Sunday, December 1, 2013

Travelling ..... To MUMBAI via VADODARA

.... the train was  moving at snail’s pace, time on my wrist watch  showed 14.15 hrs…  we were heaving a sigh  of relief as the Vadodara station was approaching………
It was a very exhausting and horrible  experience, awake all night,
.. getting down at all the stations wherever the train stopped,  helped us to relax our body, as this was a chance to sit and get some fresh air…….
Countless KULLADH (mud cups) of tea,  almost at every stop, helped us keep going…..
As we were moving down towards South-Western part of India during June Month, we started getting  the feel of approaching monsoons ,  light rains had created cool weather in some stretches, which was providing a very pleasant & soothing. 
With every kulladh  tea we had at different stations while traveling down,  started  revealing  the changing topography , ..
 people in different  costumes, particular to their regions,  ..
the changing dialects with every passing station,  ..
the different approaches of the  REHADIWALLAS  (cart vendors)  for selling their wares……
 all were changing, 
EVEN  the tea we were sipping at each stop was changing,  in HUE (color), Shapes & sizes (kulladh), and flavour (smell) ….  BUT one thing seemed consistent …everytime  we were sipping the hot drink  we have to scratch our taste buds to extract its  taste……   

IT was around 15:00 hrs, we were trying to locate a PCO, on arrival at Vadodara station, located one at platform 1, waited for our turn, as there was a queue  of around 5 people… we wanted to speak with the contact  person Mr GHAGh ( SM- HR and Admn) in Company Mumbai Office, informing our reaching  Vadodara, and wanted to reconfirm our Hotel RUBY  details,  as we would be reaching Mumbai Late at night that day
….. It was already ten time I have dialled the office number… but  was not getting connected…..I gave up !!  told Suji to try…. He  also tried again and again, without success…. The PCO incharge sitting outside, started wondering, what these three chaps doing inside the PCO booth…for the last 10-15 minutes,, fortunately, there was no one waiting outside to make call, we kept on trying, PCO incharge was wondering but did not POKE to come out……seeing  our efforts going in vain, we asked dudeja ji, now you try, you being senior may be phone could be more docile, and  can let us get through the connection…. Dudeja ji with his seniority at stake started trying….. but gave up after 5 minutes…. We all three got out from the Booth, leaving it to fate… on our arrival at Mumbai.. … PCO incharge was staring at us,  our 15-20 minutes struggle inside Booth did not generate even a single rupee revenue for him... 
We decided, we should go and eat something as  our stomach were grumbling in hunger and find our next connection  to Mumbai. Checked at Ticket counters, got the advice take general  ticket, board next train leaving for Mumbai central at around 16:25 hrs, then try your luck with TC for reservation on board, as there was not much rush, chances were that TC will do the reservation on Board. Bought out tickets, went to railway restaurant… where we got introduced with BATATA WADAs, WADA PAVs  and PAV BHAJI…. had some tea., enjoyed the  lazy ambiance of the large spaced restaurant…full of square tables  surrounded   with chairs.. But not many  customers.
Back to platform 1,  decided to try calling Mumbai office once again, thinking phone lines must have improved by now, went to PCO again. PCO incharge smiled on seeing us back, since there was no one calling, we went inside the booth and dialled the office number…. To our pleasant surprise …the phone on other side was ringing………
Hello…. Hello….
Please connect to Mr Ghagh…. Listen to Music while operator connected the line…
Hello, Mr Ghagh, I am k..calling from Vadodara….. we are three MTs directed by Delhi office to reach Mumbai for joining…has reached Vadodara, and will be taking connecting train shortly, which will arrive late at night.. we just wanted to inform you our present position and wanted to reconfirm our hotel details….
Ok..Good, Good , You called !! said Mr Ghagh,  … There is a slight change in your hotel… Now the Hotel booking is done in another hotel- HOTEL NAGINA….  Take down the details….. Take rest on arrival and reach office tomorrow around 10-10:30AM, for further  directions.
..Thank you sir…. Saying,  I put the phone down.
Jotted the hotel details, thanking our stars….had we not managed  to  get through the phone line, it could have been another unimaginable scene at a Brand new place for us, reaching hotel where we did not have any booking… that too in the middle of night……..

Boarded train to  Mumbai, in a reserved compartment,  after speaking with a TC. It was a while after Train leaving the Vadodara station, TC came to our compartment, issued the reservation slips,  many seats were  unoccupied…..  extremely exhausted from the general compartment travel, we lay down on our respective seats and  in no minutes were wandering in the world of dreams.

