Howrah to Chennai

2002-03

by Milan Chatterjee

Dear friends,

This is the detailed trip report I have made to Chennai and Bangalore during the month of March in the year 2002.My original plan was to find a suitable school for my sister in and around Chennai and Bangalore and in the process explore some of the unexplored parts of IR by me. So I had originally decided to go to Chennai via Patna and Konkan Railway.

After consulting the TT's I charted out the following route. Howrah to Patna by the Sealdah Ajmer Ananya Exp. From Patna I will take a bus to Rajendranagar. A few weeks prior to my journey all the trains terminating/originating from Patna had been moved to Rajendranagar except the Patna Rajdhani. From Rajendranagar I decided to take the LTT Patna SF Exp. From LTT to MCSD bus/taxi/train. I also decided to explore a bit of Mumbai, so I had scheduled up an appointment with Mr Nitin Master informing him about my approx date of arrival. From MCST to Goa by the Matsyagandha Exp or the Hapa Ernakulam Exp from Panvel till Kankanadi. From Kankanadi to Chennai by the Mangalore mail or the west Coast Exp. If my mission is successful in Chennai itself then I will visit Bangalore by the Lalbagh/Brindavan/Bangalore Exp. From there I will take the Gouhati bound train for returning to Calcutta.

 After charting out my route I fell into indecision as weather to take the above mentioned route or take the other way round.After a few days of pondering I decided that I will take the other way round. I will complete the school business and then take the round trip on my return journey. So I mailed SK and Srinivas about my approz date of arrival. I then decided that since I have 9 days time for the school business to be finished I decided that I will take a passenger train to Chennai.

Since there is no direct passenger to Chennai I decided the following break points:

  • Howrah Kharagpur = EMU
  • Kharagpore Ctc = DMU.
  • Ctc K Road = Sambalpur Puri Pass
  • K Road Behrampur 1 Shuttle
  • Berhampur Vizianagram. Berhampur Rayagada Pass
  • Vizianagram Vskp= Rourkella Vskp Pass.
  • Vskp Raja = 1 Raja Pass.
  • Raja BZA 3 Raja Pass (Via Gudivada Bhinvaram).
  • BZA Chennai Baad me dekha Jaaiga. Though it was the original plan in actual practice it was a bit different.

After packing up my things and informing SK over E Mail about my impending trip I went out of my house by 12:30 and took a bus for Howrah station. My luggage consisted of 3 pants, a diary, some cash and a bit and pieces of essentials items. After reaching Howrah station I decided to book my ticket till Chennai. The lady at the counter thought me mad. After giving me a angled eyed look she issued me the ticket.

After that I went to the cafeteria and had a burger and a cup of coffee. I bought two magazines ( Outlook and Frontline) and a cup of lemon tea. Then it announced that the Howrah Mednipur Parashuram local will depart from platform 13. The Parashuram is nothing but a SF galloping Hwh Medinipur EMU local.

The platform was already crowded. I went to the platform and saw the Kharagpore Howrah EMU entering the platform which will return as hwh Mednipour galloping. I jumped into the still moving train and managed a non window seat. From that seat to look out of the window you had to lean forward. I choosed that particular seat to prevent the sun and I was planning to take a slight nap. Within a matter of seconds the train was full of passengers and hawkers. There was still 40 minutes left for the train to depart. When the train was introduced in 1997 it used to depart at 1500 hrs. Later it was rescheduled at 15:25 hours and lastly to 15:45 hours.

On the PAS it announced that Corromondal Exp and Geetanjali Exp had just crossed Santragachi and will be arriving on platform 19 and 20. The East Coast Exp has just departed from Paskura and the LTT exp had just arrived at Paskura. The Gurudev Exp has departed from Kgp and the Tvdm Gouhati Exp will be arriving at Howrah by 16:00 hrs. I started concentrating on the magazines I had purchased.

As soon as the time reached 15:45 the guard have a ‘Ting Ting’ and a short hoot on the horn, the driver started the train. It slowly crawled out of the platform. By that time the train was fully crowded with various types of passengers and hawkers. The hawkers were seling various types of their wares. Some were selling ‘Singapuri Kela’ some Australian apples. I have noticed one thing. That is that the hawkers wares are different for every different sections of sub urban sections around Calcutta. For eg :

  • Sealdah Bongao = Tea, Ginger tea, Sweet Meats, ‘Gold Necklaces’, Jhalmuri .
  • Sealdah main = Tea, Raw tea, Sweet Meats, Fried Coconuts Jhalmuri and Coconuts.
  • Sealdah South = Bottled waters(high pressure) , Coffee , JhalMuri .
  • Howrah (ER) = Tea, Lemon Tea, Coffee, JhalMuri, SWEET Meats.

The SER too same as Hwh ER. You will also notice that the jhalmuris are also different on all the sections and no same hawker will be allowed to hawk outside his division. In the ER the hawkers use Garammasalas as a key ingredients but in the SER they use pickles as appetizers.

As we were approaching SRC the train slowed down and the Gurudev Exp crossed us. It had the SRC WAP4 and a nice clean AB rake. After crossing SRC the train picked up speed. One thing I noticed that the diesels are sharing space with the WAP4s in their sheds. After a few minutes the EAST Coast crossed us. It was behind a VSKP Wdm2. After a few minutes the LTT exp too crossed us behind a Bsl WAM4 and immediately the Bankura Shalimar Aranyak exp behind a WAP4 SRC. That day the train had only 4 coaches inclusive of a SLR coach.

After having a cup of tea I dozed off. I do not know how long I had slept, but I suddenly woke up by the sound of a train passing. It was the falauknama Exp, but I could not see the loco of it. That time the train was approaching Kgp station. While we were entering there was an announcement hat the Howrah Trichi Exo is running by it's scheduled time and the Puri NDLS SF Exp is running 2 hrs behind schedule and expected to arrive at Kgp by 18:45 hrs.

