It is every summer that we plan on having a trip somewhere with all of us huddled together bound for the same adventure. Naturally, it came as quite a shock when I found myself standing on the platform in winter with my kids clamoring around me and the familiar look of serious anticipation on their father’s face. We were on the throes of having a train travel from New Delhi to Gaya by Mahabodhi express. Our luggage was still fatefully arranged about us and a quiet sense of calm was slowly filling up my mind as I listened to the kids having a fight over who gets the window seat.
The train left the station at two in the afternoon. Despite being all muffled up under warm clothes, I could still feel a chilly tinge in the air as the afternoon slowly waned and began to give way to the dark embraces of the evening. It was a smooth journey with a few halts at Aligarh Junction, Kanpur Central and Allahabad junction. By this time, the clock read half past ten and the darkness all around had finally brought the noisy kids to stern. Dinner time was always an invariably family time and it was a moment when we all huddled together over the plates and talked about the days ahead and the plans that were made. The kids were quieter than usual and their father seemed all the less tensed about everything.
We had AC two tier compartments and were provided bedding for the chilly night. We had decided to call it early as the train was expected to arrive at twenty minutes past six in the morning. We needed to be ready for our adventures as soon as we arrived. The prospect of what tomorrow would bring was a better sleeping pill than any lullaby I would have used on the kids. They were off on their adventures with Peter Pan without much ado and I settled in myself with Maugham’s sarcastic comedy to keep my company. The train arrived more or less on schedule, with a little delay on account of fog, but we emerged quite early the next morning and greeted the biting wind on a busy station that was reminiscent of those old movies.