A Curious Army Wife

I joined this crazy tribe when I married into the Indian Army

Army Train Journey Part 1: ‘Expected Time Of Departure’ is moh maya!

Heard of the special Army train?
No, no, not the NDA special.
I am talking about the one in which female presence is allowed! 😛
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I first heard about this special Army train from many army wives, who had accompanied their husband’s battalion (or Unit) in such trains while shifting from one positing location to another, and decided it was high time for me, the ‘Curious Army Wife’, to experience the journey.
Hashtag Travel Goals
Hashtag Life mein ek baar. 
Hashtag Rahul Gandhi Pappu Hai. 
So, when it was time for Major Sa’ab’s unit to move from a field location to a peace station, I came to know the famous special Army train will be used for this movement.
Major Sa’ab told me officers are allowed to bring their families on this special Army train. I think it’s only legit that I have a minor listicle-attack to explain some things about this train before I tell you my story.
Salient features of special train (yaad kar lo bhiya)
1. Moving an entire battalion from one location to another is a massive task and an ENTIRE train is needed to shift it. Some Units need 2-3 trains!
2. On routes where there are no railway tracks (like the remote mountainous regions), army trucks do the work.
3. Men, machines, files, furniture, all the troops’ luggage and even the flower pots (bole toh gamle) are transported via this train.
4. The train is green in colour, not the usual brown/blue/duronto colour. Coaches have Indian Army written on it. Jhanki hai boss!
5. The train travels at a leisurely pace. It takes its own sweet time in reaching its destination. So a journey that takes, say 12 hours by a normal train, will take at least 36 hours in the special Army train.
6. No civilians are allowed to board it. The train is so exclusive that not even other faujis (as in those who do not belong to the battalion that is moving) are allowed to step in.
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Getting back to my story. 
“Chalegi kya Special Train mein?” Major Sa’ab asked me.
“Jaisa aap kahein,” I replied.
“Aa hi ja. Bahut kam logon ko mauka milta hai. Baad mein pata hai aa paye ya nahin,” he said.
“Aapki iccha ko na bolne wali mein kaun hoti hoon. Aa jaungi,” replied the obedient me.
Hashtag True Story. 
Major Sa’ab’s Unit was in a very volatile location in the valley. It was scheduled to move to the same city where I was working (very very convenient for me).
Two months before the expected journey date, he advised that I should ask for leave of absence from my office. I said,”Give me the dates first.”
I should have changed the name of this blog to The NAIVE Army Wife right there!
Major Sa’ab patiently explained that these dates are not fixed two months in advance and gave me a tentative moving date.
Let’s, for the sake of easy calculations, assume the date was April 1 (quite symbolic).
I was to take connecting flights to reach the station where from where the Unit would move in train.
This was the date I had with me when I approached my boss seeking leave. Once I got the green signal, Major Sa’ab said they have received communication from Delhi that their unit is to move on April 5.
Chalo koi na, I thought, since my office was pretty flexible when it came to leaves.
With a fortnight to go, Major Sa’ab told me the revised date is April 12-16. “Book your flight tickets,” he said!
“HOW?” I asked in my politest voice. “I need ONE date to book it.”
Days passed as I anxiously waited for that. Everyday, I heard a new departure date. When the date was finalised on April 18, I decided to book my flight ticket.
Last minute flight fares are sometimes insane. Thankfully, the only portal that could give me some discount was UdChalo.com.
If you haven’t heard of UdChalo.com, then you are probably spending a lot on flight tickets. This start-up (completly run by fauji kids and Ex-servicemen) provides discounted airfare to Armed Forces personnel and their family members.
Hashtag Plugged. 
Hashtag Travel Hacks For Faujis
Now here’s Major Sa’ab’s official statement about the special train departure.”The train will come to the station on April 18. It will take roughly 4-5 hours for us to load it. Once that is done, we will leave by April 18 night, or maximum by 19th afternoon. Normal train takes 2 days in reaching our destination, we will take not more than 4 days.”
I decided to reach the station of departure on April 19th morning — I had full faith that the train won’t leave before that.
I reached the airport and saw Major Sa’ab there after almost 5 months! Oh! How I loved my man!
In the jeep, he tells me, ” Accha listen, you were right and made the correct decision.”
Hashtag What’s The Fuck Up NOW? 
“That train hasn’t come here yet.”
Ein?
“There’s been a slight delay. But it will come tomorrow,” he gave me aashwasan like Modi.
“This is so unfair. I’ll waste one day of my leave for nothing” I did kadi ninda like Rajnath.
He was silent. Like Manmohan.
The Unit had to travel to this railway station — located at the nearest city — by loading all their stuff in those army trucks. It took the trucks an entire day to cover this distance, and three journey’s to-fro.
Our Commanding Officer’s (CO) wife and the new bride of another officer were there in the transit camp to keep me company.
For the next five… no no, I need some more drama here… FOR THE NEXT FIVE FREAKING DAYS, the train didn’t come.
Some stupid cargo train carrying coal had derailed somewhere, blocking the route from where our empty special Army train was to come.
The ladies shopped, cribbed, slept throughout the day, cribbed some more and then topped it off with some more cribbing.
We went to a mall in the evening, saw that toy train in which kids ride, and decided that we are going to sit in this train for a joy ride. Three grown-up women trying to fit themselves in that small coach was a testimony of how badly we wanted to sit in a TRAIN… ANY TRAIN.
“Train ki koi khabar,” we would ask everytime we saw each other in those five days and then burst out laughing.
Hashtag How Sad Are We. 
Hashtag Panjon Panjon Panjon Panjon
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On April 24th, Major Sa’ab was getting ready in the guest room to go to the railway station. Today, like the previous five days, the train was “definitely” going to come.
I accompanied Major Sa’ab to the station.
I wasn’t prepared for this.
The entire length of the platform at the other end of the station was covered with Unit property. From this side, it looked like a miniature model of the New York skyline. It was covered in green tent cloth to protect from rain and dust.
Breaking the monotony of black boxes and trunks were some flowerpots (as promised), furniture covered in gunny bag, personal belongings of the Jawans, classified stuff and a net box full of pigeons.
YES… PIGEONS!
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These were pet birds who kept the jawans company in the hills and were looked after very well by the fauj. When the time came for the Unit to leave that location and move to a big city, the CO decided to take these birds along! Isn’t that just… I don’t know.. I have never heard of people moving with lock stock barrel and pigeons!
And all this, I didn’t think would fit in a train.
And then the unthinkable happened!
I heard a nice long whistle and the rhythmic sound of the train pulling up at the station from one end!
200w_d
Show some love to inspire me enough to write Part 2 of this blog(coming soon) to read about how I realised there were 3 four-legged friends with us on the train and why I couldn’t complete this journey (no, wasn’t thrown off it) 
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47 thoughts on “Army Train Journey Part 1: ‘Expected Time Of Departure’ is moh maya!

