Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Boarding the Train - Part 2

We were almost to the end of Banaswadi when we saw a traffic pile-up. My heart just skipped a beat. “Oh, no! Not today” I said to myself. We waited for two minutes and I started to get restless. I asked the driver to take a u-turn and take an alternate route which he did. We managed to cross the bottle-neck only to land up in an even bigger pile-up of vehicles. I uttered some profanity to myself. I guess the heavens heard it. They responded by showers, rubbing salt on my already aggravated wounds. It was 6pm already. There was no chance that I would reach by 7pm today.

All the decisions I had made earlier that day came back to haunt me now. I could have taken a sick leave owing to my injury. I could have taken a vehicle and drove home early. I could have atleast taken a Volvo at 4:30pm. But no, I wanted to take the cab and risk myself. But I had half expected the “late-comer” to come. I had half- expected my cab mates to stop for food. I had half-expected the rains. I surely never expected all three to happen on the same day, especially today. I had estimated in the morning that in the worst case, I would reach home by 7:30pm. There was a chance that I would not make even by the worst case time…

We were now slowly crawling on the streets of Fraser town and Cantonment areas. The poor driver was trying his best to move faster. I noticed that the wipers of the cab were not working because of the crash last day! Not the first of all troubles – I told myself. Maybe he had planned to service the vehicle over the weekend. But even he had not expected that it would rain today itself and play spoilsport.

I started to text Ultra with more fervor now, flooding him with all sorts of questions. Thankfully he was handling it well. He had packed all stuff into the suitcase, got food packed for us and even got the banana. But he could not find a bag to put some stuff in as the suit-case was overflowing. Wait a minute, I thought to myself. I had a bag with me which fit all the things he mentioned. But unfortunately, that bag was still stuck in traffic with me and I myself did not know when I would reach. I even thought that maybe I would go to Ypr directly in my office attire and he would lock the house, get all stuff and join me there. But that would be a huge responsibility on him. He just said, “hogolo! You come home, we will go together. You tell if it is absolutely necessary”. Honestly I still did not know if it was.

The cab mates, especially the late-comer now realized that I was acting a bit restless and tried to talk to me. I tried to tell all of them indirectly that I was really angry with them for not being supportive when I needed it the most. Their reaction was really indifferent. Either they had understood everything I meant and didn’t have anything comforting to say, or they were too dumb not to understand what I meant. Either ways, there was no point in pressing it further so I indulged in some playful banter with one of them.

It was 7pm when I reached Navrang, a good 20 minutes from my place. Given the trafiic today, it would be more than 20 minutes. I had to make a decision whether to go home or go to Ypr. I had to make sure that house was locked. I had my bag which had some stuff to be filled. I could not entrust such a huge responsibility on ultra yet. So I decided to go home. I asked the driver to take as many “F(s)hortcuts and chota F(s)hortcuts” as possible to reach home soon. Finally after a further half an hour of maneuvering the traffic, I finally reached home by 7:30pm. Still a good 100 minutes before train departed.

I asked Ultra to pack up everything in my bag including the travel tickets while I freshened up and got ready. He did that and locked up all the doors and windows. Finally, after double checking everything and making sure that everything was in place, I locked the door. Ready to leave…

“Have you taken the tickets?” Ultra asked me. I said, “I thought I asked you to put it in the bag”. I was getting a little frustrated but there was no way we could go without tickets. Nor was there any point in fighting with him now. I found myself unlocking the door, running to the TV stand and putting the tickets in the bag. Finally, after a complete scan of the place again, it was locked and we started to walk towards the auto-rickshaw… It was 7:50pm

I was woken up from my thoughts when the auto suddenly came to a halt. The station was almost three fourths of a kilometer away. I asked the rickshaw driver what was the problem. He said that he had run out of fuel. We had to get down. The place was dark and it was at such a distance that no autos would agree to come from there to the railway station. It was 8:15 pm now. I could see the tension in Ultra’s face. But this was not the first blow to me that day. I asked him not to panic. We started to walk slowly towards the station. We passed through the “Metro” outlet, went under the yeswantpur bridge and towards the railway station. It was dark and we used the headlights of vehicles to guide us. We entered the station through a walkway directly over the tracks. It was 8:35pm now.

Since we were walking on the tracks itself we did not have to take the over bridge to get to our platform. We just ran over to the platform on which our train would come. Our past knowledge that the Garib Rath train would always leave from either platform 4 or 5 helped a lot. Finally, we saw our train – the green colored Garib Rath express comprising completely of AC coaches. We had finally made it to the train. It was 8:40pm now. We walked towards the train from the rear of it. Our coach was G12. So we expected it to be at the rear of the train. We crossed the first two general coaches and reached the first reserved 3A coach. It was marked “G1”! One more jhatka in the long list for today – and probably the last. We walked past almost the entire train (except the engine and G13) and finally reached our coach and ran to our seat. It was 8:45pm

Never in the history of our train travels had we reached a station so late. But we were happy that we had finally made it against all odds. The AC inside the train was a welcome relief for our sweating bodies. Both of us relaxed for a while and started to talk. We laughed about how pathetic we would be if we had finally managed to run till the train and remembered that we forgot the tickets back home! Thankfully that had not happened. Ultra asked me if I had kept the house keys safely. I said yes and checked in my bag to make sure. But I had packed so much stuff haphazardly that I could not find them. Just when I thought everything was fine again, we ran into this new “key” problem! Finally, as the train slowly moved out of Ypr platform at 8:53pm, we ransacked the whole bag and managed to find the keys. We were totally exhausted from the happenings. Right time for dinner, we thought.

As I lay in the comfort of my lower berth snuggled up in a cosy blanket that night, with the train rumbling past sleepy villages in rain, I reflected on the happenings of the whole day. We were pushed to the limits with one after the other tough situations inflicted on us. But we had finally made it to the train with our perseverance. I was wondering whether it was God’s way of punishing us for not attending the fest or something. After all, he is called the destroyer of all troubles. If someone messes with Him, He could as well present them with troubles- Right? Then this realization drew upon me. This year, I expected the experience of Hyderabad to be less exciting because I would miss all the festive fever of Karkala. But even before we reached Hyderabad, we had already experienced so many exciting moments that even with little happening, we would always return with so many memories to treasure. With this realization, all my worries, tensions and anger towards fellow cab-mates vanished and I was able to appreciate the beauty of life as God presented it to me. That’s the true rationale behind celebrating festivals Isn’t it?

PS: YPR - Railway code for Bangalore's new complementary railway station at Yeswantpur. Due to many long distance trains starting from here these days, the load on SBC (Bangalore City) railway station is greatly reduced.