Today it hit my wife and me that our two boys, aged 7 and 3, have never traveled by bus or train. They have ridden on a school bus for a field trip or picnic. But they never traveled on a bus or train that is part of our public transport system. Whenever we want to go some place we either drive if it is close by or we fly.
As a kid I traveled to all the four corners of India by train. Every three years or so my Dad, being a government employes, used to get something called LTC (leave travel concession) by which he could take his family by first class train to any part of India for free. So every three years we would pick one corner of India and go for a vacation in the summer holidays. From those childhood vacations I can tell you that the best way to experience India is by train because in India the journey is as important as the destination.
But in recent years almost all our family vacations have been to countries abroad. And since we have small kids most of the time is spent at theme parks. While that is a good thing, I can’t help but wonder whether I’m doing enough to show my kids their own country and experience it the way I did when I was as a kid. I know things have changed a lot from back then, but I just feel that their idea of India is the urban lifestyle that I feed them every day and their idea of a vacation is a tourist hot spot in another country.
Armed with this realization on Father’s Day today, I took my wife and kids to the closest railway station watched in amazement as they saw a train pull up, drop and pick up passengers and pull away. Going forward I hope to show my kids their country. And I’m going to try and do so in a way similar to how my parents made me experience my country.
Just that I’ll just need to choose my destination wisely and book my train tickets way in advance. I have no intention of traveling like this. At least not with family. 😉
Further reading: “India Travel Advisory“