Indian railway tracks and myriads of roads connecting the
corners to the neighborhoods holds millions of stories. In my life like may, I
had many memories scattered on these paths; and in turn I have treasured many
an event that I have experienced. These are some of those, a collection of
facts, as all what’s there in my abode!
This was in the early nineties, when I was a sales and
support executive for a leading IT company, making frequent and long tours all
over eastern India. To repair the UPS systems installed in many BPCL depots I
used to frequent cities in middle of nowhere. This was a trip when first I went
to Malda, a town middle part of west Bengal and famous for its Mangoes. The
morning I was supposed to finish my work, I got a message from office that I
need to go to Barauni from there – a town in North Bihar, supposedly close and
accessible from Malda. I finished my work at Malda within 10 in the morning and
came back to hotel, enquired to find that there is a “Fast Passenger” at 1 PM.
Asked them to keep a bills ready and wake me up if I fall asleep. As feared I
was not awakened in time and I had to rush to station in a cycle rickshaw. I
took a ticket and rushed towards the platform, asked the ticket checker at the
gate about the train. He pointed towards platform No. 3 and there was it –
“Adina Fast Passenger” already started moving, leaving platform no. 3.
I rushed through the over-bridge with my rucksack on my back
and the brief case in hand, climbed down the stairs and still had enough time
to select a relatively empty compartment to board the “Fast Passenger”. It was supposed to be a six hour journey. I
looked around the sparsely populated compartment to only see a few locals and
Couple of hours into the journey and I was enjoying one of
the most amazing route on single line track, winding its way though farms,
gardens, villages and at times it seemed we passed though someone’s backyard.
Soon the train came to a halt, the scene outside gave the impression of a mid
sized village, with fences touching the train and windows of mud houses at
handshaking distance from the window of the train. The train stopped and didn’t
move for at least an hour. Peeking out from the window, I saw a big commotion
in front of the train and all passengers slowly getting down and walking
towards the front. It seemed almost the entire village was already there. I too
got down and walked towards the scene. Soon I found the reason of the stoppage.
The train has killed a goat of a villager, and he has squatted on the tracks
with other villagers supporting him. He wants a compensation from the driver or
the guard, and demanded if required let the Railway minister come and solve his
I came back, and the train started moving after another hour
or so. I guess the Panch of the village must had convened and found a solution.
The train was already 3 hours late. The evening fell and woke up from a doze to
discover there was no light in my compartment. In the pitch darkness of the
compartment and matching black outside I waited till the next station. The plan
was to get down and change the compartment. After waiting for about half an
hour the train chugged in to a station. I got down, stood in the darkness of
the platform, watched the train from end to end, to find that it was a train
without a single light barring the headlight, which was just enough for the
driver to see the track far enough to drive.
I came back to the same compartment and sat through the
journey clutching my two luggages. Was sure that there was not a soul in the
compartment. Even if there was some, they must have got blacked out by the
darkness. The train reached Barauni at 11:15. The tea stall owner informed that
it will be futile to go out and look for a hotel at this time. I enquired abut
the retiring rooms, The second class waiting room was just a shade better than
a stable, and the upper class retiring rooms were locked, with the in-charge
not to be found anywhere. I didn’t had any upper class ticket either, so talking
to the station master was not feasible. So I asked the tea stall owner to
inform the retiring room in-charge, if he is found and helped myself with the
newspapers I always carried. After nearly an hours sleep on the paper spread on
the platform with the hordes of mosquitoes, a guy waked me up. He was the
in-charge; he took 30 bucks for the first class retiring room; it went to his
own pocket obviously. It was a 20 by 20 room, with two single beds, with
mosquito nets and a toilet clean enough to be used. He even helped me with a
dinner against 20 more rupees – dal, chapatti and mooli.
And that’s how I mostly used to reach Barauni, a “Rocket”
bus to malda, and “Adina Fast Passenger” to Barauni, with the night at upper
class retiring room.