Read About Indian Chai Stories

Our Writers - in Pictures!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Trains and Toddlers

by Gumi Malhotra

Holidays in tea meant going home for a month every year to reconnect with family. Phone calls were few and restricted to ‘how are you and the children’ and ‘all well’. As leave was often granted close to the time of travel and resources being scarce, more often than not it was the three tier on the Rajdhani for us. Many times it was just the boys and I, Sukhi would join us later.

Traveling with toddlers was a blur of sticky fingers, colour pencils rolling on the compartment floor, blankets which slid off and landed...yes, on the floor and a constant medley of ‘Mama susu aya hai’!

The trip to the bathroom was fraught with nameless perils and was an exercise in balance. One infant on the hip, the other holding on to your hand while you kept the door open with one foot, all the time saying, ‘Don’t touch anything’!

Let me not even start on operation clean-up!!

Looking back, I remember mopping up spilt juice, face-down ice cream cups, going to the pantry for boiled water for Lactogen and cleaning the boys' faces with Wet Ones till they shone pink. Looking out of the window and pointing out the changing landscape and birds to them, reading, napping and being cosy in our designated space.

The last train trip for us was in 2003 when I woke up at six to find our luggage gone. Someone had made off with it at Patna Station at two in the morning. Before I had time to feel sorry for myself I heard a ‘Good morning Mama’. I had the boys! Lost luggage faded in significance.

I miss those long rocking noisy journeys when Mughal Serai, Barauni, Katihar and Kishanganj were names that made up the distance between one home and the other.

Is this your first visit here? Welcome to Indian Chai Stories! 
Do you have a chai story of your own to share? Send it to me here, please : My name is Gowri Mohanakrishnan and I'm a tea planter's wife. I started this blog because one of the things that I wouldn't want us to lose in a fast changing world is the tea story - a story always told with great seriousness, no matter how funny - always true (always), maybe a tall tale, long, or short, impossible, scary, funny or exciting but never dull. You will find yourself transported to another world! 

Happy reading! Cheers to the spirit of Indian Tea!

 Meet the writer: Gumi Malhotra

Gumi Malhotra
Hello chai people, here’s another attempt to pen down one of the million memories I carry with me. We came away twelve years ago with our hearts full ( not so much the pocket) of such nuggets. We live in Bangalore now and what started as a hobby in the gardens has become my calling. I paint pet portraits. The happiest days spent in tea were in the Jali kamra with my paints, the boys occupied with make believe cars and a steady stream of tea flowing from the kitchen. Cheers!


Roma Circar said...

Think I've known you since those one-on-the-hip days. Entertaining recital of woes that have metamorphosed into laughter on hindsight! Unlike you, I have no nostalgic memories of Indian Railways!

Anonymous said...

Lalitha Ramakrishnan: I look forward to reading more stories like this

Aloke Mookerjee said...

So well described although my train journeys were of a very different kind! Thank you.

Nandita Tiwari said...

Loved it Gumi!! I remember meeting Himmat and Iman as toddlers, in one of these train journey.
So beautifully written!!

Nivedita Ravjit Singh said...

So well written.loved reading them...look forward to more writings ..