Roads and Trains

I love traveling. I enjoy the packing; the inevitable forgetting of some essential items; the preparation; setting things at home to ensure everyone has what they need when I am away; the temporariness of the journey; the extra berth it allows when you spend on something to eat or drink or a little comfort for the journey; and, the unpredictability of it all. Especially if you are traveling by some kind of public transport. How much ever one plans, no journey goes according to plan.

For some people, it sways a bit more.

Seriously, if you rate people on a scale of 1 to 10, in terms of things going awry while traveling, with 10 being the  worst, I will be a 8 (or if you ask my husband, a 9!) I reserve 10 for some special people I know who have much more interesting stories to tell.

Like today. Today was less than a 8.

I was ready. I packed every thing. Everything. (On hindsight, may be that is what jinxed it. Note to self: please leave the toothbrush at home). For the first time in my 10 years in Bangalore, the Byappanahalli junction was free and we cruised through it. First time. (I should have known then). 45 minutes later I was a mile away from the train station and with 25 min to go for my train departure time, I was feeling quite good. “For once”, I thought, “I am going to have time to kill”. For once.

That was, until I realised my car was not moving. We were sitting in a stagnant pool of vehicles staring at a red signal that seemed to have forgotten to change colours. I started calling people. I had my Mom on one line and was frantically looking at Google Map for alternatives (what was I expecting? A drone to take me past the standstill traffic?!!).

I contemplated walking. Didn’t seem viable unless I was willing to sacrifice either the suitcase with heavy silk sarees or my laptop. Hmm…I need both this weekend.

May be the train is late. It usually is late, that is, when we reach the train station early. We are not early today and as I expected train was on time. Logic seems to work perfectly for things like this.

“Can’t you switch to an autorickshaw and reach the station?”, my mother on the phone desperately giving me suggestions. Nah. Nothing around me was moving. Except may be my stress levels.

We finally start inching forward and my heart leaps. I still had 5 minutes before the train left. We crossed that spot and as it happens with most Bangalore traffic jams, you never really figure out why traffic was held up. Once we crossed the spot, the roads were empty again. We cruised through, reached the station, I darted out with my luggage and ran in, and there it was – the last coach disappearing around the bend, far away on the railway tracks.

An Indian train traveler is not the one to easily give up. Our brains are always working to somehow make it to that ubiquitous train, often the only comfortable and affordable to travel mode across the expanse of this country. We just don’t seem to have enough of them.

So as I stand on the railway platform with my luggage around, suggestions come flying in. “May be you can drive to the next station fast enough to board the train there”.  “The next train goes half the way; you can take a bus rest of the way”. “Take an overnight bus instead”. “Travel tomorrow night, you will only miss a day”.

I swallow my disappointment. And look at yet another option. Going back home to my bed. I am not feeling too adventurous tonight.

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