I got down from the train and went to a Suger N Spice stall. There I bought a cup of CUP Noodles and started having it after a few minutes. I then went to the booking counter too see the timings of the passengers from Kgp to Bhubaneshwar side. I was shocked to see that there are no trains till 23:10 hours except the Howrah Bhadrak pass. I decided against taking the Bhadrak passenger.

I then decided to tour the entire Kgp platform. There were various goods comeing and goings. A WDS6R loco owned by Bokaro Steel Plant was doing shunting duties . Some far away in the yards some coaches were being painted blue and blue. Then I noticed that a WDM2 of Kgp bringing some freshly painted coaches of the Corromondal Exp. I wondered what the 14 coaches of the Corro doing there and all of them were SL coaches.

After half an hour the Howrah Trichi Exp arrived on platform 1 and immediately after one EMU on platform 1a which is the terminating platform. The SRC WAP4 moved away and the Tiranga coloured VSKP WDM2 moved in to take charge of the train. After 15 minutes the train moved out of the platform. After 1 hr by 1900 hrs the Puri NDLS Exp came in on platform 2 behind a Kgp WDM2 and almost immediately a Kanpoor WAP4 was attached to it's rear section. After 10 minutes that train too moved out. Then it announced that the Dhauli Exp and the Rupasi Bangla Exp are running behind it's scheduled time. All of them arrived by their times and left too. The Dhauli had a WDM2C from Kazipet shed and the Rupasi Exp had a Tata WAM4 shed.

I then sat on a bench and took out the Chicken sandwitch I had brought from home. It announced that the NDLS Puri Purus Uttom exp running by it's scheduled time. After a few minutes the Steel exp came and left behind a Tata WAM4. Then it announced that the Jagannath exp and Chennai Mail were running by it's scheduled time. I was thinking about my plan to leave the Chennai mail and travel that distance by a passenger train. Then I noticed that a shunter pushing a empty rake of the Kharagpore Bhubaneshwar Pass. It was a 14 coach rake and looked brand new. Then I saw a light comeing on platform 4. It was the Kharagpure Hatia passenger behind a electric and diesel loco. The diesel was Bksc WDM2B and the electric which was pulling was a BNDM WAG5. The train was almost empty. I saw that the shunter is placing the rake of my train on platform 3. I saw on the bradshaw that the passenger had only 4 stops skipping Ctc and no stop on the Cuttack bypass line and arriving BBSR next morning by 400 hrs. One thing I noticed , that the Kgp station is very much quite one except during the arriva and departure of trains. Not Kgp alone can be blamed but almost all stations on SER section are quite because there is almost nil settlements around SER section unlike ER section.

I then slowly went to platform 3 and went to the front side of the train, because to hear the diesel sound and the smoke of it. The lights and the fans were still off. The coach was a sitting one and not wooden sitted. After a few minutes a lady with 3 children came and asked me about the destination of the train. I replied that it is the galloping bhubaneshwar. She asked me back weather it will stop at ___ I replied no. After half an hour the Chennai Mail arrived behind a Vskp WDM2C loco. It departed after a brief 3 minute halt and almost immediately the Patna Puri Exp arrived on platform 2 just in line with us. It came behind a Mgsl WAM4 loco. After a few minutes a Kgp WDM2 was attachet to it and 15 mnutes later it departed.

By that time our departure time had already arrived. As the Kalinga Utkal Exp was arriving our loco gave a short hoot and started crawling out of the platform. There were hardly any passengers on our train. My coach had hardly 40 passengers and all of them were preparing for sleep. I guessed that they are all bhubaneshwar passengers. One of them got up and locked all the doors and also pulled down the vestibule shutter. After sometime our train started and slowly crawled out of the platform. As soon it reached Hijli it gave a gust of smoke and started picking up speed.

After a few minutes I started feeling drowsy, picked up by bag used it as a pillow and started to fall sleep. Within 14 minutes the train was running at high speed. The coach was a vacumn braked one previously which was refitted with air brakes. I realized it by the sound of occational breaking. I do not know about the other coaches.

Our first stop is Rupsa, then Balasore. I do not know how long but I soon fell asleep. I was suddenly awaken by some shouting. It was nothing but a shout of a tea hawker at a platform. I sleepily looked outside. We were standing at platform 1 at Balasore. On platform 2 another train was waiting. I tried to look at the number of the train but could not see the number of the train. It could be either Kalinga Utkal Exp overtaking us or the Purus Uttom Exp, but I am not sure. The train was a pretty long one. I bought 1 cup of coffee and pulled down my shutter. There was no increase of passengers in our coach.

As soon as the train pulled out of the platform 2 I saw that the Chennai mail was silently entering platform 3 behind a WDM2c but could not see the loco makings in the almost dark. It covered another train on platform 4. By that time our train started. I tried to sleep but could not. I ten switched on the light just above me and then started reading a Robert Ludlum thriller called ‘Bourne Ultimatum’.

After some non stop running we slowed at stopped at a tiny station. On that station our line is at least 25 meters from the other one and is at slight lower level that the other one and the peculiar thing is that both the platforms are in the western directions of both the lines. On that platform a tiny train was standing behind a WDM2. after some hard trying I made out the train to be Tirupati Howrah Exp but this time too I could not make out the shed of the loco due to almost dark. The only lights of the station were from the marker lamp of the Tpt diesel loco and our coach. The rest of our train too was dark. As Herambh has told me when he came to Calcutta that the entire SER line is electrified barring some stretch from balasore till BBSR. At that station the line was also electrified.

I suddenly realized that our train was moving. It had departed without a horn. The entire night sky was studded with centallion dollars worth of diamonds. I had never seen so many stars in my life from Calcutta even with a 14 inch telescope. I could even see the Milky Way's band of stars too and all the constellations. 2 years back when I went to New delhi by the Howrah Puruliya Exp that time too the sky was not this clear.

