The Night That Became A Nightmare!

India has changed a lot in the last 10 years -- our social structures, professional life (including pay checks!), recreational activities, food, clothes, technology, everything almost! Yet, one thing remains unchanged, and that is our dear old Indian Railways!

I remember when I was a kid, and we used to come over to Patna during our school vacations, the trains were often late in those days too. And since we didn't have the facility to check the train running status on the internet back then, we usually had to just "wait it out" on the platform! Oh yeah, their telephone enquiry number was there, but it used to be so busy usually that people could hardly ever get through!

On the station, the loudspeakers of the Indian Railway department would announce about the expected delay - "Kanpur se Patna jaane waali gadi no. so-&-so apne nirdharit samay se 15 minute late chal rahi hai." Half an hour later, there would still be no sign of the train, and another static voice would suddenly break out - "Kanpur se Patna jaane waali gadi no. so-&-so kuch der aur vilambit ho gayi hai, aur ab XYZ time pe platform number so-&-so par aayegi." And in this manner, they would keep making these announcements every 30-45 minutes, and finally the train would arrive 6 hours after its scheduled arrival time!

In this regard, Indian Railways haven't changed at all in the last decade. Though I fail to understand why they would need to announce the delay in such "installments" even at the station where that train originates from!

The train Dad took yesterday, to Delhi, starts from Patna. The previous day's train, from Delhi, apparently came late, and was sent to the yard for cleaning etc. Now obviously they ought to have a fairly accurate idea of how much time they'll need to prepare that train for its next trip, because they do this every day! So how can they "miscalculate" the time required before the train can make its next journey?

The original delay on the Indian Railway site showed as 9 hours. So we woke up at 1:30 in the middle of the night, Dad got ready, I made tea, and then I don't know what made me do this, but I turned on my computer and decided to check the status of the train again. There really was no need to do this, because the train would have been sitting in the yard all this time, but oh! It showed a further delay of 3 hours! And this latest status had been updated by the department at about quarter to 1 in the night! Of course they couldn't have figured this out by 10-11 pm, as to how much time they'll need to make it ready for the tracks again!

It's almost like I have been cooking "daal" almost daily for the last so many years, and everyday it takes me about 10 minutes, but suddenly one day, the "daal" decides to start "acting up", and I have to delay lunch at the very last minute, because it needs an extra 3 minutes to cook that day! The same "daal" that I've been cooking for years! Amazing!

Well anyways, none of us could go back to sleep after that -- with all that tea inside us! And so the honks of the odd late-comer cars in the neighborhood became shriller, the heavy goods trucks (they frequent our area a lot) became noisier too, and even the street dogs suddenly seemed to be barking louder! Also, let us not forget the restless dreams -- of missing trains and dropping luggage bags etc.!

To cut a long story short - the night became a complete nightmare, thanks to our glorious Indian Railways!

This is my 26th post for NaBloPoMo November 2010.

Link to the previous post: Graveyard Shift!

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ZB said...

Indian Railways holds a very Especial place in my heart too. Being a Fauji kid, we were literally broughtup in trains, and every 2-3 years a different place. The most awaited times were the vacation and usually all the places took 2-3 days of train trip to kerala. Sad, i haven't been in a train for almost 10 years now. sorry 8 years, but we are planning extensive train travel for our next vacation. Miss the chai, snacks, and the beautiful place called India, my motherland.
Loved this post. TC:D

Kaddu said...

Hi ZB! Yes, traveling in our trains used to be fun when I was a kid. My sis & used to take cards, pocket video games, ludo etc, and we used to play in the train. But the trains weren't so crowded back then. And we usually booked in first class, so had our privacy. The food was also waaayyyyyyyyyy better back then... I still remember those rumali rotis, whereas now we get those thick, uncooked, leather-like parathas instead! And the blankets smell of ppl's feet! Even the tea has become disgusting now... but all credit for that goes to Mr. Lalu Yadav!

Rachit said...

Except for some occasional summer holidays tour's I never travel through the train until I joined engg. and left mine hometown for a new strange place Chandigarh. And, in just withing 2.5 years I have traveled more than 40 times through trains. Indian Railways have become a part of mine life now. How can I forget sipping tea at every station in the journey?

Also, Indian Railways have changed a lot as far as punctuality is concerned. Chandigarh-Lucknow express hardly gets delayed and sometimes the train even reach before time.

Kaddu said...

Wow Rachit! Maybe I should move to Chandigarh then! :p

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