  1. Brilliant. Very very happy that someone atlast has decidd to our out the unknown narritives of The Fauj n doing a good job of it

  2. Sunil Issar on said:

    I’m ready for part 2. Hurry up 🙂

  3. Amitabh Banerji on said:

    nice nice… waiting for the rest!

  4. Monica on said:

    Hahaha. Very well written. 😀
    Please write part 2.
    P.s. I love your blog.

  5. Rachana on said:

    Love love love! Absolutely delightful! Cant wait for the next part! Always dreamt of boarding one of these trains as a kid! Hopefully Ill get to ride one as an adult now!

  6. Hi Anamika.. welcome back after months ,was really missed your post.. happy to see your post :):) the post very well written…. it refreshed my childhood days when my father’s unit was moving to south from north and it took a week to reach south by train.. Me all set and eagerly waiting for Train Journey part 2 🙂

  7. colonel dhirendra singh hada on said:

    If u didnot complete it u really missed something.well part 2 should solve the mystery.waiting wsiting

  8. Abhishek Ahuja on said:

    Curiously eager. Yes.. That’s the feeling – waiting for part 2 Maa’m.. You just refreshed a lot of memories…

  9. Alamelu on said:

    Finally a post! And somehow you always manage to write about something that hits so close to home. Looking forward to a first hand experience. Please continue 🙂

  10. Arey you should’ve told me na you were stuck there. I was so totally free those days !

  11. Sayli Amar Hatle on said:

    I have enjoyed every blog on A CURIOUS ARMY WIFE. It is very interesting, affectionate, purely elegant and romantic. I am hoping and dreaming to get married with an Army Man. Thank you very very much for writing. And very very eagerly waiting for the PART 2.