After a few minutes later we reached bhadrak station. It was too a deserted station. There another train was standing on the other platform. It was no other than the Up Purushottam exp. It was pulled by a Kgp WDM2 loco but unlike other locos this one was a maroon colored one. There too I bought one cup of coffee. Then I saw that another train was comeing just after the Purushottam had left.It was nothing but 3 WDG pulled BCNA rake. I could not see weather all the 3 were mu'd or running separately. I kept an eye for the traction wires. It was still running. I was wondering weather it would go till JK Road or CTC. But after approx 15 km the wires suddenly vanished leaving only the naked posts standing for another 15 km. then after that nothing. It is total diesel territory.

Our train though is a galloping non stop passenger was not a high speed one, unlike the Mayurakhi Pass whose booked speed is 100kmph. We were hardly crossing 100kmph and only for 10 minutes just after Balasore we ran at approx at 115kmph.

Here I forgot to mention that just after Balasore we crossed the Bramhani bridge. It is over 2 km long. the river had been reduced to a mere 25 meter wide stream and the rest of the stretch is sand with tyre markings criss crossing it. After another nonstop running we reached JK road. Here we were shifted to the lop platform. I guess that we could have an overtake or a fast train crossing us. On the other line a express train behind a whistling loco passed us at full speed. I tried to guess what train could it be, because due to the darkness I could neither see the train number nor the loco and it's shed. One thing I noticed that it had 5 ac coaches in the rear part of the train. I was wondering weathering it would be a pass thru in our case.

Then on the PAS it announced that Patna Puri Exp is arriving on platform 2. I was surprised to realize that that deserted station had a Public Address System. After 10 minutes the train announced. I was shocked to see the condition of the train. It was a Vacumn Baraked rake behnd a Kgp WDM2. I saw that 3 SL coaches were attached at Kgp just after the diesel loco. After 3 minutes the train started. After 5 minutes our train too started and I went back to my Ludlum book.

After 15 minutes I decided that I will keep a look out for the spot from where our train train will divert from the main line. I was wondering weather our train in any case take the bypass line or cross CTC non sto like I had ones seen Falauknama do during it's CTC bypass days. Somebody had told me that the Cape Comorin Exp and the Gowhati Chennai Exp too does the same, but some IRFCA members had said otherwise. So I decided to leave the matter otherwise ad concentrated on what our train will do.

After some fine running our train crossed Nakurseni station from where the rail line from Sambalpur comes and meets the main line. In the total dark I missed out weather we had moved out from the main line or the still on the main line. After some km I saw that the Highway from Sambalpur was traveling beside us on my back. Then after a few km the dn line came and entered us. I then realized that we will be passing thru Cuttack ad if luck favours it will be my first cuttack thru passing. After a hard turn our train climbed n the Mahanadi bridge. The condition of the mahanadi river too is as pathetic as the Bramhani river but this case the water portion is a bit wider than Bramhani bridge. I noticed that the bridge had a passenger gangway only on 1 side of it.

I suddenly noticed a string of light far away. I guess that it could be another bridge. One or two sluice gates of the barrage were open. Just after entering CTC station our train stopped. I leaned out and saw the red blinking light of a train just in front of us. After almost 10 minutes our train started and started crawling extremely slowly. After crawling for some 20 minutes we were moved I to platform 3. on platform 1 was standing the Corromondal Exp behind a Vskp WDM2c, and on platform 2 was a single Vskp Wdm2 loco was standing.

It was already 0440 hours. I had barely slept for 1 hr during the entire journey. At that hour the station was totally quite with a single porter on the platform. I climbed down on the platform to find any tea stall or any tea hawker. The platform 2 and 3 were totally deserted because it was much less used. Then suddenly without a noticed our train gave a jerk and started. I ran to my coach and climbed on. 1 or two passengers had started waking up in my coach, and the Easters sky was slightly glowing. After climbing out of the platform I saw that on our left the line to Paradweep veered off with a goods train moving in. it could be the same goods which held us.

After 400 meters out of Ctc the line became single again because there is another single line bridge. This one is not a long one unlike the other ones. It is hardly 1 km or slight more/less in length. Then after traveling for some time I noticed that te overhead cantenery posts had again started but without the wires. I at this moment was standine on the right door because there is a sharp curve towards towards the right. Then to me delight our train banked slightly towards right and tuned right. It was a sight to be seen. You could not see the coaches but only the tiny lights coming out of the other coaches.

After a few minutes our train straightened and then I immediately went to the left side because there is another left curve meeting the Ctc bypass line at Barang. This time I noticed that our line is now fully electrified. Then true to my words our train turned left into a sharp curve. Just before Barang we met the bypass line and again turned left to complete the curve. We again straightened up to cross a river and again turned left to complete the final leg of our curve. By that time the dawn was comeing over the horizon and most of the stars had vanished except Mars and Jupiter and the polestar. That time our train was running at high speed. Almost all the passengers of our coach had awakened.

Then as we entered bhubaneshwar town our train suddenly stopped at Lingaraj Temple Road station. The next station is bhubaneshwar. As we were waiting a goods crossed us behind 2 WDG locos. I could not see the shed as I was not prepared to receive the train. It was a long rake of empty depressed flats. I asked a co passenger the timings of the next train to Berhampur. He replied that there is a connecting train to this one and the next train is to Palasa at 1400hrs and the next Berhampur DMU is at at 16:00 hrs. I decided that I will take the Palasa passenger because I am very much tired for a whole night awakeing.

After almost 25 minutes our train started and we were homed in on platform 1. On platform 4 was standing the Puri Ctc passenger behind a extremey dirty Raipur WDM2. I went out of the platform and had another cup of tea. I asked the tea vendor about the whereabouts of a cheap hotel just to spend my time till afternoon. As I was asking him I noticed that just across the road there is a descent looking hotel . I went there. The changes were written on a blackboard behind the manager.The charges were nominal.

After enquring about the charges of my room I went up behind a porter. My room was on the thirdfloor. It was a descent room with a attached bath but very low pressure water. The waiter told me that he will be bringing a drum of water because there is premium of water after the Super Cyclone. I saw that since I will be staying only for a few hours there is no point in being fussy over it. After a few minutes he gave the menu card and some paper napkins. Then a few minutes later a somewhat clean towels.

