Memory Trigger 11. Jamalpur.

My facebook friend Sanjay posted this video on his page with the comment “Love these old world ladies, what charm and majesty.”

I could not agree more.

My earliest memory of steam engines goes back to my childhood when my uncle used to come to Chennai by train from a place called Vaniyambadi where he was employed. He used to regale us with stories and the first time that I went on a train ride was with him to that town on a holiday when I must have been about six years old. He used to be fascinated by the engines and I distinctly remember going with him to see the engine while it was being filled with water at a junction before proceeding again to our destination.

As a grown up salesman, I had travelled many times in trains drawn by steam engines and distinctly remember being disappointed with the electric and / or diesel engines later.

I don’t know whether it was synchronicity or what, but I got an opportunity to go to Jamalpur on two occasions when I was 22 years old to write my prelims and the final examinations for my BA degree. I had to write the examinations there as I was appering as a private candidate in a distant education system of the Bhagalpur University as I was studying while working. The center where I had to write the examintaions was in Monghyr now known as Munger which did not have a railhead then though it does now. Jamalpur was a junction and the workshop and residential area of the Eastern Railways was located on the other side of the railway tracks from the town of Jamalpur. I stayed in a choultry and commuted to Monghyr by horse drawn carriages known as tangas.

I had to cross a footbridge over the railway lines to cross over from the town to reach the Railways colony to go to a Cooperative Mess run by some South Indians for food twice a day.

Apart from seeing a lot of steam locomotives during those two occasions, I also ran into some trouble once during a communal riot. A group of us students were returning from having had dinner at the mess over the bridge when a gang of rioters surrounded us and asked us for proof of our religion. It was a close shave and none of us were harmed but for a few minutes the situation was quite tense and it could have turned ugly because of my beard!

I passed both sets of exminations and in due course got my degree from the University which paved the way for my going to Business School and subsequent rise in corporate life.

Much later, in the late eighties I went to Jamalpur, Monghyr and Bhagalpur on a nostalgia trip and saw that the places were not the same as I remembered.

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12 Responses to Memory Trigger 11. Jamalpur.

  1. Sundar says:

    Great to read this. I am fascinated by the story on communal riots and the beard. I am sure you t will make a great F2F conversation next time we meet!

  2. marms says:

    “The places were not the same as I remembered”.

    I wonder if many of us could diffuse some terror we lived through by visiting those places (and people) and seeing them powerless now, rather than what lives in our memory, fired by fear, pain, and destruction.

    Well done Rumana.

    • Frankly, other than Patna, the capital of Bihar State where the three towns I mentioned are located, I would not like to visit that part of our country ever again. Mind you, I have travelled extensively in that state too.

  3. tammy j says:

    such wonderful memories sean.
    but such terror for a short while there! thank goodness you and your friends were spared.
    wow. nothing changes does it? look at all the violence in the world still done now in the name of religion and intolerance.
    i don’t remember steam engines. i suppose they were out by the time of my memories of trains. but OH how i love all trains! the sound and smell of them. and my times of travelling in them. i’m so glad i have that!
    i still wave at the engineers. and the caboose! and it’s thrilling to be stopped and watch them pass and feel the power and rumbling on the tracks.
    and for me it’s the smell of diesel that brings back that train magic. always!
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

    • I still go all nostalgic when I hear the distant sound of the diesel/electric locomotives horns that we can hear early in the mornings here when they are denied entry into the station. I recently got stuck at a railway crossing to wait for two trains to cross each other and that too took me down memory lane!

  4. There are a lot of places I have no desire to revisit. Not because of bad memories but because of wonderful ones. The places have changed too much.

    I used to love lying in bed at night when I was a kid, hearing a distant train. It meant adventure to me. I also have fond memories of train trips (non-steam engines) I’ve taken. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂
    Cheerful Monk recently posted..A New Year’s Resolution

  5. Big John says:

    As a child I literally lived next to the railway tracks, and steam trains passed on an embankment about 30ft from my bedroom window, including the famous London to Paris ‘Golden Arrow’. If a train stopped at a nearby signal I could talk to the passengers. During WWII these included soldiers on troop trains. The question “Got any gum chum?” was very useful when it was a train full of American GI’s. I can smell the smoke from those trains to this day.

  6. joared says:

    Am reminded of a few steam engine rides we took here in U.S. years ago in some lovely scenic spots — including in our Rocky Mtns — trains mostly for tourist trips and a nostalgic return to the past.
    joared recently posted..NEW YEAR ‘ESTIVAL

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