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!
20170423_111702
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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51 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. Akansha Mehrotra on said:

    How you make me laugh. I missed you a lot. You have such a wonderful humor. I really don’t know how you will be in person. Absolutely regret not saying hello when I saw you in dehradun. Please keep writing

  31. Pratima Gupta. @pratimanoida

    Part 1

    1. I have had my share of a Train Journey in an Army Special Train way back in late Seventies.
    2. I am a Cavalier’s wife (Armoured Corps; the Tank Killers).Are you familiar with these Blue Eyed Boys of the Indian Army like the Top Guns of US Air Force. These are the Guys who wear Lady Killer Black Dungarees (Overalls) with all the way down Zips, tilted Black Berets, sport Flashy Scarves, High Boots and may take a Hair Cut once in four months time. They Drink Hard, Work even Harder; are Over- Dedicated to their profession and will never miss out a Pretty One. It was so in the 70s definitely.
    3. These are the Guys who are most in demand in the Matrimony Market too. Would not be out of place to mention that every Infantry / Arty General wants a Son-in-law from the Cavalry since much that he wished, he could not get into the Cavalry. Also, the son must go to the Cavalry, own Regimental Loyalty be damned.
    4. My Husband, a Major then was the Train’s Boss. Stickler for rules, more so with the Wifey, he would give no leeway for my younger sister either who, on a holiday with us was travelling along. Located at Pathankot ; to move to Jodhpur. Change of trains at Bhatinda i.e. from Broad Gauge to Meter Gauge since Jodhpur was Meter Gauge. Train Cargo – Tanks, Vehicles, Men, Families etc,etc. Special Cargo: My younger Sister.
    5. The Railways give a probable date for availability of Train. It may come, may not come for weeks. Same thing happened with us. The wait was torturous .Very Good Commandant WE had. (Yes ‘ We’, after all we were the Regiment too). Husband’s Course-mate invites us to Udhampur for three days since the wait for the Special Train could be longer.
    • Commandant says “Just Go”.
    • Husband says “What about Packing of the Household?”
    • “ Hubby, ho jayega wapas aakay”.
    • We are off to Udhampur from Pathankot.
    6. Coming back after 3 days, we see some tanks hurtling towards the Railway Station. I recognize the Tactical Number and the B Sqn Sign and Colour.
    • I blurt “Oh these are our Squadron tanks”.
    • The OC Train cum OC B Squadron : “ You people na, No one dare move even a single tank without MY PERMISSION. Must be going to the Workshop”.
    • No Cell phones those days.
    7. Reach Home and find that there are 2 x 3Ton Vehicles and our House Hold effects are being loaded in the vehicles.
    • No packing. Just Dump. “MY PERMISSION Champion Husband dumb-struck”???
    • The Senior JCO ( highly respected who could no wrong) was supervising the loading
    • “ Sahab, yeh kya ho raha hai”.
    • SJCO: “Sir Loading. Train bhi load ho rahi hai. Kal subah train ka departure hai. Sab control mein hai”.
    • Me: “Sahab Meri Crystal, matlab Cut Glass”.
    • “ Madam jee, Offrs Mess ke logon ne packing kar di”.
    8. I take my husband aside and say that how could these men have decided to pack mine and my Sister’s cupboards. Pure Sacrilege”.
    • Husband says “ Relax. Something must have been done to preserve your Privacy. I am sure”.
    • “ Hullo” comes a voice from the Neighbour’s wife. She informs that based on a request from the SJCO, she packed mine and my Sister’s clothes” .
    • Happiness all round.
    9. Husband moves to the Railway Station; me and my sister move to the Offrs Mess Guest Room.
