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July 1, 2004. Egmore railway station, Chennai. 9 30 am.

Hundreds of people are crowded around a train on platform number 7. No, they are not rushing to get in before the green flag is waved. There is no hurry, there is no pushing and shoving. In fact, the mood is solemn.

All those who have assembled have only one aim. Stand in front of the train and take a photograph.

"This is for our album, for our children and grandchildren to see, for us to glance through in old age. This is not for the present but for the future. In a few hours from now, this will become history," says one person.

The train was decorated for its last journey, with festoons and banners bidding it farewell and thanking it for the service it has given in the last 73 years.

"Itís a bride and itís going away from its parents' home," someone said. To many others, it was the last journey of a 73-year-old grand dame.

Reportage: Shobha Warrier | Photo: Sreeram Selvaraj

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