  12. Sanjana Rajput on said:

    It took u really long bt happy to read your blog. I find it really amusing as I have always seen these trains on move and my only question was why are they so slow, cnt they make all other trains wait n reach their destination early? Maybe wifes n kids crib bt fauzis really enjoyed this journey…..

    • Hi! I was told since the unit movement is not really very high on Railway’s priority (unless we are in the middle of a war), the passenger trains’ schedule is of more importance. So the Army train stops to make way for all the other trains.

  13. nishan singh on said:

    Nishan singh faight sme

  14. madhu saxena on said:

    Hilarious but real
    Burst into a chain of laughters

  15. Vipin on said:

    Very well written Ma’am
    Please do publish ‘Part-2’.

  16. Very engrossing ……..Waiting for
    Part 2

  17. Jagmeet on said:

    I am still laughing.😂

  18. Ravi Sharma on said:

    It was indeed a very nicely written article, full of wit and humor! Proud of ladies like you ma’am, who endure so much but still are full of life and happiness! Equally proud of your Men too, waiting for Part#2

  19. Col AK Chopra on said:

    Nostalgic….

  20. Dr Priyanka on said:

    Haha I shall refer many..without a doubt 🙂 It’s the first time I have ever read someone’s blog and I am already in love with it.. what a start!!

  21. Dr Priyanka on said:

    I came across your blog recently and I must say how beautifully you have described some of the major milestones in a fauji household, from the first packing to first ladies club meeting, the courses and the beastly trunks . I am a fauji kid, my father is a retired Air Force officer. Though there are some differences between Army and Air Force , the spirit of out fraternity is the same, so I could relate to many things in your blog which I grew up watching. Since I was also thinking of joining as well as getting married to an Army Officer your posts gave a perfect insight into a typical Army way of life … keep writing … you are amazing..I actually binge read all of your posts ..very engrossing.. looking fwd to the part 2 with bated breath.

    • Thank you Priyanka. It’s only after I entered this fauji world that I realised how colourful and full of stories this life is… it might seem mundane for us but it is so different! Good luck for your future. Refer a friend to my blog and you will get free chocolates! 😀 😀

  22. Wow!!! That was so hilarious. I loved the political flavor of the sarcasm. Too good ma’am. Will be eagerly waiting for the second part 🙂

  23. Lakhwinder Singh on said:

    Well written mam. Absolutely delightfull.crazy about army .Rahul pappu ragnath kaddi ninda best mam.curiously waiting for part 2.well done👍👍👍👌👌

  24. Meetali on said:

    I just love your blog. It’s so relatable and you almost wrote after a year. I used to keep coming back to this blog to read a post but there weren’t any for a long time and today when I saw one I was really happy. This one is hilarious and I cracked up on the line that said “we just wanted to sit on any train”
    Waiting for part 2 and many more!!!

    • I’ve been very lazy this last year. Wrote this blog also after my husband wrote me mad with “write write write!” ki ratt. But feels good to know someone out there is keeping track of me. Promise I’ll write more now. 🙂 🙂

  25. This is amazing, I love your wit, humor and observation. Write a book! But first, write part 2… such a tease!

  26. The one time I travelled by special train it took us 7 days to reach Ambala from Varanasi. As a kid, it was one of the best experiences!

  27. Beautifully written…hope ur train did not halt at next station which was just 12 kms away for another day or two..happy journey 😊..chuk..chuk…chuk..🚃🚃🚃

  28. Can’t wait for part 2!

  29. love every bit of it !! Part 2, lawkar please 🙂

  30. Please write soon.. eagerly waiting..

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