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Some Memories..
Prakash Tendulkar


As the time passes, many of my friends who worked as M/men or Drivers have retired or reached heaven.

The first A-grade driver I met was Kaka Bhagwat a.k.a. "Hari Hari" from Pune. He was a legend. It was said that whenever he worked Deccan Queen, he would stop at Kamshet, take a dip in "Sangam" (junction of two rivers), come back to cab and his Assistant would start the train while Kaka changed the clothes. I do not know if this is true or not.

Kaka Bhagwat was a saintly person with human flavor. A devout "Warkari" to Pandharpur every year, he never experimented with tobacco, alcohol or skin currency. My classmate, Raja Godse, who retired as M/man from Pune was his favorite Assistant driver.

Kaka wore a black elliptical cap and waved everyone with words "Hari Hari". Hence the nickname "Hari Hari Bhagwat".

Due to his life style, he refrained from working many trains that would have earned him more miles. He could not stand atmosphere in Resting Rooms. Not many folks know though, Kaka donated half his income towards charity.

This pious person received his death in a way we can only dream of. His daughter-in-law delivered a baby boy. When the news reached him, he said, "Hari chya Paya Padu Ya" (Let me touch the feet of Thy Lord). He had a heart attack while him touching His Lord's feet.

His son works as A-grade special driver in CR. No comments on him.

I had another friend with a nickname Kaka in CR who retired just a couple of years back. He is Kaka Redkar. Like Kaka Bhagwat, he never explored tobacco, alcohol or skin currency. When I visited him one last time in his cab in 2002, I was the only person who ever smoked (or dared to smoke) when he was in cab.

Having known me for a long long time, he has always tolerated my habits. When it was chilly during an extended stop in a long tunnel, he shut of the blowers for resistors in WCG2 to make me feel comfortable. 

During our ride from LNL - PA, the driver of loco requested Kaka to take charge and went to rear cab for smoking.

Like Kaka Bhagwat, Kaka Redkar opted to become Ghat Driver rather than working on Mail/Express trains and to avoid sleeping in resting areas.

It seems Kaka (Uncle) is common nickname in Indian Railway. My another friend, Dattatray Vishnu Phadke, a.k.a. Kaka Phadke is retiring on January 31, 2005 after 42 year and 8 months of service. It is record noted by Guinness Book. Like two other Kaka I knew, he is totally vice free.

In fact, I joked many times, "Datta, if you wanted to be vice free, why did you join Railways? You could have become a Saint, instead."

Mid-Day published an article on Kaka Phadke some time back. 

Datta became a CLI at BCT in 2001 only to find that his pension would be reduced when he retires in 2005. So in year 2004, he became a M/man again. A very tough decision when you have to work under your juniors who are now Loco Inspectors.

I will close this episode with "Dada" (Elder brother). Sudhakar R. Tendulkar, A-grade driver lived at Naigaon when I lived at Vasai. Although namesake, we were not related. I knew him for years when he rode in cab on the way to work or on the way home.

While working on steam, Dada used to drop a couple of shovel full of coal for his "Istriwalla" (the guy who pressed his dresses). I do not know how it worked out after diesel and electrics came into the picture.

When I worked at Surat for a year and a half, it was natural for me to seek Dada's help. Gracious he was to introduce me as his brother to drivers at BCT and BL. I knew P. D'Mello, I. D'Mello, Soli Bharucha and Uday Singh Rana (once a driver, he fell through grace after an accident and became a chargeman at BL). However, being Sudhakar R's brother carried a significant weight to get rides from BL - BSR when train did not stop officially at BSR. 

In 1986, I met him at BCT and he gave me a ride from BCT - STC while driving (then) 25 Down Deluxe. I guess, that is the shortest ride anyone has taken by that (once prestigious) train.

Few days later, I rode with him from BVI to VR in Saurashtra Janata Express and took a few pictures.

Dada was not feeling well those days but doctors at Jag Jeevan Ram Hospital in Mumbai Central were unable to diagnose the cause. (Babu Jag Jeevan Ram was the first Railway minister from Bihar who "forgot" to pay income taxes for 14 years).

Six months later, Dada succumbed to cancer that had spread all over his stomach and was detected too late to cure.

May souls of Dada and Hari Hari rest in peace.

I'll be publishing pictures of some of my friends soon.