Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Case of Mistaken Train Identity

It was 9:45 of cold January night when I bid adieu to my family member and left with my brother to Auto Stand. While we were moving to the auto stand my mobile started buzzing. An unknown STD code with followed by number appeared on my handset. As usual I answered the call in polite manner. On line I could recognize my cousin’s voice. She was calling from Sirsi. Her voice was full of emotions. I could make out from her voice that something has gone wrong and she in need of help. She told me that she immediately needs to charge her cell phone. As usual I could not say no to her and asked her to wait till I reach station. My brother dropped me to Auto Stand from where I took an Auto to reach Railway Station. The wind was blowing smoothly and the there were few vehicle running on the road. My grey matter was bit working on getting my cousin’s telephone charged who had just called and asked for help urgently.

The auto driver was a mid age guy who was driving at quite reasonable speed. I looked at my clock which was 7 years old and was serving continuously from that time. The hour hand was at 10. So I guessed by 10:12 I should reach railway station. For few moments I thought about the road which was improved recently by corporation. The auto took sharp turn at BSNL office near Station and I became aware that in a moment or two I will be able to see the station. I asked auto driver to stop the auto near a medical shop. The medical shop was about to close. One of the shutters which were painted with Hutch Logo was gleaming. It was the logo which attracted my attention and I suddenly remembered about my cousin’s mobile recharge. After handing the driver the fair and I entered the shop. The shop keeper attention moved from his calculator to my face. A sudden feeling that someone is staring at me incubated. I moved back and could see a girl in her teen staring at me. She was dressed in white top and blue jeans. She was bit over weight for her age and height. I handed over the shop keeper 100 rupee and asked him to e-recharge. He did the same. I called my cousin and asked her to confirm if her mobile currency has been charged. She responded that she will call me back once she receives sms. After disconnecting the telephone and was about to leave the shop my mobile phone started ringing. My father’s name appeared on the lcd of my mobile. The call lasted for 1.31 minutes in which my father asked to inform home that he will not able to chat today with my Mom. I decided to call my mother and tell her the same but then thought against it as I would do the same when I will reach on platform.

I reached the platform no 2 which where I could notice lots of people, most of them in their mid 20’s. I checked my ticket and located the place where my boogie would arrive. Few of my E&C juniors spoke to me. Immediately it occurred to me that I should inform my mother regarding the call (my father’s). I called home and spoke to my mother. Her tone again brought tears in my eyes but I managed to stop them immediately. The train arrived and but my boogie was still far from the expected place. My legs started moving towards S4. There were other people who were moving and hence my speed was low. While moving toward the target I could see a figure in front of me. The pony tail looked familiar to me. Yes it was, in front of me, my ex classmate Pavitra was walking briskly. My tongue took a twist and my vocal cord move to put sound “Hi Pavitra”. She too greeted me with sweet smile. Pavitra was one of classmate and was Class representative in 2nd year of engineering. We had quite a lot difference of opinion but we both had put it back one year ago when we had met in Mysore. I asked her boogie number and she replied S5.

I entered the train and located the 38 berth. To my dismay someone had kept his luggage on it. My mind was racing toward throwing the luggage down and sleeping on it but heart was against the same. Heart won the game and I kept my luggage just beside the one which was kept and started reading the novel. After 15minutes a person who was looking like illiterate was standing below my berth. I asked him whether the luggage was his, his answer was positive. I asked him to remove the luggage and told him that this seat is mine. On this he told me that he too has a ticket. My mind thought that this person may not have a valid reserved ticket so I asked him to show me his ticket. He showed me ticket which was like a Mumbai suburban ticket or unreserved ticket. I informed him that this is unreserved ticket and this boogie is reserved boogie so take your baggage and move out of here. My word made big impact to him and the other who were there. The other person asked me for my ticket and verified it. He said this person has booked the ticket on 12th while you have booked the ticket on 13th of January. So his is valid one.