Waken up  by a commotion,  lifted my head to see outside window, it was getting dark,  seemed many hours passed after train left Vadodara, some people entered the compartment rushing , started shoving our legs  to the inner side of the seat, and occupying the space thus created. We were in the state of dizziness half sleep and half awake……  we again went on the sleeping mode, with the noises of people sitting, chatting and  playing cards, kept striking our ears. (Later on realised that those people  were  regular travellers, commuting daily between Mumbai, Vapi and Valsad).
The train  entered  the Mumbai central station, at platform 3. It was around 22:45 hrs,  coming  to halt with a loud screeching noise.   Half of the travellers has already alighted in earlier stops at Borivali and Dadar. Picking our belongings, we moved towards the exit.  Coming out of the station exit , searched for  a yellow top, black body  taxi (Fiat make) which are the most visible taxis in Mumbai. The taxi driver took around  25-30 minutes to drop us from Mumbai central station to our Hotel Nagina in Bhaykhala, charging us around Rs70/- (a substantial amount during those days) . which we later came to realise that the taximan took us on RIDE circling around the deserted night roads simply to jack up his meter bill, probably he read on our face that we are NEW FOLKS IN TOWN and can be TAKEN FOR RIDE, and that what he did !!
Completing hotel  formalities , we  checked in, asked at reception, what we can get to eat, person at reception politely said, restaurant is closed at this hour. Since we were absolutely hungary and tired, we made begging requested,  at least check  your kitchen, help us get whatever could be managed, after getting assurance, that something will be delivered at the room, we  retired to our room. By the time we freshened ourselves, door bell rang, and we have our dinner coming in….
Yellow Daal, Rotis , cut onions, lemons, and some pickles……

.............Stuffed ourselves with this delicacies, we went to sleep..............\

Sunday, November 17, 2013

the day of RECKONING

……and finally  the day of reckoning  arrived !!..
With the drooping faces  full of despair and hopelessness ,  we three of us met at platform 1 on the Paharganj side of  the New Delhi railway station. Staring each other and thinking about our next move, we sat on a bench next to the entrance of platform 1,  we did not have any reservation for any train..   Dudeja ji  being  4 years senior to us, he was our obvious choice  for his lead…………
Checking at the ticket window and the enquiry counters and endless analysis of the display boards, we explored all possible permutation and combinations of getting a reservation and a proper train connection to reach our target destination….MUMBAI…………..
 phooooo.   All in vain,………..
 except for a great  guidance from one of  a  guiding light…. in a black coat….  the TT,
Affirmed by even more practical advisers….in reds with Badge……

Our search finally narrowed  on an evening train, Leaving New Delhi to Jamnagar  around 9:30 PM,  idea was to travel till Baroda on this train and get some connecting train from Baroda to Mumbai, that was the most genius idea we could generate after 4 hours of Brain storming………..

The train was “Jamnagar Express…….” Supposed to be leaving New Delhi from Platform  6….  At  21:50 hours.  Since we were supposed to be travelling in a general compartment, We were aware,   having  dekhoo at the general compartments of other trains …leaving earlier that day…our travelling will be more of a fight to remain inside the compartment   rather than finding a space to stand…  we stuffed ourselves  with  some parathas,  omletes   and tea  at the railway catering counter, and bought  some Parle Gs  as standby provisions for the hunger attack during night…….  

Tightening out trunks and bed rolls tucking them on our shoulder backs  and holding tight in hands, we struggled  through overbridge  to reach  platform  6.

We were standing at the platform 6, waiting for the train to arrive, there was a queue  of fellow travellers, travelling on  general ticket monitored by Lathi Wielded Policewalas , at the platform area where the general compartment was supposed to be positioned…. As if some ration provisions are going to be distributed….

The clock was showing 21.35 hrs….but  train was nowhere in sight….
Wondering and getting uneasy, we were getting impatient, bending over  the edge of platform and looking  in both sides of the train track, to ascertain if the train is on its way to platform,
 it was, not only us, who were taking turns from the queue to go over the edge, bending forward  to look on both side of the track, many other people on the platform waiting for the train were religiously doing the same process, as if their religious bowing will attract the train to the platform…..
When the clock was almost reaching  21.40 hrs….we overheard  an announcement  calling our trains number and name…… we tried  to concentrate in that moment of chaos, to listen the  announcement…….
Platform 6 se janewali gaddi Jamnagar Express   ab  platform  no 4 se jayegi……

On account of last moment change of platform…..with all the possible Selective explicits, … infact it was involuntary deliberation….. by  almost everyone ….  picking up their bag and baggages  and rushing to platform 4  through OVERBRIDGE……UTTER CHAOS !!!

All the orderly queues maintained  for General Compartment entry at Platform 6, were a scene of mess  at platform 4, Policeman were striking their lathis….in vain, People were clamouring at the entry gates, shoving in their Bags and their belongings…Which could include anything  &everything!   besides Bags & Bedrolls, BIG POTLees …colourfully painted trunks,   buckets were there, even de-assembled charpois could be seen being shoved inside !!!
The lower half of the gate was blocked, due to all these essentials being carried inside…. Some over enthusiastic  travellers, on seeing the Lower side of gate being choked and almost blocked, started showing their superman  knacks, climbing through the windows  , started trying to crawl inside compartment  from the upper portion of the gate….. some people clinging at the windows… desperately trying to  block the window seats using their handkerchiefs and hands.  Seeing all this ruckus  ,  people Howling and growling…. We three of us were the  spectators…. Unable to gather sufficient strength to be part of this grand show……….

Railway authorities are very generous…..they give sufficient time for this kind of show .. almost after 15-20 minutes, it seemed that things started  settling in….. the mad rush at the gates seemed cooled down…. Now it seemed it was our turn to seek our space  in the compartment for our onward journey….    Picking up our baggage,  we  push ourselves in the doorways…
to find Space sufficient to mount ourselves for our onward travel to the new world……..
…… in the alley between  the TOILETS……..