We went by the Golden Temple Mail to Jallandhar. This is a very punctual train, and one of the oldest trains of India as far as the service goes. Earlier, it was known as the Frontier Mail. Interestingly, the search term "Frontier Mail photos" led me to this blog, where you can see that this train started in the '30's of the last century. It used to go from Ballard Pier to Peshawar. Air-conditioning was provided by adding ice to specially made boxes installed in the ceiling of the cars. The boxes would be accessed by the worker who went up the roof of the train when it halted at the station, and he would open the box and fill in the ice!
Our train began from Mumbai-Central station at 25 minutes past 9:00 p.m. on the 31st of May. It would take us all the way to Jallandhar, where we would get off; the train would continue on to Amritsar, where it would end. Our part of the journey would see the calendar changing dates twice, and we were scheduled to reach our station on the dawn of 2nd June.We carried a lot of food with us, including mutton and egg cakes, chapati, dry cooked potatoes, and specially made pattice and chicken rolls. These would last us till dinner time on the next day. We had to order just one non-vegetarian plate and one dal fry for the dinner.
Although we were booked in AC 3-Tier, we enjoyed the "6-seater" box to ourselves throughout the journey as the remaining two passengers slept with some of their other relatives in another compartment. This was an unexpected blessing. as we got more space and more privacy. Thinking of this as a harbinger of better things to come, we kept up our spirits. Unfortunately, by the first morning, Nishrin was down with her famous migraine headache, and this continued to worsen through the day, leading her to shun all food and drinks and remain sleeping throughout the journey. Gamely, however, the three of us, viz. my two daughters and I, carried on with the usual stuff that railway passengers indulge in, such as playing word or card games, reading books, eating snacks, etc.
When the day ended, we went to sleep by 11:00 p.m., setting our mobile phone alarms to go off by 3:00 a.m. later in the night. Eventually, although we all got up and readied ourselves by 4:00 a.m., the train got delayed and reached Jallandhar almost 75 minutes late, at 5:30 a.m. on the 2nd June, 2011.
The train journey had come to an end. The troubles, however, had not yet begun, as we would discover shortly.