 am and I’d travel standing with an “unreserved” ticket. At 9.45 I’d stand near the door ready to jump off and cross the railway tracks to the other side. I’d return home the same evening by another train, covered in soot. I’d somehow also manage to catch up on my reading during these impromptu trips. I once traveled in the driver’s cabin – and what an experience it was!

During this time — the mid-90’s, I even managed to catch a train ride from Hyderabad to Vishakapatnam with none other than the great N T Rama Rao, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, sharing his dinner of cashew nut pakodas and biryani. Memorable! His booming voice still rings in my ears!

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Image source wekosh.com

My first train ride is very memorable – significant especially because it is the reason I am here today. I was around 2 years old and traveling with my Mom and we were returning to Mumbai from Delhi after being literally thrown out on the streets. Long story and nothing short of a miracle.

After that, any travel meant fun and looking forward to all the food that was packed, board games to be played, songs to be sung. Most trips involved two nights on the train and we so enjoyed it. Invariably the menu would be special curd rice with “vadu manga” (tiny mangoes marinated in brine) and an assortment of pickles, potato curry cut into small strips and dry fried, as accompaniment to puris, tamarind rice, idlis covered in idli chilli powder and the emergency packet of buns, just in case. Banana leaves from our garden were washed, wiped and rolled to serve as disposable plates. We carried two large pots of water and two large flasks of coffee. The kids didn’t get any of that, though! We’d be so eager to tuck in to our food. There were also snacks like mixture and other typical homemade stuff to keep our “grinders” busy.

The entire journey was an experience. Oh, and not to forget the “holdalls” neatly packed with enough bedsheets for everyone.

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Image source: http://www.irfca.org

Little bundles of clothes were packed in pillow covers to serve as pillows. We would look forward to sleeping in the floorspace between the berths! If there were babies traveling, they simply used the space for a makeshift cloth cradle. Talk about optimum use of space! We loved brushing our teeth in that metal wash basin (we did not have any at home). That crazy flush in the toilet was fascinating with its sudden rush of water (we had no flush at home). We would note down the names of every station we passed during our waking hours.

When we returned home after the trip, we’d write an essay about it. This was mandatory, but fun! We each of us had our own fantasies running through our heads as we passed fields, towns, mountains in the distance…and watched the sun travel with us…and eventually set to make way for twinkling lights as the train sped ahead towards our destination, towards the family and friends we were eager to see, and the temples we would visit.

My first plane ride was hilarious. I reached the airport a tad late and just managed to make it with my boarding pass, thanks to an ex who was a pilot and had connections. Those days there was no internet, and hence no printing them ahead of time.Then, just as I ran across the tarmac towards the aircraft (no posh bridges direct from airport to aircraft at the time), my suitcase, which I had opted to carry as hand baggage to save time waiting to clear it on arrival burst open and a few of my things spilled out. I remember getting down on my knees and trying to stuff it all back in while everyone watched patiently. Now, of course, we are veterans.

While I love train travel and flying, I simply adore biking trips and car rides for sheer convenience. Nothing like seeing a place on a two wheeler. Our “gang” was a bunch of avid bikers and never hesitated to take off at a moment’s notice. Wind in our hair, body braced and one with the metal steed, basking the warmth of the sun baking our heads inside the full-face helmet… stopping at wayside shacks to snack and savor cups of hot tea…

vidya sury yezdi travel

Jeep rides are fun, too! My most memorable ones are the bone-shaking twenty minute trip at Kazironga as we were headed towards the rhinoceros sanctuary, and the killer ride across uneven terrain in Karwar as the jeep hurtled towards the power station of the KPTCL. What a gorgeous place that was! Everything grew larger than life.

The thing I really adore about travel is seeing new places, meeting new people, exploring new customs and food habits – and of course, seeing the world. Then, I go crazy taking lots of pictures and come back and gloat over them, reminiscing, reliving the experiences. I have quite a long wish list of places to go and look forward to checking them off.

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Image source voyage-vixens.com

Another trip down memory lane.

Thank you for traveling with me!

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Shilpa Garg December 13, 2013 at 12:42 am

What wonderful travel memories!! And this pushed me back into time travel too. I have traveled once without ticket! Gosh, what an experience it was. The holdalls have nearly disappeared from our journeys now-a-days but we had to buy it 2 years ago for AG as it is mandatory for them to have one and now we travel with it twice a year! 😀
Lovely pic of you on that bike! 🙂
Shilpa Garg recently posted…Lessons of Life

Ruchira December 13, 2013 at 1:57 am

aah! such lovely memories, Vidya.

