Tracking Memories

The Flying Ranee & Hoops of Joy!

The Engine Driver of the Darjeeling Toy Train
What I wanted to be when I grew up..

“Yaaaay! Gayaaaa! Dug-ugg! Dug-ugg!” Sounds, shouts, railway tracks and memories. That’s what my early schooling days in a suburb of Bombay (I can’t still get myself to say Mumbai), Jogeshwari were all about. Come recess time (tiffin break) and we’d rush out to the railway tracks close to our school and place these bottle caps of Fanta bottles, ‘billas’ we’d call them, on the tracks and wait for the big blue mass of metal and smoke and massive metal wheels rumbling past us, going over the billas. Oh, the thrill of watching that go flat, with a popping sound was unimaginable. Our hoops of joy and the memory of those moments still have the power to bring a rush that fills my being.

In 2009, after an extremely easy Sandakphu trek
In 2009, a ride I could not miss, after an extremely easy Sandakphu trek

My fascination for trains and train journeys goes back to Flying Ranee days – a daily train from Surat to Bombay (now # 12922 or 12921 from Bombay to Surat) – and my summer vacations to Navsari on the same train. But as I grew up and embraced what life had to offer, I grew to love another sport.

My Honest Confession
Today, many decades later, my love and fascination for trains remains undiminished. It’s still throbbing and alive in my heart.

Yes, I love trains. But I am addicted to running. It’s almost a part of my DNA. Initiated into running around 2006, I’m proud to state that I’ve run all the Bangalore Ultra Marathons , thanks to Runners for Life for introducing the first one in Bangalore, including other marathons held in other parts of the country. It’s been one exhilarating run for sure. My honest confession? I love running, but I run not for the rush alone. It’s been ingrained in me to run for a cause.

Why? Well, growing up in Bombay (yes it was not yet Mumbai), my home was always a haven for those who were disadvantaged. Be it blind children who needed help with letter writing, or others who were not very literate, our home and our hearts were always open to those in need. The memory of my mother doing what they could to help children from different strata of society has been ingrained into me from childhood.

The secret sauce of my endurance is out – give me a cause and I’ll run. Till date I’ve raised around Rs.8 lakhs through running alone for causes close to my heart, including the India Literacy Project.

Mera Terah RRRrun – will you help transform my dream into reality?

When I think of the monies I can raise and help economically challenged children, or help earnest, committed and dedicated people who want to create platforms and spaces for transformation it gives me the adrenaline and the commitment to complete those looong runs.

You know how important it is to be in the zone right? For me, my causes are my zone, my fuel, my drive, my run. And I hate the DNF tag, so I may not be the fastest runner, but I complete my runs.

This year this is my dream, which I plan to achieve in the company of Brijesh, Vinit and Bharath my fellow ‘yatris’.

13 cities. 13 days. 13 train journeys. 13 miles everyday. 13,000 USD.
Across the length and breadth of my country, India, Bharat, by the Great Indian Rail and my own two feet…

Why 13? Well, that is another story, which I will share in another post on another day….

– by Jagdish Damania

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