While opening the window I noticed that there is a Cyber café a few seconds walking distance. I then went to the bathroom and took a nice bath. Then I ordered breakfast which comprised of a pot of tea, a triple egged omlett a pair of breads with butter and jam any my home brought cheese. After finishing off my breakfast, I locked off my room and went to the cybercafe. From there I emailed SK and I wrote down his address, phone number and the address of a hotel he had mailed me. Then after checking some mails from IRFCA and noted Sujeet's disapproval of my using the name of "Pervez Mussaraf" and "Osama Bin Laden" in my mail name .

Then I went to the platform to see in details the timings of the passenger timings. There on platform 3 the Sambalpur Puri passenger had just arrived behind a Raipur WDM2 and the Puri Okha Exp behind a Kgp WDM2. Also a WAG5H from Vijayawada shed was standing on platform 1.I guess that it was there for the Okhan Exp. The entire Okha Exp was a VB one and had a FC coach. I guess that it was one of the few trains which still had FC coaches that time and it did not have any AC coches.

After serching for a few minutes I found out the timings of the trains just above the ticket counter. The timings were haphazardly arranged and not serially. I found the train I was looking for. I decided to take the evening DMU for Behrampur. I asked a tea vendor about the expected time of arrival for the train at Behrampur. He replied that it will take 3 hrs 25 minutes for the pass to reach there. I then asked him if there is any connecting train from there. He said that, that same train goes as a Pass to Naupada. After completing my enquiry and devouring 4 cups of tea and coffees, I went back to the C café .

As I was leaving the platform , I heard on the PAS that Dhauli Exp had just departed from Bhadrak and is running by it's scheduled time. I had also checked out that, that day there is no rajdhani to/from BBSR. It also announced that the Rourkella Puri Exp has just departed from Denkhanal. I understood that it was the Tapaswini Exp. By that time true to my guessing the WAG5 had attached itself to the Okha Exp. In the CCafe I chatted for about 3 hours and also replied some IRFCA mails and checked another mail from SK and Srinivas.

After noteing down the points and the address of another school from John Mani I went to my hotel. There I tried completed the rest of my Ludlum book and ordered lunch. The lunch consisted of a plate of rice, Channa dal, Chicken Curry, Sour Curd, mixed pickle and a bottle of Pepsi. After finishing them off I went to the bed and started reading the Outlook magazine and the article on it about the Gujarat Carnage. There was also a tiny article on it about the relief , in the aftermath of the Orissa Super Cyclone.

After a few minutes, the outside sky grew dark. I went to the window and saw that huge masses of clouds were running around the sky, thus blocking out the sun light.After a few minutes , I heard the sounds of thunder and saw a lightning streak across the sky. The peoples were running helter skelter. From my room window, I shouted to them…" You fools…Go to the cyclone center otherwise you will be blown up by the wind and the rain of it".

Then to my horrid, I saw a peculiar cloud formation in the distance which I immediately understood to be the formation of a Tornedo of level4. My fears suddenly became true, as a dark tail slowly emerged from the cloud mass. It seemed dancing and it seemed to be find a suitable place to land on the ground. After touching the ground it started to wreck havoc and I saw that peoples and lot of debris were circulating around the funnel. As soon as it started coming towards to hotel I took out my cyclone speed measuring device and ran out of it.

The computers from the cafe were blown out of it. I started running towards the station but could not see in the dark and the dust. Then suddenly the funnel surged towards me. I started running with all my speed i could master towards the station to try to hide under the diesel loco of the dhauli exp,because i understood that the funnel could not lift the 200 tn diesel loco.but the funnel making a monsterous sound slowly started catching up with me.I went thruu the passenger waiting room and saw the loco on platform 1. As i made the final dash towards the loco, the funnel sucked me in along with the loco.As i tried to get hold of something, something hit my head and everything dark, and then only I came back to my sences.

I found myself lying on the floor and my leg was tangled with the bedsheet, and i found myself stareing a screenshot of the movie called "Revenge Of The Twister" a hollywood blockbuster i had seen 5 days before my trip. i had banged my forehead on the floor. I slowly got up and saw that i had already missed the evening passenger.I then went down and asked the manager for the timings of the passengers.

manager : Where do you want to go?

Myself : Visakapatnam.

Manager : you could take the Falauknama Exp which will be arriving within 20 minutes.

Myself : Falauknama!!!....Now?

Manager : yaah.it is running 2 hrs behind schedule.It will take you to VSKP in 4 hours.

Myself : Still....what about passengers?

Manager : well....there is one passenger at 4:55 inthe morning,but you will have to get down at Vizzianagram.

Myself :Why?

Manager : Because that will be going to Titlagarh via VZA.

Myself : what time does it departs?

Manager : 4:55 in the morning.

I then went to the "Lobby" of the hotel and switched on the TV there.After hereing the news on star TV i switched channels to Discovery where they were showing an article on the Stealth US B52 Fighters" on {Science Frontiers} section.After watching itfor some time, i called the 3rd floor's room boy and told him that if he could wake me up by 4:00 tomorrow morning i will give him a big bakshis.He readily agreed to do it.

I then went to the Cyber cafe again and was dismayed to find that there were only 5 more mails in IRFCA since afternoon.I surfed the net for 3 hours and went to the station.The station was quite except some ocational sounds.

After a few minutes it announced that the Howrah bound Cape Comorin Exp is comeing on platform 1.All the puriwallas fired up their keroscene stoves and started frying their puris.The tea vendors took their positions .After it announced that the Corromondal Exp is comeing on platform 4.Then the Cape exp arrived behind a WDM2 of Vskp shed and after 15 minutes the Corromondal Exp arrived behind a vskp WDM2C.It announced that the East Coast had just departed JK road station and is running 25 minutes behind schedule and the New Delhi Puri Neelachal Exp is arriving on platform4.By that time the Corromondal had departed.After a few minutes later the Neelachal Exp came behind a Bksc WDM2C and a dead Kgp WDM2 loco and it too departed after 5 minutes.Again it announced that the Howrah boundPuri Exp will be arriving shortly on platform 2 because the Cape Comorin Exp is still standing .After 10 minutes the Jagannath Exp came behind a Kgp WDM2.As the Jagannath Exp was arriving the Cape Comorin Exp departed.

