Chapter 139: Every households have their own treasured baby egg 18
Trains in the 1980s were primarily green in colour. Before the train had even arrived, you could already hear a distant roar and see the black smoke.
As soon as the train’s horn sounded, the passengers in the vicinity became agitated. They started checking their watches or the train station’s large clock to see if this train was theirs.
Jiang Jianjun was still in good spirits even though it was already two o’clock in the morning. He awakened the two children and waited in the waiting area for half an hour until the train arrived.
Jiang Shengnan has never travelled this far before. For a long time, the train depicted in the textbook had fascinated her.
Unlike Jiang Liu, who had seen most of the world, Jiang Shengnan considers the old-fashioned green coloured train as a giant. The shell’s peeling paint appeared like an indescribable beauty to her.
The train stopped at their station, which was one of its stops. When the train came to a halt, a crowd of passengers who were about to disembark swarmed down. Those attempting to board the train hurried forward, fearing that they would miss the train.
“Follow Dad closely.”
Jiang Jianjun was carrying their luggage and was unable to pull the two children. Therefore, before boarding the train, he tied a rope to the children and the other end to his waistband to prevent the children from being separated.
Despite this assurance, Jiang Jianjun still expressed his concern a few times.
This train had been in service for several years. Even though someone cleans it every day, and it was overhaul several times, the sign of use and tear on the train’s interior and exterior were still apparent. As Jiang Shengnan puts her foot on the train carriage’s deck, she could hear a creaking sound. Looking around, the leather seat covers on both sides of the train seemed to show signs of tear and scratch. The windows also appeared less bright.
Winter has arrived. Only when the train arrived at the station would the doors and windows of the train functioning for the purposed of disembarking and embarking. Many passengers were already on board, and this train covered a journey of thousands of miles away.
In this small space, foot odour and varied smell of food were mixed with the flavour of the caged poultry crapping equivalent to a special kind of chemical gas attack. Jiang Shengnan, who was initially excited to be on the train, was forced to hold her nose and could only breathe through her mouth.
Jiang Jianjun was devoted to his son. When he travelled alone, he usually purchased a regular seat. However, since he was travelling with two children, he naturally preferred the more expensive soft sleeper ticket. After all, this soft sleeper train ticket came with a softer bunk and more convenient.
The soft sleeper ticket was not the same as the standard hard sleeper. This soft sleeper was put in the form of a tiny, self-contained box. There were six beds in one room with a door separating it from the outside. No one else was allowed to board the soft sleeper except the intended passengers.
Families who are willing to spend money on soft sleeper ticket were usually not poor. So the soft sleeper environment was also very well, with better protection and privacy. There is also almost no chance of being robbed while staying there.
As Jiang Shengnan stepped into their compartment, the odd odour began to dissipate significantly.
Jiang Shengnan and Jiang Liu were ten and eleven years old, respectively. They were not big enough to purchase full-priced children’s tickets. As a result, Jiang Jianjun was only able to buy two soft sleepers. He held up his daughter to enter the upper bunk while he and his son will sleep together on the lower bunk.
In addition to having its own bedroom, the soft sleeper did not separate into a three-tier bunk bed, which made the space for sleeping more convenient.
Jiang Shengnan was already drowsy at this stage. Despite her enthusiasm and surprise, she fell asleep quickly, accompanied by the sound of the train’s movement.
The yell coming from the conductor selling food early the following day woke her up. It turned out that she slept straight through until noon.
“Do you want to drink some water, Comrade?”
A middle-aged woman in a conductor’s uniform opened the door. She stepped in, holding a hot water bottle with the railway bureau’s logo written on it.
Jiang Shengnan watched as her father took two enamel-drinking cups from his suitcase and asked the conductor to pour two cups of water as if he was used to this action. Other people in the same room also took out their drinking glasses.
The conductor closed the door and left after pouring the water. Jiang Jianjun handed the water glass to his daughter and son.
On the train, the water was burned in a boiler. Each boiler was situated at the crossroads in between a couple of carriages. Since there were so many passengers on the train, there was a line for the passenger to get the water. Furthermore, the train’s water supply was also minimal. You might not even be able to get plenty of water even if you queue for it.
While handing out water, Jiang Jianjun explained to the two children who had never travelled far: “If you do not want to go to the boiler to get water, you should take a drink whenever you see the conductor pouring water.”
