I had not eaten as much as a morsel throughout the day. I had stepped out to treat myself some Kachoris (stuffed deep fried savory) and tea. What the heck. I was to leave Rajasthan and not tasted a single one of those- not done! Smiling upon my whimsical fancies, I had gobbled two of those along with my cup of tea. All through this time, the old man had constantly been chattering with the Punjabi family! My time from 7pm to 10pm, out in cold (while suffering of cold), had passed by within a few eye- blinks. The Punjabi family left at 10.10pm, blessing me huge. That lady was only a few years elder to me- technically; yet she addressed me as “little young one”- how tired I must have looked.. 🙂
The coolie had appeared at 10.15pm sharp as he had promised. I had barely stepped out of the waiting area outside the waiting room when he had spotted me! He informed me that the platform had changed and the train was delayed too. He was rushing towards a different train that had then arrived, assuring me that he would be with me in no time. I had gone back to the waiting room- and narrated the same to the old man. The fellow had after sometime picked our baggage from the waiting room and stationed us at the changed platform. Disappearing yet one more time, he had told us to wait right there patiently for him.
It was 11pm. Half hour had gone by. There was no sign of the train or even the fellow.
A couple of more “language barrier” people had wanted to understand if they were boarding the right train!
Besides the other cancellations, 2 more trains were cancelled to Jaipur. So instead of those two, a third one was scheduled to arrive and leave- hopefully with me on board!
There were people around, who had tickets bearing train details of the cancelled ones. They seemed to be equally disturbed. A little help doesn’t hurt anyone. It didn’t hurt me either. I made them understand how the cancelled trains were now clubbed into a 3rd one. Overgrown for their age because of lethargy, there were few of these men were sprawled over the station seats, ogling at me. Really now- they had no decency to offer a seat to a woman or that oldman! Nevermind them.
The insect that I don’t like- yes a “Whatever” had appeared from nowhere and vanished again. Another good sign.. Poor things; they make my day whenever I dream of those.. yucks!!
The train arrived. The coolie as well! The TT was caught hold of. The old man did his trick once again-
“She happens to be my daughter.. We have been booked separately.. Any chances that she could also be put into the a/c class..?”
“What’s your name..?” the TT asked.
“Okay.. Your seat number is 5, same compartment, board the train, the rest of the stuff can be taken care of later”
I still owned the tickets of sleeper class; that had to be changed. However, my name was duly hand- written on the listings of the passenger details. So it was legal. 😀
The travel, seat and experience were dream like.
The alley seat was mine. Adjusting my stuff, I had perched on the oldman’s seat till the train started.
“Wowie, we have started..”
“Nopes, illusion. That’s the other one leaving.. Theory of relativity.. remember!!” The uncle at the facing seat had scolded me quiet. I had preened over to see at the other side- he was right. They all laughed- at my expense. I too laughed. It was after a long time that I did.
Text was sent to my oldie- telling him to doze off- I was fine..
The train did leave to rumble soon. After confirming that it was our train that time, I had screamed again- “Wowie, we have started.. C’mon, everyone run to catch it- or else you’ll miss it.. Hurry up..”
LOLss That’s me- I can’t sulk. I CAN NOT!
Rounds of laughter..
The TT guy had re –appeared. He had suggested I take the sleeping bunker instead of the alley seat. I had refused to. I had no plans to sleep anyways. Getting on the bunker up there was not my idea. I wanted to stay at the ground at all times. My compartment was the first one in that bogie. A fresh ticket was issued after checking the one I was carrying. Washing my face to leave the sand and dirt behind where it belonged, I had cozied myself putting up the clean sheets that the trains give. Tucking myself in 2 blankets and one warm shawl, I had started to leave my favorite state- to travel back to home. It was so warm in Rajasthan. The moment I had stepped out to travel to the station, the weather had changed. It was becoming chillier and even foggy! I had loved my window seat- although nothing was really visible.
A fool’s grin was pasted on my face for the entire travel.
I was 5 or 6 years of age, when had travelled with my parents. I was so bothered why that train didn’t whistle. I was told that that was because that was an electric train. Sigh! This one whistled through the way. Every time that it did, I smiled more. I had leaned on one side facing the window keeping the pillow as my back rest. The sweet TT guy and other fellows kept asking me if I had needed anything much. Their eyes didn’t drip of lustrous thoughts!
Middle of the night, some travelers had crashed in without tickets. They were pulled out and made to leave. One was in my compartment too. It was fun. How these people had wanted to travel without paying the fine charges and the ticket expense. How this TT guy had wanted to know from me which way those fellows went- coz I was the only one awake.
