Afghan fruit by rail

An article on the rail transport of Afghan fruit to markets in India.

Fresh Fruits from Afghanistan to India!

I fondly remember as a youngster – in late 1940’s and as late as early 50’s – the repeated shouts of burly, awesome Pathan vendors in our ‘mohalla’ in Lucknow: “Fresh luscious grapes from Chaman; red juicy pomegranates from Kandahar; “Buy them now, eat them now, lest you repent!”

But whatever the virtues of the vendors, their assertion about the quality of their products was never in doubt. So with this childhood experience when I read the following lines in P.S.A Berridge’s old classic, “Couplings to the Khyber: The Story of The North Western Railway” I became really nostalgic about the fruits which are certainly no more:

“Built primarily as a strategic line the Chaman Extension Railway served for many years hundreds of tons of luscious fruits — grapes, peaches, and nectarines in particular from Afghanistan found their way to the markets of far-away cities in India. Before 1947, in the summer months, there used to run every day a train with its ice-packaged refrigerator vans destined for places as far away as Calcutta and Madras.”

Let me now construct this interesting rail transportation story which has a human angle too.

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Source: Arunachala Grace, Sacred Power Site of South India, 2009-10-18

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