Travelling on the New train in town aka Standard Gauge Railway alias Madaraka express is a nostalgic experience.
I like the new train, it is definitely more spacious, modern and newer than the old. The new is always exciting and interesting. You get to see a new way of enjoying things especially when one needs to escape the humdrum of city transport that is such a sore toe.
I am a Kenyan from the west who has always turned right at the Uhuru highway round about. Most if not all of my holidays before I turned 13 were spent in the leafy suburbs of my grandparents farm. The mode of transport was the good old KR- nostalgic is an understatement, it was glorious.
The train journey was a serious affair for our family. From the meticulous planning to the daydreaming and finally the actual stepping in the station area and feeling awed by the majestic creature that was the train to Butere.
Our journey usually set off at 5.30pm, my parents travelled with us most of the safaris and that provided great lessons on manners and modesty as well as geography.
Mama provided food and accommodation on the train which was perpetually third class, the maroon cushioned seats provided enough comfort. By the way the accommodation was provided below and above the seats and we had long nights as we snaked our way from Nairobi to the Rift Valley, to the Nandi escarpment, approaching the warm lake basin, where the train changed its “head”. It is also here that the radio was changed to the radio Kisumu frequency.
We refreshed at Kisumu too. Some people had time to even take a shower. We needed to arrive in our leafy suburbs clean and fresh.
The journey towards Butere was always filled with wonder… I liked it because it was home, the landscape and the language people spoke became familiar and made you have the home feeling.
There is something strangely engrained in the old train and I know what it is. I was young, my eyes were feasting on new information, I had my sisters, I had mom and dad. The train linked my modernity with my heritage.
The old train has memories the new train can barely scratch their surface. And so we form new memories with my daughter and take her for her first train ride, just as my mom Beatrice and Dad John did for us.
Who knows, her trains may be doing supersonic speeds and she will write her blog on how mum and dad put her on the slow SGR and this time turn left at the Uhuru highway round about.
Who knows? I still love the old iron snake