After several long journeys, Jiang Jianjun has come to the same conclusion. The compartment was as cold as an ice cellar in the winter, which necessitated hot water use. It was like a battle every time he goes to the boiler to collect water. Jiang Jianjun was initially embarrassed to let the conductor pour water for him, thinking that this action was similar to capitalism. However, after the trouble he had to face in his attempts to get some drinks, he had grown accustomed to seizing any chance whenever the conductor passed by with a kettle.
“Save a little of water and mix it with the cold water. Go brush your teeth, and then eat lunch.”
There should not be any hot water in the train’s washroom right now. Brushing your teeth with cold water was essential in winter. Jiang Jianjun looked at his son’s mouthful of millet teeth and wondered when he would be able to replace them. By then, he would be considered a little adult.
Time goes by too quickly! In a few years’ times, it will be time for his son to give birth to grandchildren.
Jiang Jianjun affectionately inspected his son’s tiny teeth before softly rubbing his round head.
Jiang Jianjun had already purchased a box lunch when Jiang Liu and his sister, Jiang Shengnan, returned to the carriage. He ordered a Mapo tofu, braised pork chops, stewed pork with sauerkraut, and three rice bowls.
Unlike previous generations, this era’s train lunch is special. The ingredients are plentiful, and the oil used was generous. The braised pork chop was incredibly thick, and the broth in the lunch box was abundant. It was ideal for a mixed rice lunch.
That set of Mapo tofu was also delicious, with a numbing, spicy, hot, and salty flavour. The tofu also had a strong aroma, making it a good match with the chopped yellow beef. Despite the hot breath, people are still reluctant to spit it out.
This is Jiang Shengnan’s first time eating Mapo tofu, as none of the family members knew how to prepare it. Their family had also never eaten out in years. In Jiang Shengnan’s heart, this mapo tofu simply opened her door to Sichuan cuisine. It was the first time that she realised that hot and spicy dishes could be so tasty. She used to believe that tofu could only be found in cold sauces or soups.
It takes them two days and two nights to travel from their hometown to Pearl City. To put it another way, the three of them had eaten multiple meals on the train.
The first day’s lunch did not disappoint Jiang Liu and Jiang Shengnan, and neither did the subsequent meals.
The steamed white flour bread they had for breakfast was mixed with milk, giving it a milky aroma. The dough was kneaded well, so it was soft and fluffy without lacking in its firmness, making it chewier and sweeter. Furthermore, the deep-fried Youtiao was matched with the hot pickled mustard made by the train’s chef himself. Even Jiang Liu, who had a fussy tongue after living in several worlds, could not find anything wrong with it.
Apart from Jiang Shengnan’s must-ordered Mapo tofu, which she adored, they also sampled the hot and sour chicken feet with chopped peppers; the sour and appetising tri-colour vegetable salad with dressing; the Dongpo meat; as well as the famous Shanghainese dishes- bamboo shoots braised in vegetable oil and fried smoked fish.
Except for the Dongpo meat, which was a little cold and solidified fat which affecting its taste, the rest of the meal did not disappoint them.
After comparing the few home-cooked dishes prepared by her grandmother and mother, Jiang Shengnan, who suddenly ate a different kind of delicious food, no longer wanted to get off the train.
“From now on, I’m going to become a train driver.”
Jiang Shengnan thought that this job was fantastic because she would be able to eat such a delicious work meal every day.
Jiang Liu could not help but laugh a little as he listened. When she reached working age, it was expected that the working meals on the train would no longer taste like this.
Currently, the meals on the train were contracted to individuals or units. He even heard that the train’s chefs were all master chefs from large restaurants and restaurants. Naturally, there is nothing to say about the quality. After all, the profits and losses of the train meals in this era belong to the public. The chef was also concerned about the abundance of ingredients. However, once the meal was privately contracted, the quantity will drastically become smaller. The dishes will also be less seasoned to cut costs and increase profits.
Jiang Jianjun smiled after eating the leftover of his children’s endless meals. The flash of envy in the little girl eyes could almost blind others.
“Do you think your father eats well every time he went out?”
Jiang Jianjun piled the lunch boxes into a mountain, intending to take them to the garbage can at the carriage intersection later.
“It is only because both of you are coming with me that I am willing to purchase the soft sleeper ticket. Dad usually did not even spend any money to eat delicious food. After all, I need to put money aside for you and your sisters and brothers to continue their education. I also need to save money so that your brother can buy a house and marry a wife. I also have to make enough money to provide a dowry for your sisters. If I were to spend money to go out to eat and drink, will there be any money left for our family?”
