My Kinda Travelogue – Part 2
Posted by AtPeace on October 17, 2005
I gaped at Prince, open-mouthed, as he stepped over the connector. ‘Idhu namma train illa, erangunga’, he bustled around, hastening everyone and total pandemonium ensued. And before we could rally around, the compartment door had been opened and a few people disembarked – I should say jumped. Cos there wasn’t any platform for them to gaily step onto. The train had long past moved from the station and there was only a slope with plants growing alongside. Trust me when I say all of this happened real quick. I don’t wish to go into any more detail. Suffice to say that we tried to drive sense into Prince that you don’t go about pulling chains in running trains and jumping out wherever you please. And failed. But the elusive TTR eventually showed up and those who had got down were made to get back on the train. Terrible.
(All right, I’m gonna refer to Prince by P, Deepti by D etc from now on. Me’s tired of writing entire names.)
As there wasn’t much space in the compartment, the TTR moved over to the next compartment, P and J in tow. D, S and I helped the juniors put away their luggage – the place was getting crowded by the minute, with a hundred interested onlookers peeping from everywhere. Well, what else did I expect? We had stopped the ruddy train and all those virtuous citizens who had turned in promptly at 10 were wide-awake now, obviously wondering what the hell happened. As someone commented rudely about how they ‘knew from the way we barged into the train that something of this sort would happen’, I got really bugged. Honestly, we had enough things to handle without listening to disparaging remarks from passers-by.
I couldn’t take this crap and so, weaved my way across the connector to the next compartment where the TTR was busy writing something; at the same time asking P what had happened. P explained that we got into the wrong (Rockfort) train. The TTR asked us to produce the ticket, of course, and P pulled it out from his pocket. He looked at P queerly before saying ‘Idhu Erode Express ku ticket, Rockfort ku illa. Erode express Srirangam la nikkave nikkadhu.’ I think at least some 10 pairs of eyes bore into P’s, as it was he who had (along with N) booked the tickets and told us that we were returning by Rockfort. (To be entirely fair, the day the tickets were booked, P had sent us all an email with both the to and from trichy train details – and it did contain ‘Erode Express’. However, we all concentrated on the ‘to’ train and none of us really noted the return train details. Later on, P had confused himself into thinking we were travelling by Rockfort and none of us disputed his statement. So, it really is everybody’s fault.)
Well, it was turning out to be a day full of unexpected twists. *Sigh* The TTR had meanwhile, begun filling up a form for the fine, of course, and lo and behold, P indignantly questioned the TTR as to why we had to pay the fine. ‘Sir, around 10 people got into the wrong train by mistake…. Isn’t it a valid reason?’. F***. ‘No, P, it isn’t’, I almost shouted, absolutely flabbergasted and J began hastily quietening P. The TTR, meanwhile, was unmindful of all this, and was busily composing a letter (apparently from P addressed to God-knows-who). Ultimately, P paid the fine. That was when I noticed the two railway constables standing right next to us and was gripped by an instant, insane desire to laugh at the absurdity of the situation we had landed ourselves in (if you don’t pay the fine, you may be sentenced to an imprisonment of smth like 6 months, right?). I controlled the impulse, of course.
Anyways, on enquiry, the TTR told us that we could we able to get our ‘real’ train at a down line station (Arandhangi? Vedharanyam? Some such vague name). We bombarded him with several questions. Andha train ethana mani ku andha station ku varum? 1AM, 15-20 mins after this train reaches there. Evlo neram nikkum? Endha platform? I finally asked what I dreaded. Andha train la engaloda confirmed berths-a RAC pax ku kuduthirupangala? Most probably. Will we be allowed to travel then? Yes, you might not have a berth or a seat though. Indha train la ippo ticket vanganuma, until that vague-named station? No, it’s okay.
The TTR finally departed leaving us in gloomy silence. We slowly settled near the doors, with our luggage. It was past 11, I think and we soon fell to discussing gen. things when a kindred soul from that compartment offered advice. ‘Normal-a indha madhri group-a travel pannum podhu, ticket-a photocopy eduthu ellarukum kuduthudunga. That way, even if the person having the ticket doesn’t turn up, you can still travel with that copy, if you can provide adequate proof of your identity.’ (Cool! I never knew this funda, did you?) We thanked him heartily and he retired to his berth.
A short while later, P came over from the other side, with the most pathetic look on his face. I grinned – the guy looked so remorseful, it was so funny. ‘Enna, P? Poi utkaru… We have got over an hr… evlo neram nippa?’, I asked and he replied, his voice sounding every bit like that of a pained soul, ‘Illa Madhu, unga ellarayum ipdi tharai-la utkara vechutene’. ‘Hey, it’s okay P, in a way it’s good we got into this train. Namma train doesn’t stop at Srirangam, we’d have missed it if we had been waiting there… at least now, we’re gonna catch it soon.’ He wouldn’t let himself get pacified. He looked sorrowfully at S, who added ‘P, poi utkaru… we’re all fine’. He still looked like someone right out of a funeral home when D got up, ‘P, ippo edhuku feel panra? Ippo enna achu? We’re all safe, our luggage’s safe, we’re going to catch our train in a little while and we’re going to reach Chennai exactly as planned, safe and sound. Vera enna venum unakku?’. This didn’t pacify him either! We ultimately had to ask one of the junior guys to take him and make him sit down. He did keep popping in, once in a while, guilt etched on every inch of his face.
The rest of the journey passed peacefully. We got down in the right station and managed to get into the right train. Sadly, only 4 of our 10 or so berths were free and we had to share them.
There was a small disagreement there, as to who would take the berths, everyone graciously offering it to everyone else. P insisted that we girls could share the berths amongst us. D and I absolutely refused. I have spent too many nights on the train, simply yapping away and I had no necessity of sleep that night. Plus I was on leave the next day, which I was gonna spend sleeping anyway, as I usually do after any trip. P wouldn’t accept. Guess he was trying to make-up for what happened. The worst part was it became a guys vs girls thing. I mean, if P didn’t want a berth, heck, it’s his choice. But why poor N, J, B and the rest of the guys? N had already dozed off on one of our berths even as were discussing this! But no, P wouldn’t have it that way. *sigh* I gave up. And we girls finally shared the available berths, after offering one to N. It was actually uncomfortable, with hardly any space to move a limb, but the magic that train travel is, we had soon drifted off to sleep…
There were no more adventures (thankfully!) for the rest of the journey and we woke up to find ourselves in good old Chennai and sleepily made way to our homes.
Poor Prince still feels guilty over this entire episode.
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