After 1 hr i went to the hotel.It was already 2230hrs.I rang the bell and ordered dinner.It was an entirely Moughlai affair which consisted of Half Chicken tanduri butter masala,butter keema naam,1plate mixed salad,5 rasgoollas and 1 Coke.After finishing off my dinner, i packed my things and told the waiter tobring up my bill from the manager. The entire cost was Rs 380 inclusive of the foods.It was quite cheap. Then after the waiter had brought me the change, he grinned towards me tootheely.His teeth were soiled red by the beetle leaves.I gave him a Rs 20 note.

Waiter : Please give some more.

Myself : Why?

Waiter stared at me without saying anything.

Myself : The Rs 20 you got is more than you deserve.I have to buzz the bell continiously four your attention and after buzzing for 5 times i get your kind attention.

Waiter : If you reach people treat us poors like that,where we will go?

Myself : You do not have to go anywhere else.Just pay attention to your job.Then you will get more "Bakshish".Now please go.

The waiter left after murmurring something to himself,probably cursing me and my anscestors.Then i called the room boy and again reminded him of his job next day. I thought that it will be a mistake to entirely depend on the waiters.So i better leave the lights on and go to sleep. After a few minuts, i fell asleep but luckily i did not have any gut wrenching dreams like i had in the afternoon nap.

When i woke up in the morning i looked at the watch.It was 3:50 in the morning.I went to the bathrroom,took a nice bath and dressed up.Just at 0400 the booy started banging on the door. I opened the door and rold him to wait.I thanked him and gave him a Rs 50 note and a Rs 10 note. After receiving the money he offered to carry the luggage for me. I politely refused and took my bag and went to the station.

The entire station was empty.Only 1 ticket counter was empty.Since i already have 1 ticket with me i directly went to the platform.I bought 1 cup of coffee from a stallowber and asked him about the Titlagarh passenger.He told me that it will depart from platform 3.I then looked towards platform3 and what i saw shocked me no end.The whole platform was full of passengers waiting for the pasenger train.Some were sleeping,some sitting some standing and some doing their job on the lines.It then announced that the Howrah bound Corromondal Exp has just departed from Khurda Road and will be arriving by it's schedule time.The Puribound Jagannath Exp was alreadu standing on platform 4 behind a Khp WDM2.

I jumped lines and went to platform 2-3. i understood that they were all waiting since last night.The passengers were mostly labourers and their family mambers goimg to the interior parts of orissa and A Pradesh.After some time it announced that the BBsr Titlagarg Pass's empty rake will be arriving on platform3.

As I was jostling for my space in the crowd, I saw that a headlight was coming on the platform 3. I understood that it was our train coming. I never guessed that this train will be this crowdy otherwise I would have opted out. The only green point was that, it was just a corwd and not a line ,so I could at least kick some, throw away some and get into the train. As the loco crossed me, the crowd started moving to get into the still running train. The coaches were sealed tight but the passengers were already scrambling on the stair case. I kicked a man and managed a foothold of the next coach's stair. I was trying to open the window pane so that I could push my bag in, to reserve a window side seat. After traveling another couple of meters like that the train stopped.

There was virtually fighting going on. To my dismay I noticed that the coaches though VB were all MU'd. I noticed that few people were running inside the coaches to secure their seats. I noticed that the door of the fifth coach was open and the people were clambering thru the door. I ran towards the door as fast as my legs will carry me and banged myself on the human mass. I pulled one person by his dhoti and pushed another by me ankle and put my leg between the legs of another person. I somehow managed to get into the coach. I ran towards the 2nd half of the coach and crash landed myself on a side single seat on which after a microsecond later another person crash landed on me. I had secured a right side single seat to enjoy the journey and see all the other side trains.

Within 10 minutes the entire train was full and not single space was available. After sometime the Jagannath Exp arrived beside us. I could not see thru the opposite windows because it was heavily crowded. I forgot to mention one thing, that in the midst of fighting I had noticed that our loco was a Vskp WDM2C. After sometimes, I heard that the Jagannath Exp departed from platform 1. After 5 minutes I bought 1 cup of coffee and a plate of samosa from a hawker.

Sometimes later our train departed. It slowly crawled out of the platform. As we were leaving out of the platform, a goods rake passed us towards BBSR behind a pair of WDG2 locos. It was the maroone colored AB BCNA rakes. By the sound of it I guessed that they were all empty. Within 5 minutes we crossed another tiny station. I guess that it may skip the extremely tiny stations or the halts. After halting at 4 stations we reached Khurda Road station. There it announced that the Howrah Puri Exp is running by it's scheduled time and has just arrived at BBSR station. The howrah Chennai mail is running 15 minutes behind schedule and is waiting at BBSR station. I guessed that we will have a Chennai mail overtaking just at Chatrapur or before that.

As we were leaving out of Khurda road I tried to see weather the Khurda Road Puri section was electrified or not, but could not see due to the human bondings. By that time the passengers who were all standing has somehow managed to sit. I am surprised to see the flexibility of the bodies of the persons. They have crumpled up themselves to just 1/4th of their total standing mass and were having 40 winks. Some have managed to sit totally on the suitcases, some have pushed themselves below the single seats and atleast 4 persons have bent themselves ad sitting below the long benches. I thought that if they stay for more than 10 minutes they will have blood clots all over their bodies. I myself could not bend myself like that and leave alone staying for more than 10 minutes in any fixed position however comfortable it may be. I remembered one incident not related to railways. It shows that practice could do anything to human bodies and humans can do anything if they practice hard.

