Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Trains and a Stampede

With my 6-week internship at Times Now over, I took the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi to Bhubaneswar on Sunday night. This train journey had way too many ‘first-timers’ for me, than I had possibly imagined. But before I get into all that, here are a little background details:

Considering the fact that my internship schedule couldn’t be finalized early, there was no way I could have got my tickets booked on time and when finally it was done, Rajdhani was the only train where there was some hope of getting a confirmed one. The booking status showed ‘RAC’ but it was confirmed well in advance. On Sunday morning I woke up to check my PNR status and got to know that the train will be departing 4 hours and 5 minutes late from New Delhi today. A little research later, I knew the details. (Interested? Check TOI here) Charts Prepared and then the bad news- I was allotted a middle berth! Why not an Upper or Side Upper? How will I sit-eat-read-sleep without being disturbed?


I was free and was not in the mood to sleep and I had my camera. Curtains drawn, let's click! :D
If you noticed, this is a side-upper berth and to clarify- This is a collage from photos from an earlier trip, not the one I am talking about right now.
Anyways, I was on the train at the scheduled 9.15 PM departure. I was on time, but the train was not and more than that, the unforgettable experience of the past few minutes had made me wonder for some time if I would even be able to reach the station on time. Rewind...


The time is 7.55 PM. I am standing at the Chhatarpur Metro Station. My uncle just dropped me here so I could reach the station sooner. The traffic on the road, considering the time and the rain, would make sure it takes at least 20 hours to cover the 20 km distance from Vasant Kunj to New Delhi Railway Station. Here, the LED display is showing the destination ‘Jahangirpuri’ of the next train but there is no time stamp with it. Ok, I think. This is the peak hour. The crowd is more. The train should be here within 5 minutes. And considering that New Delhi is just 14 stations away, it shouldn’t take me more than 35-40 minutes to reach there. I should be at the station platform by 8.45 PM.

I keep checking my watch and leaning forward to see if I can locate the headlights of the next train coming towards me. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing. It is 8.10 PM and I am beginning to worry, when the train finally comes in and I breathe a sigh of relief. Only worry now: The train should move normally and there mustn’t be any interruption in the service. I can still make it into the railway platform by 9 PM.

For those of you who do not belong to Delhi and are not acquainted with the Delhi metro, this route map might help! ;)
I get into the train and sure enough, by 8.30 PM we are at Central Secretariat, and the crowd seems to be increasing at an alarming rate. I have to stay near the door on the left after Rajiv Chowk, or I won’t be able to get out at the next station, I say to myself. Rajiv Chowk station- I am pushed by the outgoing swarm of people and I am not able to keep holding my strolley. The laptop bag is safe in my other hand. I just manage to get hold of the strolley again when I see a huge number of feet stamping on it. Half the train empties and I am at the exit doors. But this is just half the story. It’s time for people to get in as well! I am pushed again, trying to stop would imply a few fractured bones. Somehow the doors get closed and I find myself stuck between some people at the opposite door. It’s going to be impossible to get out at New Delhi, it’s just the next station. It’s 8.45 already. I don’t think it’s possible to get out anywhere before Kashmere Gate and then taking the return train to New Delhi. There is no way I am going to be able to make it to the station. I get to know that a group of men standing right in front of me need to get out at New Delhi as well. Relief. The train stopped and we pushed our way through. Finally I am out of the ordeal. The most disastrous Metro travel this has been in four years!

Seeing there is hardly any time now and realizing that I still have to go through the security checks at the railway station, I rush to get out of the metro station. Another surprise! It’s raining! I wear my cap and run towards the station entry. Normal entry or the less crowded one via the VIP parking, which one should I take? I risk the normal one, considering it is nearer. In five minutes, I am rushing on the foot over bridge to platform 11, from where my train would be leaving in less than 10 minutes. I will make it, I assure myself, as I climb down the stairs on platform 11. And now, the biggest relief: The train is not here yet! God knows how to play tricks well, I smirk. The train pulls in a few minutes later and I take my seat.

My train stationed at Kharagpur Railway Station. I got down for some fresh air and to take a look around the longest railway platform in the world
If you were reading intently, then probably you would remember that I said something about too-many-first-timers in this journey of mine. So, here they are bulleted:
  1. First time, I took the metro to catch a train at a railway station. This means…
  2. First time, there was nobody to see me off at the railway station (I had wished for this! :D)
  3. First time, I was boarding the Rajdhani at night.
  4. First time, I was travelling without a printed ticket. I relied solely on the SMS from IRCTC!
  5. First time, I had a good amount of conversation with the people sitting around me in the train.
  6. First time, the conversation was in pure Odia. (Yes, it felt weird to talk in Odia after so long! :D)
  7. First time, I had a middle berth to sleep in and I had a clear view out of the window. (I remember when I was young, I chose the lower berth all the time and sat staring out of the window all night, because I loved not-to-waste-time by sleeping in the train)
  8. First time, I had a novel in my bag which I have to finish asap (so as to complete my Dan Brown series. The novel in question is his first, Deception Point) but was in no mood to take it out as my laptop kept me busy! :D
  9. First time, I watched so many genres of films/TV shows (horror-thriller-comedy) in the same journey on my laptop. Sherlock, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Resident Evil, etc.
  10. First time, I missed an early morning tea/coffee in the Rajdhani because I slept too long and the attendant didn’t wake me up before it was breakfast time. (And I love the food served on Rajdhani way-too-much although the food isn’t that great :D)
And I think that’s it. 10? Well, I thought there would be more, but I can’t recall anything else now. Anyways, I am sure you enjoyed reading this. Or at least now you are laughing because you just realized that you had been reading some useless time-pass stuff since the last few minutes. Which one is it? :D

Now that I am home, I am going to spend the upcoming few days doing nothing except Eat-Drink-Sleep. Oh, I forgot, with my current download speed reaching 320 kbps, it’s time to see some good movies and catch up on the many TV series that I have been missing out on.

Till I write next, tada! :)

4 comments :

  1. hehehe!!happy home!! :D
    u r lucky that u got the first timer of taking the metro to the railway stn! :p coz i try so hard each time to convince the elders to let me take the metro from the airport n let me reach mzn alone..everytym in vain! :\
    n first timers are fun!!! :D

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    1. Haha..I am sure you will have ur first time fun soon enough :D

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  2. Haha Haha... Enjoyable Journey...!!!

    This break-journey nearly got me this time... After a delay of Guwahati-Kolkata Flight of around an hour and even after no time getting wasted in collecting luggage or anything, rushing through the Kolkata Ring Road to avoid the crowd of the city and stopping the taxi near the still train at the adjoining platform of Howrah Station, still was unable to catch the train as it started moving while crossing the Terminus and running after it did no good... Realized the value of the sentence of a forwarded message, "Ask the value of 1 minute to someone who has missed a train" as I indeed missed it by half a minute... Nice experience...

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    Replies
    1. Grt experience indeed. I am sure situations like this do not happen to us every other day and when they do, they become unforgettably funny to recall :D

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