“QUIRKY EXPERIENCES IN INDIAN TRAIN TRAVELS”
On a sunny afternoon of peak summer in Hyderabad, sweat rolls down my eyes, as I tug along my heavy luggage trying to find my way to the train. However since the train has not arrived and announcement is yet to be made, the first thoughts on my mind are where will my train come. I wanted to take a breather once I get to the platform so that I can swipe the sweat off my face. I had begun to lose my cool in the heat.
My first instinct was to approach the nearest porter wearing a red shirt. Usually they are the reliable ones to guide you correctly. This guy seeing me surmised that I was going to ask him a typical question. He thought I was going to use his services, but my question put him off completely, enough to guide me on a random direction, which left me puzzled.
Arriving at Secunderabad station, the first thing that strikes me is the confusion all around. It is crowded and no one is willing to talk. I needed to take the train out of Secunderabad, and the indicator showed the train will arrive on platform 1 but the wait gets longer than usual.
Also read: Berth Pangs In The Coach #BlogchatterA2Z
Left without a choice I then walked up to a couple of people who were cooling their heels waiting for their trains to come. One gave me a suggestion that I stand on the over bridge and wait for the announcement, while the other said that I better wait at the lounge. I decided to stay put for the announcement.
It had become accepted by almost everyone at that point in time, that the train was to arrive on platform 1 and people more or less settled to finding the spot from where they would board their respective coaches. Then came the announcement that was much awaited. The din made it inaudible.
I had to listen to it closely for a few more times in multiple languages before I could make out the change in platform. The crowd moved helter-skelter and confusion prevailed once again. I had a heavy luggage to be pulled along, and the escalator wasn’t functioning. So I go from platform 1 to platform 4. Stimuli, response, no choice situation. Getting down from the staircase, I went briskly towards the rear end of the train, as my coach was aligned accordingly, in the online chart.
The time to board the train was limited and I had to walk past 12 or 13 sleeper class coaches, 2 or 3 third AC coaches, to get to mine. A long walk of this nature if done at brisk pace, would take easily 10 minutes or more. I was short of breath by the time I reached, my boarding spot. I was trying to cool down, gulping water. The train had still not arrived at the platform, and I thought I was lucky.
Also read: Civic sense is common sense #BlogchatterA2Z
But what happened next stunned me completely. The railways indicator suddenly came alive and indicated that the alignment of the coaches had changed and I came to know that mine had shifted from the rear to the front. Now this was a near breakdown situation and resulted in utter confusion all across the platform, for not only was I affected, many more too. Still the train was yet to arrive and this gave hope to me just like many others. I trudged to the new alignment and waited for the train to come.
This wasn’t the end of travails for me on that day. Just as the train arrived at the platform, the railways made announcement of coach position. Guess what, the coach position was according to the original alignment, while the indicators still showed the realigned coach positions. Now this was the last straw on the camel’s back. There was yelling all around with the TTE trying to pacify the passengers. Fortunately I had the time to get into my coach and the journey continued.
So watch out for the last minute announcements the railways make. It could be voice or digital, but it could potentially throw you off your track. I will cover the unpredictability of arrivals and departures in a different post, towards the end of this series.
Until then here’s signing off for the day. Please come back for more tomorrow.
The quirky experiences on an indian train travel continues….