It was turning out to be a lovely adventure
After sometime, I realized I was hardly able to breathe. My cold was fine. So was my body temperature. Aah, they had switched on the heater. I practically folded my palms and requested to switch it off. The attendants only smiled. The rest of the passengers were all throwing their weight around, asking to switch on the a/c when had just boarded the train. The same crowd then wanted the hot air blowers. Half hour more and I had needed the a/c to be switched on. I had only worn my top and track pants and yet sweating. Had those blowers been not there, or if I was left to travel in the sleeper class, I would have almost died. My cold would have consumed me alive.
From 12 in the midnight till 5 in the morning, I had shifted to adjust myself on the seat. It was after so long that I enjoyed so much. I love to travel. The journey is what I look forward to. So much time to sit and brood- without taking the guilt.. 🙂 I had kept shifting to doze off and brood the whole of the way. Since I was seated in the same direction as the train moved, I was more than comfortable with its motion.
A train full of passengers was snoring when I was jolted back to senses. Maybe the train had pulled its brake. A station was lit outside. It was nothing like where all the train had stopped during the travel. It was well lit with platform numbers and LED lights displaying the time. It was completely deserted. I looked at the time. It was 5.30am. The cab driver had already spoken with me at 4.30am- so was I reaching the Jaipur station..?
I wore my socks back, tied the shoe laces, and washed my hands and face- when the coach attendant guy woke up. The poor guys sleep outside the compartment in cold. He looked completely lost- and then popped-
We have reached!
I shook the oldman awoke and switched on the lights. Asking him to wait, I had stepped out to inspect the station myself. There was not even a dead soul around. It was somewhat foggy and eerily quiet. All trains were cancelled and hence, there was no one at the station! I hunted for the cabbie outside the station. Bringing him back to the coach, I had started to leave the station. Oldman was tucked with me.. 🙂 The situation was such that even the Volvo coaches were cancelled. The professor uncle and his professor daughter looked terrified. I requested my cabbie to arrange for a taxi for them too! Spending half hour in perfect cold and with no live soul around, arranging for wheels for them; I had stepped inside my taxi.
15 minutes drive and then dense fog- wow! It was getting better and better.
How I had avoided traveling to Jaipur while travelling the other way. There I was, travelling via the same route. I had visited that city a few times before this. The 1st time I did on an office pleasure trip, we had witnessed a series of accidents. Infact, the other car I was not travelling in, had met with one. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt anyone majorly. Yet, an accident is one- no matter the intensity. I had almost come to hate the “Fortress road”. 6 years later, while our car sped from within the fog, I could sniff and tell. The driver nodded affirmatively when I asked him about it. That strange eeriness was gone. The fauna didn’t seem to haunt me anymore. For years I had harbored strange thoughts about that one place.
Then again after more than a year and half later, I had travelled to Jaipur to meet Himanshu.
Ever since, even the mention of that place used to break me into tears. It was still dark at 6 in the morning. Unknowingly, I had avoided visiting that place since long. Although I try to keep my mind open; I had failed to this one time. So very dramatically the forces of nature had brought me till this point. Sitting inside a speeding car, I apologized for having held such strong thoughts against the Pink City. The city responded by pouring in more fog and sending a huge bus almost at the same time so it could act as the path finder. It was so dense that one could just not visualize outside the window!
Exiting from Jaipur, after the sunrise, I had covered my face with the shawl, a very rare phenomenon. My nose was freezing and I had to keep it warm. So the only way left to achieve that was to keep the warm exhaled air around me by covering my face. I had blissfully dozed off only to occasionally nod if the oldman or the driver asked something. We even stopped at Mid- way. I gorged on Puri- aaloo!! Yes, I was being me.. 😀 My cold could have gotten worse, making me feverish. Instead, it behaved. After reaching home at 1 in the noon, washing and having a quick breakfast, the oldman was booked a taxi towards his home. He had called up past 6 that evening to confirm that he had reached safely.
That was not all. Since I was to travel for more than 2 weeks, I had emptied both of my fridges and raw stock i.e., onions, potatoes, tomatoes and eggs too. Thank fully, listening to my instincts, I had left one in the refrigerator shelf sitting. The next evening, I had gone out to veggie shop as well, to the local vegetable market. It sprawls right across the C-II block gate. The distance from my home till that gate is long on foot, but the market sits bang opposite the road. It was only after I had stocked up my veggies that I had fallen sick.
So much of my survival instincts.
As I type the last few words of this episode, I feel that I have recovered. The railway tracks run less than 100 metres away from my house. The same tracks would have dropped me here at Gurgaon if I had boarded that Inter-city for which I was initially refused seats and then later advised that we get inside and ask for tickets. My house shakes every time any goods train passes by. Anytime now I hear the train whistle, this adventure comes right up in my mind.
It was some fun when I had boarded the Mumbai Locals a few years back. This time, it was even better.
The whistle of the trains would never sound the same way that it did!