Usually, I shy away from long train journeys. I find the prospect of travelling alone in a train boring, especially if the journey is long. Yet, I have to undertake a journey of around 3000 km across the breadth of the country to reach my college. I can still recall the last time I took the same journey. I read “A Thousand Splendid Suns” in that journey. Though the book was engrossing, I could not help feeling saturated by the monotonous journey.
This time also, my journey was supposed to be a lonely one. My father urged me to get a ticket in the Tatkal quota, so that I could spend one more day at home, and that will also give me a chance to have company with my classmates. Till about two days before the journey, I was not in favour of the change, though I relented at the end. I got a ticket in Sleeper Class, along with a waitlisted ticket in AC. I enjoyed my extra day at home to the fullest.
The prospect of leaving home for the next 5 months is always sad. That apart, I got to my business of packing and getting ready. Then, the things started falling apart. First, my AC ticket got confirmed, and my tatkal ticket could not be camcelled. I had two tickets with me. The journey turned into an extremely tiring, but memorable journey. On reaching the railway station at 9 in the morning, I came to know that the departure had been delayed by 4 hours. I decided to return home. What an early homecoming.
The train ultimately started at around 2:30. I found company immediately with a couple of my friends from my hostel. I had fun discussing things with my friends. I had also taken two books for reading, both of which I found very engrossing. Plus, I had with me my iPod and my Phone for music. My Laptop was safely locked in my suitcase. Things were looking good until we got a terrible news. Our train would go only upto Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, and from there, we would be transported by bus to another station Adavali, two hours from Ratnagiri. then, a train would take us to Udupi. That seemed frightening enough. Transporting an entire train would never be easy, and also, I had loads of luggage, plus my College Fee Draft. It unnerved me.
The journey was hopelessly long. The train used to stop at many stations and for abysmally long durations. At one station, it stopped for around two hours. I had been advised not to get down at stations by my parents, but this time I could not help myself. I got down at various stations for stretching my legs, and getting some fresh air. I also used to hang my head out of the door, while the train was moving, in order to get a feel of the rain. These are things which I have been strongly advised against, but did not apply to this journey.
I had been talking to one of co-passengers, who just happened to say that he did not have a ticket, I somehow mentioned that I had two tickets, and I offered him the other Sleeper ticket. When the train came to Bina, I got down and went with him to the Sleeper Class, and informed the Ticket Checker. But this spelt trouble for me. The train had started and there was no way I could get back to AC, as they are not connected. I had to wait for two hours before we reached Bhopal. I sat in another seat till then, and chatted with a senior, who was also in Computer Science. I was still quite tense, as all my luggage was back in AC. I went back to my original seat at Bhopal. The next day was pretty similar to the first. Long stoppages added to the irritation levels of the passengers. Still, time passed.
The chaos started at Ratnagiri. There were about 50 buses waiting to take us to Adavali. I struggled to board a bus and had to sit in one of the most uncomfortable positions for about two hours. Due to tiredness, I might have dozed off for about half an hour. The train was waiting for us at the station. I chained my luggage and then immediately slept off. I woke up at around 11 in the morning, and we were almost there. Reaching Udupi is almost always chaotic. We have to get to Manipal either by autorickshaws or by cabs. Cabs charge an exorbitant amount of money, and autorickshaws are hard to get. I had to pool in with one of my friends. I reached Manipal 11 hours from scheduled time, and completely missed the first day. Still, it was a memorable journey for many reasons. I will surely be reprimanded by my parents for the stuff I did on the journey, but I dont mind it, as long as I reached safely, albeit disoriented. Surely counts as the most eventful train journey of my life…