In my mind, even today, there is no ferocious, powerful, robust beast like the steam engine of yesterday. Even now whenever I want to imagine something more terrible than a dragon, a monster belching smoke, a machine of pure energy, I picture the steam engine.
I still remember the walk to the railway line when I was a child. It took place when my dad came home a little early. There were no TVs those days, and our entertainment lay in books, but when dad got home early, he would have that look in his eye which meant the whole family was going for a stroll. A stroll meant a walk, and a brisk one it was in the sometimes biting cold to the railway track. Now this was no ordinary line. It lay wedged between two rising hills, and in the centre of both these small hills, ran the railway.
We walked, my brother and I, with stilled excitement, sometimes glancing at each other, grinning because we knew what we were going to experience, and of course on the way, my dad would stop at the vada woman’s hut, where my mother would ask if the vadas were hot, she always said they were, and loaded with those steaming morsels we continued our journey to the railway line.
It was a vantage spot we sat on; on one of the little hills, where there was a bend. Here we could hear the steam engine but not see it till it took the turn.