Nostalgia 3.

The last post on Nostalgia that I wrote was in September last year. I find it strange that there have not been other triggers that could have led me to write other posts since then.

Be that as it may, there is another trigger which brings back so many memories that I have been revisiting many incidents that I had experienced those days.

A Facebook post showed this image with the question “Do you remember?”

I had responded with “As a travelling salesman in the sixties of the last century, the holdall was an absolute necessity. I slept in trains, waiting rooms and once even in a police station with the permission of the inspector because I missed the last bus. The suitcase with the khaki cover shown below too was part of all regular travellers as the cover protected the expensive suitcase.”

The holdall shown above was a long canvass bag with a pouch at each end. One first placed a covered in cotton cover mattress like this in it.
This mattress was tucked into the pouches at both end and then, one end was filled with a pillow while the other was with a bed sheet and/or a blanket. It was then folded over from each end and then folded over once again in the middle, and fastened with buckles and straps on the top.

The holdall contained other pockets to keep other things like clothing or books or whatever and had a handle to carry it with ease.  The pouches on both ends inside were also used to store clothes and other materials below the pillow and the sheet/blanket.

The khaki cloth covered suitcase at the bottom was another familiar sight among regular travellers as, the suitcases were either made with pure or imitation leather and were very expensive. All luggage stores those days had either an in-house tailor or one close by who made the covers on the spot after one bought a suitcase. Believe me, these suitcases were covered because they were expensive and had to be protected to last long.

A tour normally would be of three weeks duration, sometimes taking a few days more on emergency calls.  We depended on the Indian Postal Service for Care-Of-Post Master mails and to receive and send money and mail.  We carried Postal Identity Cards without which we could not use those facilities.  We also had to strictly adhere to the pre-drawn itinerary so that mail could be collected.  One did not use the telephone those days unless in emergencies as calls were expensive.

Almost all the travellers of those days that I knew had the habit of reading and all major Railway Stations had book stalls that sold books and magazines besides daily newspapers.  That and where one could, seeing movies in the local theatres were the only ways to fight loneliness.

In retrospect, when I now compare today’s travellers to those of then, I can’t but wonder how we and I particularly survived those adventures sleeping where we could, using laundry facilities where we could and eating food in all kinds of outlets.

Have you ever used or come across such holdalls and covered suitcases?

10 thoughts on “Nostalgia 3.”

  1. So nice to see the “holdall” after so many years ! I never had occasion to travel with one but your blog reminded me of the many books and magazines that were purchased for numerous train journeys ! You would recall ” A H Wheeler & Co”

    Thanks for rekindling lovely memories 🙂

  2. amazing! I love it when you go down Nostalgia Lane.
    so many young travellers carry all their belongings in a back pack now. but none as well thought out and designed as yours was then!

  3. My suitcases just got battered, although I do still have 2 which didn’t go abroad with me, and they are still in relatively good nick. They now hold other memories which I sort through from time to time. I’ve been meaning to that … I had the suitcase, as did everyone else when I did camping tours in Europe – somehow they always fitted on top of the vans and buses we travelled in… A few people probably had a rucksack/backpack but the majority didn’t in the late 60s.

  4. Is this still a profession I wonder what with internet and online? I love your stories of life on the road and am educated as to how challenging and hard it was to survive.


  5. I never had a holdall but I had a carry-on suitcase that I would pack judiciously for a months travel in Europe. That was my vagabond days when I would make a reservation for the night I arrived and for the night I left. Other than that I went where I wanted for when I wanted. I changed in my later travel days to wanting to stay in one place and know the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker. I would still sometimes make a reservation for the first night and then find a furnished rental for the month. Aahh…those were the days – whole-bodied and COVID-free.

    1. While you travelled for pleasure I did to make a living. Serious difference there! In retrospect however, both of us have benefited from our travels using whatever we needed to pack our personal effects in.

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