The train ride with NT RamaRao must be epic…wonder what all you talked about 🙂

Yup, thanks to the wonderful prompts, I am also reliving each moment.
Ruchira recently posted…Can any Journey be perfect?

Jairam Mohan December 13, 2013 at 4:55 am

This was quite some post filled with enough travel anecdotes to write a small book about 🙂 You have had quite the travelling life haven’t you Vidya.

Loved the post quite a bit 😀
Jairam Mohan recently posted…The Confession – Chapter 6 – People

Kathy December 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

I loved reading about all your delightful travels. Your descriptions were so vivid I felt I was right there with you experiencing it for myself which was simply magical! I feel so blessed to call you my friend. You are simply a treasure! ♥
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Seeta December 13, 2013 at 12:04 pm

You could write an entire book n your trips down memory lane.. 🙂
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Rekha December 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Ahh..the curd rice with kadu maanga (that’s what we call it in Malayalam), the potato fries, the disposable banana leaves as plates, you just made me travel back in time. I love train journeys. My post was on our annual vacation from Delhi to Kerala. And the essays, we were also forced to write down those by Amma who is a teacher. Loved your travel journal! 🙂 And yes, most of my posts for this FOW too were a journey down the memory lane. Such beautiful prompts these are. 🙂
Rekha recently posted…A Long Awaited Journey

Aditi December 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

What wonderful memories…I love train journeys too…they have although now become infrequent… Our train trip from chennai to Lucknow in summer holidays was packed with so much fun! And holdalls we did carry in winters…love your picture…so cute and lively you look!
Aditi recently posted…Part 7 – Acceptance and forgiveness

Richa Singh December 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Train ride with NT Rama Rao! Legendary stuff! And that picture of you on the bike- adorable and sexy 😀 holdals! They were the cutest things to accompany us. I remember they could stuff so many things! Good ol’ days man 😀

vishalbheeroo December 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Cute memory, Vidya-ji. Lucky you, travelled with Rama Rao..lucky you. What fond and hectic trips when u were in the corporate world. You have had quite a list and I would say memorably awesome:)
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Sid December 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

Wow. That was an amazing journey Vidya. Loved it. And yes, the unreserved travel is an experience in itself. Great post

privytrifles December 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

Loved that pic of yours Vidya and oh boy what a ride you gave me with your words!!
Loved it
privytrifles recently posted…Mou Athena!

Corinne Rodrigues December 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Pakodas with NTR! Now that’s the stuff memories are made of – would love to hear more about that. As usual, I love how you draw us in with all the nostalgia. Haven’t seen a hold-all in ages. I distinctly remember falling off a bunk in the train and landing on one though. You’ve set me off on my own travel memories. Going to dig deep and come up with something now! 🙂
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Pritam Nagrale December 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I am also a travelling freak & going to long tour makes me very excited. What I love most about the trip is journey through my car. Your memories are wonderful & I love reading the whole blogpost.
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A Walk into the Woods December 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Had a lot of fun reading about your trips around the world, Vidya.
Thanks for sharing the pleasant memories.
A Walk into the Woods recently posted…When chains broke free

A Walk into the Woods December 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Did my comment disappear??
It was fun reading about your journey.
🙂 I love traveling too.
A Walk into the Woods recently posted…When chains broke free

Suzy December 16, 2013 at 1:43 pm

You were daring Vidya – jumping off trains, travelling “unreserved”, biking around. Kaziranga is on my places to see list. Wanted to travel there ever since I was little – don’t know why though.
Suzy recently posted…My Personal Journey with Dreams

meenamenon December 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Travel with NTR needs a sp post in itself! Now I need to c a pic of u in the bikr attire!

Eric David Lough December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I love going on travels too. Especially long travels…
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Kala Ravi December 28, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Nostalgia, nostalgia! Yes the good ol’ train travel days! Nothing to beat that time! Loved reading your travel tales, quite memorable ones I must say!
Kala Ravi recently posted…Lessons from Crochet

travelixia April 26, 2021 at 7:51 pm

i have always experienced happiness in travelling your blog gives lot of information
travelixia recently posted…MANIKARAN SAHIB GURUDWARA – BHUNTAR


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