When I was about seven, my cousins came over for a short trip and we went on a day excursion to the Doll Museum and the Railway Museum. (The cherry on top, though, was the Hero No. 1 show we went for later that day. Govinda was wildly funny those days.)
I chose to write about the Railway Museum because I actually remember it, even though it was over thirteen years ago, and I have a pretty bad retention span when it comes to stuff that happened to me. At first there were only vague images, and feelings rolling about in my head, but modern technology (aka google) helped jog my memory. And I’m really glad of the chance to revisit it, because it was such a good day. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it- I haven’t yet.
The Railway Museum, in Chanakyapuri, is ‘the focus of Rail Heritage of India’. I remember it as being huge, and it is, spread over 11 acres. It’s also very green. Most of the engines and carriages on display are on tracks laid over landscaped gardens.
The museum’s home to the Fairy Queen, Guinness certified as the world's oldest operational steam locomotive. It has, honestly, a pretty awesome collection of locomotives. There’s just something so charming about all those gleaming old-style steam engines. We got to explore inside some of them too, I think, and I distinctly remember going inside at least one coach, with its plush seats and wood finish.
The main attraction for us, though, was, of course, the toy train. It runs on a miniature track through the museum. You cannot imagine the joy that we seven-and-eight-year-olds felt when on it. Like I said, the feelings still stay with me- fighting for the window seat, the wind blowing through my hair, the excitement of it all.
Later we went for ice cream to the cafeteria, which I remembered as being in the middle of a lake. Google Images confirmed its location on the side of a much smaller man-made pond. But it looked exactly the same: a circular structure, open on all sides, with the restaurant on the first floor. When I think about it now, it seems like a really nice design. It has an amazing view, of the lawns and the water, and the outdoor seating meant that us kids could ‘hang out’ separate from the grown-ups, leaning on the railing and talking of dolls and trains and ice creams and whatever else seven year olds talked about in 1997.
That day was enchanting. Frankly, when I decided to write on this topic, I wondered for a second if I had such fond memories of the Rail Museum because I had fond memories of the whole day- whether it was the place or the company. But then I realised that I remember nearly nothing of the Doll Museum, and so much of the Rail Museum. (And, well, ALL of Hero No. 1. But who can forget that?) The place is fascinating, and so utterly charming. I enjoyed it- it’s right up there with Appu Ghar and that video game arcade that opened in Saket for a (too) short period of time.