    • Parting Orders “ You will get a max of one hour notice to come to the Railway Station. If Late, we depart. Find your own way there-after.
    • At the Mess, the fatherly George Mess Waiter awaits us.
    • “ George, Jaise hi Sahab ka phone aaye to ham ko utha dena, nahin to Train Chuk C huk ho jayegi. OC B Sqn ka to tum ko pata hi hai.
    • George “ Madam, araam se so jao. Main Telephone ke saath hi chipka rahoonga.”
    • We wake up with a start at 6.30 a.m. George is ready standing with hot Cuppas.
    • Not a word from this Soul.
    • I ask “George, koi message”
    • George Chup.
    • ” Madam Chai pijiye. Breakfast aa ra hai”
    • Something is WRONG.
    • I repeat “ George , koi message”
    • “ Yes Ma’am, aaya tha Duty Clerk ka. Usne kaha train 7 baje. chalegi”.
    11. Hell breaks loose. We run and dive in the Jeep and Driver is asked to break all rules. Just Speed, Speed and more speed. We could still make it.
    • My Sister ” No way OC B Sqn is going to leave us behind. I am his favorite. You- Yes, Me – No.“ .
    • The Chakki Bank Railway Station is in sight. The Engine is giving Loud whistles.
    • Just 200 yds away we are, the train starts.
    • We jump out and start waiving to Stop.
    • The Stupid Train Guard waves back ferociously at us thinking we are bidding him Good Bye.
    • Reddy, a Jawan manning the Internal Telephone the Guard’s Compartment sees us.
    • Asks OC B Sqn ( My husband) if they can halt.
    • OC Train cum OC B Sqn : ‘ No, he says, Just carry on” .
    12. Later we learned, a quick tete- a’-tete between the Train Guard and Reddy took place.
    • Reddy takes a decision : OC B Sqn’s Orders be damned. The train will be stopped for Mem Saab log. She is after all his daughter’s teacher in the Army School.
    • The train is purposely stopped right in the middle of the Railway Crossing on a major bye-pass road thereby delaying waiting Vehicular Traffic.
    • This was a smart move. It was the only place the where the Mem Saab Log could have boarded the train.
    13. Our Driver Muthuswamy pelts down the Jammu – Pathankot Highway like no other, snakes through the waiting Vehicles, screeches a halt at the Railway Crossing, two ladies jump out and Jump into the Train. Pathankot traffic at the Railway Crossing is Dumb Struck. Who cares, we are Home.
    • OC B Sqn is furious. “ Reddy ko bulao.Train kisne roki.
    • We are still in the middle of the Railway Crossing. Reddy comes Huffing and Puffing and Trembling.
    • “ Reddy,toone train rukwayi”.
    • Reddy Chup. .
    • “ Reddy,toone train rukwayi”.
    • “ Yes Sir”
    • “ Guard ko kitna Rum promise kiya”
    • “ Sir, 1 Bottle”
    • “ Kiss ke Account se jaegi”
    • “Sir Aap ke”.
    • OC B Sqn dil hi dil khush huya.
    • Logic – One Jawan took the decision on his own, negotiated the Incentive, Delivered, Spoke the Truth.
    • Lastly, but not the least, Egoistic OC B Sqn did not want himself to order stopping of the Train but in the Heart of Hearts wanted some-one else to do it for him.
    • Reddy Delivered.

    Part 2 will follow :
    • The following train journey was of 5 days. Bhatinda, the train change station from Broad Gauge to Meter Gauge was showing Zeenat Amman’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
    • All B Sqn personnel had to be shown this Movie. Train Timings be damned.
    • One Jeep loaded at the end of the Train. Long Halt; Use make shift Wooden slope, slide it down. Unload, go for a spin, have a Picnic Lunch. Push back the Jeep.
    • Train Roko – Chaawal pakane hain.
    • Etc,Etc

    • Oh my my my! How did I miss this comment! Checked my blog after a long time and saw this comment pending (sorry for the delay, I have no excuse for being so callous)
      What an adventurous journey you had…. totally visualised everything like a fast-paced movie!

  32. Please write soon.. eagerly waiting..

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