My journey to Nagpur last weekend was no less than eventful. The festival of Rakshabandhan fell on the long weekend. Moreover some people also had a leave on 19th August. So taking advantage of the leaves and spacious Indian Railway bogies, most of the home going enthusiasts thronged Vidarbha Express (It runs between Mumbai CST and Gondia via Nagpur). I was one of them 🙂
I couldn’t muster a confirm reservation for myself in the Third AC compartment. So I asked my friend who apparently knew an agent to book a tatkal ticket for me. Promptly he helped me with the bogey and the seat number. However there were two others who had sought his help and one of them was handed the ticket. So my first task was to locate them once I enter the compartment. All I knew was his first name. Anyway, so the train romped its way to Dadar station. I was in no hurry to get inside assuming since I had a confirm ticket, there was no way some one else could occupy my seat. I was proved wrong later. Even before the train could halt, the riotous mob was already inside. I some how managed to save my bag and made my way inside through a herd of wise men, large suitcases, crying children and seething ladies already occupying their places. I was up for another surprise… and frustration.
Although I managed to find my accomplices, there were 15 other people trying to occupy the cabin that could only hold 6 of them. Sweating profusely and grinning sarcastically, I pushed, shoved, chided and planted my bum on the whatever available space I could occupy. Beating Mumbai humidity in an extremely crowded train, that too when you have every right to occupy your seat is very difficult. I at least had a right to ask for my place. But imagine my situation if I had been traveling on a second class waiting ticket.
My anger subsided pretty quickly though, I was awed by the comfort and cheerfulness of people around me. They were ecstatic, warm and surprisingly at ease. With hot cups of tea, the communication broke out and the group started discussing Abhinav Bindra, Indian Cricket team, Nuclear deal, Nagpur, Manmohan Singh, IT industry, jobs etc. One of the families also offered us some food to eat. They had a small daughter who was very naughty. She made sure no body slept till midnight. And when I got a chance, I slept on half of the berth with remaining half occupied by the luggage. My generous mates shared a berth and gave the other one to a lady and her son. They were traveling on a waiting ticket.
I could hardly realise when it was dawn already. I reached Nagpur with happy memories. I called up my wife to tell he I was safe and sound and at home. She said, “Honey the train must have been very crowded. How did you manage?” How do I tell her, Second Class waiting was indeed fun.