A railway station is a place where trains arrive and leave. Hence it is a very important place in every city. One can find here a cross-section of people. People belonging to all castes, creeds and religions can be seen here. This place is full of hustle and bustle. It is accessible to both the rich and the poor. There is always a great rush at the platforms. Everybody seems to be in a hurry either to get down from a train or to board a train.
Last Sunday, I went to the Delhi Railway Station to see off my elder brother, who was going to Amritsar. We took a three-wheeler scooter and reached the station at 9.15 p.m. The Punjab Mail which goes to Amritsar was to leave at 9.55 p.m. Many taxis, scooters, Tongas and rickshaws were standing in rows inside the compound of the Railway Station. A few traffic policemen were standing here to assist the incoming and out going vehicles.
At the booking windows, there were long queues of people who wanted to purchase railway tickets. Some policemen were on duty to maintain order. They also kept a vigil on anti-social elements like pick-pockets and confidence tricksters. Some people were standing before the Enquiry Office to get information about the arrival and departure of various trains. I purchased a railway ticket for my elder brother and a platform ticket for myself. I asked the coolie, who was carrying our luggage to rush to Platform No. 10 from where we were to catch the Punjab Mail. When we reached the gate, a railway ticket checker, in a white uniform, checked and punched our tickets.
There was a big crowd of passengers waiting at the platform. While some passengers had very light luggage, others were carrying heavy luggage. All passengers seemed to be in a hurry. They were worried lest they should miss the train.
There were a number of stalls on the platform. Some stalls were selling light refreshments, while others sold the latest books, magazines, newspapers, etc. There was a stall selling fruits also. Hawkers were also moving up and down. They were selling tea, biscuits, pakoras, puris etc. A few railway employees were seen serving water to passengers.
I went to a bookstall and bought a few magazines for my brother so that he could read them during the night journey.
I saw that a number of passengers whose names had been placed in the Waiting List were trying to contact the available railway staff to find out if they could get reservations against cancellations. Their faces bore an anxious look.
The railway authorities were making announcements on the mike as to whether a particular train was running on time or was likely to be late. The number of the platform from where each train would leave was also being announced for the information and guidance of the passengers.
After every few minutes, trains were either steaming in or leaving the station. Streams of passengers were going in and out of the station. It looked as if it was a big fair. Most of the trains were fully packed. There was no room even for standing in the compartments.
I saw many emotional scenes at the platform. Some persons had come with garlands to receive their relatives and friends. Those who had come to see others off waved their hands to say goodbye to their dear and near ones. These scenes were very touching.
Suddenly, there was an announcement that the Punjab Mail bound for Amritsar was arriving at Platform No. 10. All the passengers on the platform stood up. Coolies picked up the luggage on their heads. Parents held children by their arms. When the train arrived, some young passengers boarded it when it was still in motion. Others boarded it after it stopped. Within a few minutes, the train was fully packed. My brother got a seat with great difficulty.
At 9.50 p.m. the guard blew the whistle and waved the green flag. The signal was already green now. The train started moving out slowly. I waved my hand and said goodbye to my brother. Soon the train picked up speed and was out of sight. The platform which had hummed with life a little while ago, now wore a deserted look. After seeing off my brother, I came out of the railway station, hired a scooter and reached my home at 10.15 p.m.