.... 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………
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..............\