Train journeys have been an important part of our growing up years (as for most of us), but shooting for a TV show called #StationMastersTiffin helped me relive those experiences from a different perspective.
One such experience was Sandila, a miniscule station en route to Lucknow. I recall, as a kid, we used to take the Punjab mail back home, the train would make a quick early morning stop at Sandila. This was a station where we wouldn’t even alight to fill water, Lucknow being very close you didn’t need to, plus you’d be scared to miss the train!
So the only thing to do in your half-awake condition was put your hand out of the window & get those window-sized Kulhads covered with bright coloured kite paper.
It was almost a cardinal sin not to bring along Sandila ke laddoo when you were visiting Lucknow. There would be swarms of these Laddoo-walas at the station who would spring into action at the arrival of a train. The laddoos are, till date, packed & sold in mini Kulhads that are interestingly shaped & sized to fit through the train window bars, perfect for the vendors to quickly sell thru the windows & for passengers to buy without getting down, especially as the train wouldn’t stop for long.
What’s also fascinating is that the train station actually has a “लड्डू कक्ष” which acts as the warehouse for all these laddoos!
As a kid I always wanted to get off at this station & figure out the story behind those laddoos. So this time during the shoot, we drove back to Sandila from Lucknow & it was a kid in a toy store moment for me as we got a 4th Gen Laddoo maker to make those laddoos.
There are many such transit places in our train journeys that we just pass by & the anticipation of the destination & our itinerary takes over. Sandila was always that town, where rarely anyone gets off. A town where conversations revolve around mainly 1 thing, you guessed it, Laddoos! And quietly, sleepily it has just lived on, among all these big Riyaasats & Talukas.
Sandila may probably not ever be as big as Lucknow, but its charm will always live on, through its laddoos.
What’s your transit story?