First of all let me thank my very dear friend, classmate, above all my roommate Mr. Yoosaf Ali for waking me up this morning; because without him calling me up I would neither be going for this interview nor I may write this piece.
I didn’t know what happened to the alarm which I set for 05:30am. Did I slept unknowingly or didn’t it ring at all? Whatever it may be, thank God I woke up by my friend’s single call. And the interesting side of it was, that every day I used to get him up in the morning, but today by fate he paid it back. Anyway thank you man for not giving a chance for our placement head and center head to fire me up once again.
I was kind of shocked when I opened my eyes and looked at the time. It was 06:27am. The time very close the time which I thought I would reach at railway station. So to reach early as possible, I had to skip some of my daily routines, even though I managed to have time for my early morning namaaz (prayer) and also to change my dress. I had to rush out of the room with my bag which was all set and packed up last night. On reaching the main road, I got into an auto and reached the station at 06:47am. Wow! Only twenty minutes turnaround time. I was happy like an athlete who finished his leap with his record time. But instead of giving Rs6/- for bus I had to pay Rs50/- to the autowala who played a crucial role in getting me there on time. I straight away went to the ticket counter and asked for a sleeper ticket to Chennai for 07:05’s Aleppy-Dhanbad express. I got a general ticket for Rs170/- and asked me to upgrade by seeing a TTE. When I looked on to the ticket, it showed 702kms from Ernakulam Jn. to Chennai Central; and the arrival time 22:15hrs. Oopz.. 14 hrs journey and no one to accompany with.
Before boarding the train I got time have 3 vada’s with chutney as my breakfast; I also bought a bottle of ‘rail neer’ and ‘The Hindu’. The train arrived 10 minutes late, I got in to the ‘S2’ reserved sleeper compartment and sat in a single window seat. As the train started moving, I went into the latrine to brush my teeth. I even thought of having a bath. But the pathetic condition of Indian railway latrines stopped me of that thought. So I had to adjust with few drops of water and my hair cream. In the initial hours I spend my time by reading ‘The Hindu’(of course the sports page 1st) and scrolling in facebook.(the best way to kill time). I also updated “ALONE… to Chennai” status in fb. I couldn’t scroll much in fb because I was worried about my phone’s battery life.
When the train diverted from Shoranur to Palakkad to cross the Valayar border, then itself I could see and sense the scenes in and out for the next hours of my lonely journey. I was staring at the mountains and the vast plain lands which was not at all a greenish one like when we travel across our ‘God’s Own Country’. In between a TTE came and examined my ticket and asked me to “sit here itself, the Madras TTE will do the upgradation for you. After that I ordered for the budget conscious veg-meals for lunch which was prepared from trains pantry car. It consisted of a bowl of rice, 2 chappathi’s and 3 bowl of curries very little in each, a small packet of achar and a packed glass of water.
After lunch I thought to have a nap and when I was lying down, a Tamilian family who got into the train from next station disturbed me from my nap by saying “thambee konjam adjust pannidu”. So I had to adjust them beside me giving up my sweet nap. Asking for adjustments is not a new thing when you travel in Indian railways. Even though it’s a single seat people want us to adjust to keep a part of their butt. One could rarely travel comfortably in Indian railways. The cockroaches coming out of the seat, polluted compartments, pathetic latrines are the usual things. And the very annoying thing was the ‘pass through’ of some hijadas who exposed theirselves and asked for money. One could know they are on their way even from a distance; because they make the ‘tta tta’ sound by clapping their hands in a special way, which they used as their trademark signal to make us know ‘get set ready to give some bucks’. It was like bwaaa when looking at their face. Then the local Tamilaian ladies who sold banana, guava, sliced cucumber and pineapples, cashew nuts and suppotta’s were another time pass scenes in the compartments. I bought a cover of fresh suppotta’s and had it on the go. It was really fresh, sweet and tasty and the only thing worthed for a ten rupee.
The bore of travelling alone caught my mind again. I even looked out for any beautiful girls around to stare at, just to pass the time; unfortunately there was not even a single girl in that compartment. All were some old Tamilians who went on talking some kachda pichda tough Tamil which was not easy to understand. When the evening sun was out to shine brightly on to my face, I was again thinking what to do to get rid of this boring journey. And there came the idea of jotting down this journey experience. Time just went like anything and “its 09:45 now. Out I can see the ‘CHENNAI CENTRAL’ in block letters. Yes I have to get down here. Bye.”