……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,
“BUY A GENERAL TICKET AND BOARD ANY TRAIN GOING TO THE DIRECTION OF MUMBAI” !#!!~~ …**.???
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……..