i had traveled a lot in many such. ,till around ten years of age, by then diesel engines replaced them
later came electric trains ..
Even the horn sounded more like a truck.
The huge wheels swung slowly but surely after the hoot and the train tumbled from the platform with grace and dignity giving time for its passengers some of whom would stray to different parts of the station to have a cup of chai , eat a samosa , or pick a plantain.
Like a doting mother waiting for its child to catch up the steam engine train would move slowly unlike the electric or diesel alternatives who would accelerate with a vengeance.
Far into the night insomniac children like me with their faces pressed on the window bars would be gifted a lovely sight of a far off black engine on a curve puffing powerfully with red coal embers spraying into the cold fields on both sides.
Passing stations would disappear like in a mirage with solitary men standing with lighted beacons and extended keys and green lanterns to prod it in its onward journey to infinity.
The exertions of the engines would find a much needed rest in big stations called junctions where a thirsty engine would have a water hose pouring water into it cooling its insides.
At these times one could walk up to the engines feeling its warmth , watch its mighty pistons. , the reddish glow of its fire looking like hell itself , though none had lived to see the hell we just assumed this would be so .
Sweaty , dirty , gritty. ,with coal dust , grimy , these chimney stakes would still give smiles of love that no mechanical drivers would.
Day and night we would travel with no care
There was no sense of urgency to reach our destination in fact as children most wanted it to continue forever .
I too did same.
Reaching our station we would sadly walk to the front of the train , whispering our farewell to the machine that lived , not in the least minding the soot , the grit , the coal bits in our steel hard hair.
But diesel engines or electric engines could never do that magic
Maybe by then we grew up
Oh to be a child again...