Jiang Jianjun took advantage of the situation to teach the two kids. After all, it was the truth. He was not a person who is obsessed with food or clothes. Every time he went out to make a purchase, he often bought a seat ticket. Only when he was too tired that he will purchase a hard sleeper ticket.
The steamed buns were the most cost-effective for his three meals. The noodles were also delicious. With only one topping, your stomach will be full. Because of this, Jiang Jianjun has never had the experience of ordering three or four dishes for a meal. He was afraid to spend money arbitrarily because of the uncertainty of his fellow travellers and the possibility of speculation. He was worried that someday he would be caught and would not save enough money and forced his wife, children and elderly to live in poverty.
So, every time he went out, he would keep his expenses to a bare minimum, then give a portion of the money he made to his wife and a part to the old lady.
He is your average macho man. It would make no difference if he faced difficulties by himself. However, his children and wife must profit from his good fortune. He aspires to be the kind of excellent man who can provide for his entire family.
“Grandma, mom, dad, older sisters, and younger brothers will all be able to eat delicious train meals when I drive the train in the future.”
Jiang Shengnan felt a little embarrassed after hearing Jiang Jianjun’s words. She forgot about his father’s hard work outside the house. Yet, she used to play tricks on him whenever he returned from work outside just because he preferred her younger brother.
Not to mention the seat ticket and the hard sleeper, even the most costly soft sleeper on the train still constrained their leg and body, which could make people ended up with backaches. Jiang Shengnan couldn’t help but feel sorry for her father as she pictured himself sitting on the train for two or three days.
“Good girl. Be ambitious.”
Jiang Jianjun smiled. When his daughter got married, she still needs to take care of her husband and children. How could he, as the father, become shameless and eat the meal provided by her daughter with her own money? He is still waiting for his son to provide for him in his later years.
Yet, he did not mean to discourage his daughter’s filial piety and instead cheerfully offered new ideas, such as: “It’s easier to fly a plane than to drive a train. The cost of a plane fare is higher. Hence, the food on the plane must be unquestionably better. Dad has never been on a plane before. If you learn to fly planes in the future, Dad can borrow your light and take a ride with you.”
Jiang Liu, who was in the crowd, was ashamed to say that later generations’ plane meals were even worse.
Because of his father Jiang Jianjun’s words, Jiang Shengnan formed a new ambition. She is now looking forward to trying the food on the plane.
“Dage, your child, ah, truly sensible and filial, ah.”
Passengers in the same room could not help but join in on the Jiang family’s father and daughter’s conversation.
“Your children are so sensible; they did not look anything like mine who always bring me trouble every single day. What you just said is excellent, ah. For the sake of the children, we as parents, who care even if we have to eat a little bitter, right?”
“Hahaha, they are really quite sensible. Both of these kids earned double-digit grades at the end of the year, so to grant their wishes, I decided to bring them to Pearl City for a round of fun.”
Jiang Jianjun sat with a straight back. What is the big deal with Laozi being illiterate? My son and daughters have excellent achievement, ah!
“Oh, this is incredible.”
All began to admire Jiang Jianjun and met his small wish to show off his children.
“How could it be? This boy was very naughty when he was younger, but he became more sensible as he gets older. Don’t worry; your children will eventually understand the difficulties that their parents faced.”
Jiang Jianjun answered contentedly with a few words.
The chat window has been opened. Except for Jiang Liu and Jiang Shengnan, all adults in this carriage were married and could be considered childbearing adults. Hence, the atmosphere started to become lively as they spoke about their children.[Please read at the original website or you can at least support me with some ko-fi]
They boarded the train in the middle of the night, and when they arrived in Pearl City, it was already ten o’clock in the evening.
Fortunately, Pearl City was now thriving. There were foreigners from all over the world who come to Pearl City searching for gold nuggets at any given time. As a result, even at night when the weather remains cold, many tricycles are waiting outside the train station to transport these guests from afar to various guest houses or small private hotels.
Although the temperature in Pearl City was warmer than their hometowns, the three of them still adorned their thickest.
Jiang Jianjun hard-heartedly called a taxi because he had a lot of luggage and two children with him.
Jiang Shengnan gazed out the window at the colourful neon lights and the rows upon rows of high-rise buildings.
This is the Pearl City!
Looking at this scenery and the small village, which was completely different from the big city, Jiang Liu believed that inside Jiang Shengnan’s heart, she should have bred a kind of hope called ambition.
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