5 years back we( me and family) had visited a village near Durgapur. It was a typical India village one would dream of. Rise fields as far as you would see. The farmers singing in their country voices and the houses were of mud and thatched roof made of dried straws. The lightings were of tiny kerosene lamps. When the Pradhan of the village "Head Man" too us on a tour of his new bio gas plant some 1km from his house. On the way we had to cross a stream approx 100 meters wide. On it was constructed the widest bridge I have ever seem. It will put to shame the Hardinge bridge in Bangladesh and the Rajamundry DD bridge to extreme shame. I thought that the two bridges were the greatest man made structures I had seen in real life. The village bridge consisted of two bamboos planted in the water in X formation and a single!!!!!!! Bamboo in the middle of the X and that too with no guard rails. There were 5 X's alone the entire width of the "stream" and we had to cross it. The "Pradhan" lifted his dhoti to is waist and easily crossed the "stream" without crash landing in the water. I then saw a few child workers employed by a nearby brick field with 10 bricks on their head well balanced and their uniform consisted of a peace of cloth just covering their essentials, easily balancing on the "Bridge" and crossing as if they had been doing this for ages. I realized that practice could do anything to humans.

Proving me wrong the train stopped at each and every stations. Most of the stations consisted only of a tin shed rom which doubles up as the waiting room and the ticket counter. The length of the "platform" is measured by the rear and the front name plates of the stations. By that time the Easters sky had glown orange.

The train slowly inched it's way towards it's destination. after traveling for some time I understood that I had made a mistake by choosing this particular train, because not only of it's speed but also due to the passengers. There was a quarrel between a lady and another person. The sole reason was that the man had stamped the foot of the lady and both accused each other ancestors for their low birth. Later the quarrel graduated to state politics. I understood that one is a Biju supporter and the other one is a Sonia supporter.

After a few minutes, one of the persons who is sitting below the long bench, shouted something in Oriya and they stopped. By that time the passenger had arrived on a loop line of a station. Just as we stoped the hand of the main line went up, to signify a green signal. Though the electrification on this route is almost complete, the semaphore signals are also there. They have good visibility, during the day but a slight problem during the night because of the dimmer light that the normal signals.

I understood that the Chennai Mail will be overtaking us. I thought that it would be a good idea to get down from the train and take a slight walk, but for that I would have to travel over the heads of at least 500 persons sitting, half sitting, bending, standing and half standing between the door and my seat. I was only 5 seats away from the door, but still I am trying to decide weather to get down or at least try to stretch my leg. As I was pushing my leg under the seat, to keep my leg in another position it toughed something some. I looked down and saw a human bundle under my seat. I kept staring at the impossible posture that man had formed himself and snoring his time away. I found a bit of the floor to put down my feat and stood up. In the standing position I stretched myself and again sat down. I then opened my shoes and socks and kept them in my plastic bag which I had originally carried my food from Calcutta.

While we were waiting a goods passed us on the opposite direction. It was a 54 strong maroon colored AB rake behind a pair of WDG2 locos both of them traveling in the LHL position. They were traveling quite fast. After 10 minutes I heard another whistle. I guessed that it could be the Madras Mail coming, but I was wrong. It was the Mumbai Bhubaneshwar Konarak Exp behind a Vskp WDM2. Though the rake was AB it was dirty. There was a vomiting mark on one of the windows of the S3 coach. It slowly went towards bhubaneshwar. I guess that it will be held up due to the goods train it had passed before.

One thing about station was that, though the up line(ours) had a side loop, the down line had no loop. The station consisted of only a couple pair of stations names and a tin roof which consisted of a ‘waiting’ hall and a ticket counter. The ‘waiting hall’ had had only a 3 meter by 1 ft wooden bench and a tea stall just at one corner of the ‘waiting hall’. Then I noticed that the tea stall owner got down from his shop and came down with a red and a green flag. After making us wait for at least 25 minutes the Chennai mail was coming at it arrived too. Long before I heard the horn, I heard the extremely shrill whistle of the motors. As I had guessed, it came behind a Vskp WDM2C and it passed us at high speed and crossed us.

Then after 3 minutes our train started. The entire station was so desolate, that the only sound I all along heard was the wind blowing and a child crying somewhere in our train. The crossing of the trains seems to disturb the tranquility of mother nature. One thing I noticed about orissa was that it's features were more rugged and rough that WB and parts of Bihar. You will almost not notice any greenery here along the entire route. Our next stoppage was Chilka.

There I saw that a BBSR bound DMU( push pull) set was standing on the opposite platform. Unlike I had seen in the Sealdah Hasnabad section this particular loco had matching color with the train and it was MU'd I the middle. The sealdah hasnabad and the Bwn Rampurhat via shantiniketan had 5 raked and none of them had any diesel locos in the train. This method I guessed is followed not to keep the loco locked to a particular train when not working , so that it could be used else where. The front part of the loco had 5 coaches and the rear part of the loco had 7 coach. So the entire length amounted to 13 coaches inclusive of the loco. Both of us departed at the same moment.

Just after leaving the platform our train turned a sharp left turn and a high almost perpendicular sloped hill came into view. It had a communication microwave tower at the top. The maximum height could be 300 meters. The mountain was turning too and we also kept on turning. I pressed my head on the window bar and I saw that we were traveling thru a narrow valley type place with 250 meters high hill on both sides. After some distance, both of them started closing on us. Then after some time there was no space left between the lines. On one side of the line just 1 meter away the hill rose just like a wall. The lines were twisting and turning. I saw that 3 persons were traveling on the loco and having fun. They were sitting on the passage way, with their legs dangling on the sides.

At another turning the loco disappeared from my sight and suddenly the mountain ended. I saw that a twisting spiral case was comedown from the top of a mountain. It was decorated with triangular colorful papers. I guessed that there could be some temples o the top of it. Just after getting out of the narrow way our train halted at another tiny station. From that station he temple was clearly visible. While crossing the mountain I was hoping against hope there could be a tunnel but there was not. I was not sure because this was the first time, I am traveling on this route during day time. In all the times I had either passed in the middle of the night or in the crack dawn. I was wishing that I could get down from the train and climb on the mountain to visit the temple just to experience the thrill of mountain climbing and not for the temple.