I moved outside the train to check my name on the list but there was nothing on it but I could locate the Ticket Checker who was getting in. The moment the ticket checker got in I asked him to vacate my berth which is occupied by someone else. The Ticket Checker gave me weird look and started checking the ticket of berth no 1 onward. This made me angry on the ticket checker and was about blast but my inner consciousness told me not to do so. Finally the ticket checker became aware of my thoughts and asked me to take me to my berth. I showed him the ticket and moved up (on my berth). The ticket checker checked my ticket and asked the person to show his. Then he showed his suburban kind of ticket to him. The ticket checker checked his ticket. I said to Ticket Checker that this is General compartment ticket. On this TC informed me that in Suburban place people issue this kind of ticket. This is one is reserved one but you have computer ticket so yours is valid one. He asked the guy to move from the place to which the guy refused. The ticket checker who had become aware of the fact that the person is well built and many are backing him asked him to leave by the time he checks S4 boogie otherwise he would ask police personal to take course of action. I was happy and gave the person a smirk. About five minutes may have passed when ticket checker came back and asked me to show my ticket once again. Then he pointed out something which took me by surprise. The train which I had boarded was wrong one!!

It took me some time regain my composure and then ask for sorry to the TC and others. They were kind and said “No problems, it happens”. My thoughts came to immediate problem and they shot a question what to do next? One thing was to travel in the same train in General Boogie which was out of question for my physique and upbringing the other was to get down and go back home from the nearest station. The second thing was better as it would make everyone at home except my dad happy. My thoughts were interrupted by the TC who asked me to get down at Haveri station and board my train which will reach Haveri fifteen minute after this train reaches. He also informed me that it would take 45 minutes from now to reach Haveri.

I moved myself and luggage near the exit. I could smell stink from the Bathroom. To divert my attention and to cool down my head I removed my novel from my bag. After reading for a while I was interrupted by police officer who asked whether you boarded the wrong train to which my answer was Big YES (as our VDK sir use to put it). I saw the seat berth number 7 was empty and moved there. I was glancing out to make sure I get down at right time at right station. There was a girl in front of me who was in her sleeping position. She was wearing blue jeans and Blue jacket. Her eyes were on magazine which she was reading. I thought for a moment whether the girl is Pavitra? Then I answered that she is in S5 and this coach is S4 so I she must be someone else. I could see one lady’s hand which had a gold ring in her finger and bangle. The hand was projecting outside the berth. The lady was sleeping on berth number 6th. Suddenly I could see one hand rising upward from berth number 5 toward the hand of lady. Then suddenly the hand from berth number 5th gave a jerk to lady hand. The lady acknowledged and took her hand inside the bed sheet. The berth number 5th was occupied by relative of berth number 6th I suppose daughter.

It was 11:55 when someone came and asked when we will reach next station to which I answered “I don’t know”. The girl who was reading her magazine jerked and faced me. She was Pavi as one of her close friend use to call her. I informed her in brief the whole story and was now sitting on her berth. I asked her about her regarding coach number 5 on this she informed me that her was in Waiting list or RAC ticket and one of her friend’s father who was in Railway has made an arrangement for her. I knew who was the friend? Before I could give acceleration to my vocal cord Pavi told the name. For a moment or two my mind wandered back to my engineering day and then was back. We started speaking about things and laughing to which the girl of berth number 5th took objection. We both moved to the place where I previously standing. I told Pavitra about my luck and she was in good mood to listen. Our conversation was about our living place in Bangalore, our project and previous travel experience. Behind my mind I was thinking about myself as Absent Minded Researcher who could not board the right train. Pavitra was feeling sleepy but was refraining to do so just to make things easy for me. I was well aware of the fact but she denying the same. I informed Pavitra that I am afraid that I may lose my berth in Bangalore Express as the TC would allot my berth to someone else because I didn’t turn up. She responded with a broad smile and asked me to contact TC of this train and take berth here. It was impossible because there were lots of ticket which were running in Waiting list. So my chance was slim. So I decided to get down at Haveri and take usual course which I had planned couple of minutes back. Finally the train halted at railway station and I got down. I bid adieu my companion at a distress moment of time and started moving toward the railway enquiry office. I asked the railway staff regarding Bangalore Express and they said it is expected to arrive in another 15 minutes on platform number 2. My brain which is very good at approximation quickly calculated that it would take me 5 minutes to move platform number 2 from 1 and then 10 minutes I can talk to my brother and inform regarding the developments.

When I moved to platform number 2 I was feeling hungry and sleepy. I spoke to my brother and felt little bit comfortable. In 8 minutes the train arrived and I boarded the boogie number 6. I moved to coach S4 and kept my luggage on berth numer 38. I went to TC and informed the matter. He asked me to be there on my berth. The TC arrived at 1:45 a.m and check my ticket. I went into my dreams and woke up to see the train was in Yesvantpur. Rest of journey was normal.