It was an interesting journey to say the least.. I had the occasion to travel recently by train from Mumbai to Karwar along the Konkan coast. I was to alight at my destination at an unearthly hour of half past two in the morning . A cluster of stations had arrival times around the same time and consequently there were a lot of people waiting to get down roughly around the same early hours of the morning or late hours of the night ,if you please. The train was running more than an hour late and losing time further adding to the uncertainty.
I , for one kept looking at my watch and could not sleep after midnight and kept peering at poorly lit stations awaiting my destination. The gentleman across my berth ,had fixed alarms on his two cell phones spaced fifteen minutes apart from two am onwards. He managed to sleep through each of the sixteen alarm ringtones and ensured that all around him were awake to keep vigil. Another elderly couple had asked the coach attendant to awaken them fifteen minutes before their expected destination. The wife had a healthy suspicion of the attendant’s abilities to stay up and awaken them. Consequently she would prod her husband and dispatch him every twenty minutes to ascertain if the attendant was awake and remind him of the assigned task. The attendant had every hair standing on his head and I am sure he would have been the happiest person on the train when the couple finally departed.
I must tell you about another elderly gent , who was petrified about missing his station and not being able to get off with his luggage in the scheduled two minute halt. Therefore ,he moved with his baggage soon after midnight to the area adjacent to the toilet. The poor man was in for a rather long and smelly wait-three and a half hours to be precise! And I must tell you about this extremely restless, obviously NRI type youngster. He was really wired in every sense of the word. Armed with his I-Pod, Blackberry and a headphone slung around his neck for good measure, he would keep darting in and out of the compartment and getting down at every station to reconfirm that it was not his destination. Finally , he managed to find himself stranded on the platform with the train speeding away, two stations short of his destination. Kareena Kapur of “Jab We Met” fame would have applauded. A case of so near and yet so far!
Another portly bald haired gentleman, a most laconic character, if there was one- he changed into shorts; put on ear plugs; strapped on an eye patch and dug himself deep into the folds of his blanket. He told me to relax before he sank into slumber-land, “ The train is going to get another two hours late. You can sleep comfortably for five hours !” He got his beauty sleep and alighted fresh as a daisy five hours later as he had predicted. Talk about letting sleeping dogs lie.
Well, most of us did manage to get off at our stations , bleary eyed and battle weary; fighting sleep and the uncertainty in our own unique ways. The journey, was an “eye opener”, in a manner of speaking, about the trials and tribulations of time travel !