Then I made up my mind and as I pulled down my shoes, the train started and immediately picked up speed. You could then understand my disappointment. After 1 hour of traveling and after stopping at numerous stations we reached Berhampur. We were sided on platform 1. As our train stopped, there was fighting among the hawkers to sell their wares. There were hawkers of various types. I bought a Indian Express the BBSR edition, a puri and saabji a cup of lemon tea a bottle of mineral water a packet of sweetmeats and Rs 10 worth of nuts.As everything has an end, I guessed that my journey too has an nd.

After 1 hr we reached Srikakulam station. There a lot of the crowd gt down , even the ‘human bundle’ from under my seat and the wooden benches. The passage became walk able. I got down from the train t stretch my legs by walking on the platform. I saw that on the oppsite platforms, lots of people were standing. Probably some train is coming. After sometime, I saw a WDM2C in the end of the curve. After it came nearer, I saw that it was the Howrah bound Falauknama Exp. The train was heavily crowded, and the general coaches had no humans, but a solid block of humanity with legs and hands sticking out from the block. I was surprised to see the Falauknama that much crowded, because at Howrah the train departs almosr empty specially the General coaches. The total length of the train was 22 coaches inclusive of 3 HC Parcel van.

After sometime the falauknama departed. I saw that the hand for our train was ‘up’ but there was no sign of our train to depart. Then I noticed that some porters were loading huge packing boxes into the luggage section of the SLR coach. I then went to a stall and bought a cup of ginger tea and some oil fried onions. After a few minutes as I heard the horn of our train, I fast walked to my coach and climbed in. the coach was full again but not as full like from Bhubaneshar.

I saw that my seat was occupied by a man in spite of mine keeping my newspaper and the bottle of water. I politely told the man to vacate the seat. He looked at me with his yellow eyes and got up. Since that man was young and healthy I did not offer him my seat because he can do some moment standing. It will do him no harm. I am of the personal opinion that instead of ladies coaches in trains there should be a full coach reserved for old and disabled. In and around Calcutta for eg in Jodhpur Exp, Punjab mail , himgiri Exp etc trains there is a 1/4th portion of the SLR coach reserved for handicapped persons.

After sometime our train started moving. After a few minutes later it stopped again. I saw that it was another of those tiny stations serving the country side. The speciality of that particular station was that, it was meant for the persons of a ISI godown. As our train started, a train passed us on the opposite track. I was so surprised that I could not see the name of the train and the loco of it. I was not even prepared for the train. After sometime our train started. A few minutes later another tiny train passed us on the opposite line. It was pulled by a WDM2c loco of (I guess) VSKP shed. After some time we climbed on to un even ground. The train was climbing up and down.

Somewhat half our later we stopped at another tiny station. In this station the lines were on un even ground. So we were standing on what could serve as the platform of the opposite line. I noticed that in most of the stations, our lines were rounding around the platform while the opposite line was straight. So previously in historic times the opposite line was the original one while our line was laid later on. As we left the ‘station’ another train behind a KGP WDM2 came in silently and at high speed. I was not even prepared for that particular train too, but since it was at least 25 meters away from us I could see the name of the train. It was the Gurudev Exp.

I then pulled down the iron shutter to block the sunlight . I then took out the ‘Ludlum’ from my bag and started concentrating on it, only looking outside when a train or a goods passes us. I asked one person weather he has any idea weather the train was running by it's scheduled time or not. He replied that the train was running approx 35 minutes late. He then asked me about my destination. I replied him that I will be going to Vskp but will be getting down at Vizinagram. He told me in hindi ‘you could have taken any Express train. It would have taken yo to VSKP in a lot less time. I did not reply anything, because I too know that and he does not know about my actual intention. I was thinking weather to discontinue the trip at Vskp ,take some rest and continue the journey in any of the mail/exp trains on that route.

After some minutes pondering over it, I took my firm decision and planned that I will inform SK about my slightly change of plan and my approx date of arrival. Still there was at least 45 minutes left for arrival at Viziniagram. So I packed my ‘Ludlum’ and other items and started a short nap. While I was falling asleep, I heard half mindedly that a goods train was passing us.

I do not know how long I had slept. After sometime I was awaken up by the sound of shouting and people running. I sleepily enquired, the name of the station. From somewhere came the reply ‘Vizianagram’. I then within 1 minute put on my socks and shoes and took my bag and made a dash for the door. I actually got down from a running train.

I saw that we were stationed on platform 5, that is the up line(from Vskp) on the Titlagarh section. I put the bag on by back and crossed the track to platform 1. On the line ending at the tip of platform 1 I saw a Arrakonam shed blue coloured WAG7 parked and it was tightly packed up.

After sometimes, on the PAS it announced in the regional language about something. I guessed that it could be about some train arrivals. I then went to a stall to have another cup of tea. While the tea was being prepared, I kept my bag on the stall and went to the back side of the stall to relive myself. Then I was thinking what train could it be -- "Holy F****** shit" -- to my greatest horror I realized that I had left my tiffin carrier, my sunglass and my purse in the train. In my hurry to get down I forgot to bring them. By losing my purse I was pt at great disadvantage. It is not that I am totally without cash. I still have Rs 5500 with me on my person but in my pant near my knee.

What I generally do was, I sew a pocket on the inner surface of all my traveling pants and keep the important papers and cash in those pockets. My losing the purse I lost only Rs155 all in 10s,20's and a Rs50 note. Now I had to find a place where to remove my pant and take out a single Rs 500 note( all my cash were in 500's). But the greatest worry was, how to pay for the tea. After searching for sometime I found a Rs 2 note in the back pocket of my jeans. I paid by it. The tea vendor looked at the note and returned it to me.

Tea stall : please change the note sir.

Myself : I am extremely sorry sir, but I am totally out of change.

Tea Stall : Rs 100?

Myself : No sir, but it is bigger than that. I have Rs 500 note with me.

