November 1, 2017

On The Tracks

by Binu Alex
by Binu Alex
On The Tracks
Part I

This is not a story of courage, empowerment or inspiration. This is a recollection of a train trip and those who are here accidentally will find this worthless and out of the place. At this point, you may exit and read something better. Those who have relevance, please continue to read.

I was on a mission to Delhi and it so happened that a close friend happened to be also heading to the same destination. Let's call him Babubhai for the sake of secrecy. When I say mission, it doesnt mean some RAW or IB mission but a simple official work. So relax. And Babubhai was not on this mission but just doing his duty. He works as a TTE with Indian Railways and it so happened that he was assigned to take Rajdhani Express to Delhi. So "I immediately booked a waitlisted ticket" and decided to make a train trip in a different way.

The boarding point was Kalupur Railway Station and we decided to meet up at 5.15, a clear 30 minutes before the train departs. But it changed to Sabarmati station for better convenience. Sabarmati has been synonymous for a long period as I used to make an hour long trip to Mahesana - some 80 kms from here - daily when I used to serve the government of India. So with the same confidence I reached Sabarmati station only to find that I was the only person at the platform. I waited for a few minutes and asked a completely relaxed vendor whether I was at the right place. I heard a big NO from him. I never knew that Vikas also got into the Meter gauge lines and it has now got converted to Broad gauge. I rushed to the original place where the train was supposed to come and met Babubhai. I am now all set to board the train.

Now this description looks like a script where the protagonist has seen a train for the first time and he is so excited that he writes a memoirs out of it. Hang on. This is partially true. Without much ado, let me continue....

The train majestically chugged on to the platform and like a swarm of bees, a few young turks with well ironed suits and ties made their way out of the Pantry Car on to the platform. Their shoes, however, did not match their wardrobe. They all wore sports shoes and spoke chaste Haryanvi starting every sentence with 'Bhaisaab" may be as a mark of respect or as a conversation starter. They greeted Babubhai with as much respect as Amitbhai greets Narendrabhai. So let's make Babubhai the chief protagonist here. I was later told that they were all international level sports persons and represented India at various levels. But will they be asked by the Railways to run a marathon at the speed of train that they are carrying their sports attires to duty? I stopped short of asking this to them.

How did this name "Babubhai" come into existence for the protagonist is a mystery. It sounds like an octogenarian guy but the fact is completely contradictory. Here is a person who combs his hair and moustache every hour, maintains the body at whatever cost it may take and chills out. You will not be blamed if you have imagined that he may be carrying a mobile Iron to iron out the creases on the clothes. Now all these qualities never suited a name Babubhai. But for the sake of maintaining his secrecy, let's continue to address him with no changes whatsoever.

The train moved out of Sabarmati and I "forsake my seat" to sit with the team of enthusiastic Train Ticket Examiners (TTEs) in the pantry car. I was offered soup - very strangely option of Tomato or Hot and Sour was on cards - and some snacks. The journey will end 13 hours later in New Delhi and there are some interesting moments for the night.


Part II

Coming Soon.....

Note : Some of the "facts" here are not factually correct. They are made up. Readers are at their liberty to guess which are they.... Not necessary to point out but keep the secret sacrosanct.

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