Monday, 15 August 2011

In A Flap

And so I was on my way to Pune FINALLY. Had been planning for months, but something or other came in the way of the road to Pune.

Vijji had called me a month ago a month before, and said that she would be going to Pune and would be visiting a mutual friend who had been ill for over two months. I was elated to note that the day was a Wednesday  and I  could go too as it was a free day. I had decided in advance that I would take the bus as I usually did.
It had been raining cats and dogs for many days before the much awaited journey.I had been advised not travel by road as I had to come back on the same day , the traffic conditions could turn chaotic.
Just two nights before I was to leave, I decided to travel by train instead, the least that could happen would be some minor delay. So I asked Nikki to book my tickets on the net and she willingly did it and got me the printouts the next day.
And then it was GET SET GO. The taxi came at the appointed time , so did the train and the breakfast when the train chugged off, followed by the much needed sleep in the comfortable seat. All ON TIME! Just before  I fell asleep I checked my ticket once again, return in the evening at  6.05 hours. Great , now onto dreamland.
I arrived on time in Pune and took an auto to where Vijji was staying with her son. She had offered to fetch me from the station but seeing the distance I told her that I would come on my own. Vamsi , Vijji's son was to come and pick me up at an appointed place. I got a good honest auto driver and reached without any trouble.
We met and talked for some time and then decided to go out for lunch. We were supposed to go to visit our friend at about 3pm.It was all sailing along smoothly , we finished lunch and proceeded to Boat Club Road.
Once there we were happy to see that Kash was better but very tired and looking a bit peaked because of the ordeal she had gone through. Kash is such a wonderful hostess, we enjoyed the lovely afternoon and the Colonel and she kept us entertained along with scrumptious goodies for tea.
The afternoon passed much too soon and it was time for me to leave for the station for my return journey. Check ticket and off we go . Kash's husband dropped me to the station and I waved a goodbye.

I entered the station and looked at the the prompter above for my train and the platform number. I did not see it. Huh? Looked down at the printout and back up at the prompter, still no mention of my train. There was a porter standing close by, so I asked him where this train was supposed to come. He looks at me and shakes his head....... no train at 6.05pm but there is one at 5.55. WHAT? Its 5.35 pm , back to the prompter to confirm, he is right, the train are at 5.55, 6pm and then at 6.15pm and only one to Mumbai. God Almighty , now what? I then looked at the printed board showing all the trains and the timings, HELP.... my train had left at 6.05 AM. ACTION STATIONS!!  5.55 here I come, but how ? There was a ticket counter where 3 people were waiting to buy tickets, ENQUIRIES AT WINDOW 24 ONLY. Where in the dickens was number 24? Start running about like a flapping hen searching for 24 to no avail. Time ticking by. Finally find a counter which is empty and the guy behind him my ticket, he says but a ticket at any counter and take the train at DARN IT 5.55pm. There is a serpentine queue at the ticket counter, I will never catch the train.. Oh what about that counter where there were only three people? Rush back still flapping. Buy a ticket to get to the train unreserved . Its 5.45. Now flap really hard  and reach the platform but where do I board? Brain screaming at me to get on wherever there is a door. I do just that. Flapping stops and panting starts. I ask a gentleman where I go with this ticket. He points to the general compartment and I gingerly make my way there. WOW! Not an inch of decent standing space even. How will I stand there for the next three and a half hours. Edge back to the other compartment , the helpful man tells me to find a place to sit there and pay the ticket collector the extra fare for the seat when he comes around. She comes and is instantly by others with tickets like mine. So this is official, God you are really kind! Pay the extra fare and settle down , thought for a minute about taking a chance at the next station for the air conditioned coach but better sense prevailed.

Heaved a sigh of relief and settled down to sleep. Ordeal over. Peace again.

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