Sunday, September 20, 2015

For the love of trains, experiences and the Wardha bond

Train journeys have fascinated me ever since I was born. And for some reason, even after 23 years and uncountable train journeys, if I spot a train somewhere unexpected, I would cry out loud in excitement. No wonder, trains have seen a prominent presence in so many of my blog posts.

It’s a Saturday night in early September and I am sitting comfortably on the side-lower berth. My bedding is ready and most of the compartment lights have been switched off. Going by usual Indian train etiquettes and timings, 11 PM is very late and people are already midway through their sleep schedule. But train or no train, I doubt I can ever go to sleep this early. As per plans (since the moment I noticed the side berth had a laptop charging point), I should have been watching another episode of Suits Season 5, but events of the last couple of hours resulted in me sitting calm and writing this entry.
 
With a lot of time to bide, I took a good stroll around the station platform when I came upon this
huge name board and a thought- In the time of internet ticket bookings, there still is a huge population
that relies on these signposts to head to their destinations!
A few minutes after 9 this evening, my train arrived at Wardha. My ‘link’ train from Balharshah waits here for 1.5 hours for the ‘main’ train coming from Nagpur. The two trains then connect and proceed on the journey to the destination together. For an Indian train to have a 1.5 hour long scheduled stop is uncommon, and probably only links like these demand such huge time gaps ‘to be on time’.

With a lot of time to bide, I took a leisurely stroll around the station platform. The scene is as usual as any not-too-busy Indian railway station. I am more interested in the train. As I proceed towards the back of the train, I notice that train bogies to a different destination (that came with my train, but were supposed to be dis-augmented here) are still attached to mine. I wonder how the ‘main’ train will be linked to my ‘link’ train. I stroll around for a while and a very romanticised thought of sitting on the platform in front of my train and writing a blog struck me. I waived the thought away, thanks to a previous experience of writing a blog in the airport lounge and almost missing my flight. (Read here)

A few minutes past 10, I heard the announcement of the ‘main’ train’s arrival being made on a different platform. I quickly had my dinner and stood ready at the door of the compartment to check how this ‘connection’ gets made. (My guess was that the bogies to a different destination that were attached to the end of my train would move out of the platform and the ‘main’ train would arrive there and connect to mine. I was wrong)

My train started moving all of a sudden and quite fast. I realised only 6 bogies were being hauled by the engine instead of the usual 20 or more, and hence the speed. My bogie was in fact the very last one now. As I stood at the door, the train went out of the station for about a kilometre and came to a sudden halt. A minute later, the train started moving in the reverse direction and into a different platform where the ‘main’ train stood waiting for the ‘link’s arrival. About 10 metres from the main train, my train came to a halt. I got down and rushed to the 10 metre distance. Slowly the link started moving and with a slight bump to the main, came to a halt.

My train had arrived here as a slow moving passenger. It left as a superfast express. The Wardha Bond had been forged.
 
The Wardha Bond is forged!
I finally took my seat and started typing this blog entry. I usually prefer the side upper berth in trains, but owing to the absence of any old people in the lower berth and the fact that I prefer a window seat, I exchanged my berth with the lower-berth holder.

It all probably isn’t very interesting to read, but the way the railways work in India has always fascinated me. What else would justify my choice of taking a ‘local’ train ride from my destination station to my flat in Mumbai tomorrow morning?

I guess, even this post will be up once I am home and have a working internet connection; Indian Railways still has to work on this part.


Wrote this a few days ago, on my way to Mumbai. Posting it so late, for no particular reason.

Now read:
4. The Sixteenth Hour (What happens when a Rajdhani Express gets hijacked?)

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