Tea stall : My goodness. I cannot help with that.

Myself : you can do two things. Either you take my note or arrange for change of my Rs 500 note.

While the exchange of words were going on, I saw that a Rajdhani colored WDM2 was coming from Titlagarh line. I was surprised to see a Hwh shed loco there and that too on afar flung train least connected to Howrah. After it entered the platform, I realized my mistake. It was not hwh shed but a raipur shed WDM2C(square) loco. Like some of the WDM2C's this one did not have the bulge in the front. I thought that the Rajdhani colored WDM2's were only at Howrah, but that day it broke my notation. As I would say it to SK later on that the Sheds do not follow their color scheme strictly. I had noticed many Bwn WDM2C like that of Erode shed colour. I asked the tea stall, about the timings of the Vskp bound passenger.

Myself : When the Vskp bound passenger will be coming?

Tea stall : It has passed.

Myself : What?!!!!. The train had passed?

Tea Stall : No. it's arrival timings. That train always arrives late. Today it will arrive even more late,because of the Puri exp(Ahmedabad Puri Exp whish has just arrived).

I had already started sweating, but after hearing his news, my sweat dried on my shirt leaving signs of salt on my shirt.

One thing I noticed about the southern guys and will also notice that the South Indian guys weather male or fe are lot more helpful and extremely polite than the folks on other parts of India. I will recite two examples regarding this. One is this tea stall owner. Even after having polite exchange of words regarding the mutilated Rs 2 note he agreed to sujjest me regarding the Vskp bound train.

Another incident I noticed in Bangalore. Due to request for privacy I will not name that person but he is a railway official and a dormant IRFCA member. After telephoning him, I went to his office to meet him. He greeted me with a warm welcome. He apolosized to me for not being able to meet me immediately because he has to attend a pre scheduled meeting. So he told me to wait in his office. After the meeting is over he again came back to me. We discussed railways.

He then buzzed for his sec to arrange for some coffee and snacks.We then discussed many things mainly about the Bangalore Hubli SF Exp and it's parent Bangalore Hubli Shatabdie Exp which was closed some times back.He also said that during the final moments of life the length of the train was reduced to merely 3 coaches,the same length of the Rajamundry Shatabdie.He then showed me a map of bangalore area with each and every stations along with their distances marked.

Then his secratorybrought in a man, who looked like a labour representative.They and my host started talking about something in Kanada which I could not understand. Near the end of their discussion,the visitor said" Please understand the trouble sir.They are paying Rs 30 daily just to commute from their home to their workplace". After that the visitor took leave of my host.

Just see the difference.In Bangalore a labour representative came to see his boss to complain about something his followersare facing and the matter was solved in a matter of minutes.If it would had been in bengal there would had been lots of 'action' like gherao,office ransacking etc etc.

Well I am jumping from topic to topic.

Since there is still 30 minutes left for the train to arrive, I decided to take a tour of the station and find a secluded spot where I could remove my pant and take out the 500 rupee note. I will also search if by any chance I had left any smaller denomination note in the bundle.

Previously when I used to travel with my family we never carried cash with us. After the confirmation of bookings of railway tickets and hotels we used to deposit the cash the hotel's Calcutta counter and take the receipt. After reaching the destination we used to deposit the receipt and take out the cash from the hotel's manager. We never carried more than Rs 500 with us and they are for the robbers and the pick pockets.

My dad had devised that method, because just after my parent's marriage they were traveling by the Madras mail to Vskp when somewhere after Khurda road they were robbed at knife point along with 5 other passengers in the coup. So after learning the lesson he never carried cash. If he had to go any business meeting, he would deposit the cash and withdraw it in his destination. I also adopted that method, but since this time it is an unplanned trip I devised my own method of carrying cash.

I looked around the station. It was a quite station with no hustle and bustle. The only sound was from the banyan tree in the platform where there are some birds nests and the occasional songs from a little boy. The platform was of low height hardly 1 ft from the rail line. The length was moderate. It could accommodate the Mad mail but not the Corro exp. Except platform 4 all the platforms were grass topped with concrete blocks borderings at the edges. I then crossed the line and went out of the platform.

The vizianagram town is a small one. It is proven by the fast about the calm and quite bus and rikshaw terminal just outside the station complex. There were 5 or six Tata and Ashok Leyland buses at the terminal, but I could not know sbout their destinations. Everything was written in Kanada. During my Thriveny Academy days, while returning by the madras mail I had tried to see the Karnataka and orissa border by seeing the change of dialects of the station names. Today also I tried but could not.

Just behind the ticket counter I found a "Pay and use" toilet. Luckily I had a Rs2 coin still in my pocket. I then went to the ticket counter of the toilet. The `ticket counter' just consisted of a physically handicapped man and a black table. The man had lost both his legs under a goods train. He previously worked as a gangman, but after the accident IR rahabilated him by posting him in the sale department of the toilet. The man had 1ps, 2ps,3ps,4ps,10ps,20ps and 50ps coins in neat stacks one over the other. The table looked like NY city with all it's needle like high rises being viewed up from an aircraft. The tallest building were made up of the 1ps coins and it's height was almost 5 inches. Uncle Osama could not ramm that building.

After giving the man the Rs2 coin I went into the latrine. Unlike most of the PT's in Calcutta, this one is surprisingly clean and tidy. After removing the note and disappointed on seeing that I do not have any smaller denomination notes in the bundle. I then found out a small restaurant and went to the counter.

Sales man : Good evening sir. What do you want?

Myself : What do you have?

Sales man : Since it is already (1605) late for lunch, we could arrange some sour curds and Samosas.

Myself : and what else?

Sales man : Sorry sir. We do not have anything more now. You could have dinner by 2200 hrs.

Myself : that is out of question. I will be catching a train within 10 minutes.

Sales man : Than may I pack some samosas sir?

Myself : surely. How much would it cost?

Sales man : Rs 2 each sir.

Myself : If I take 10 do you by any chance have change for a 500 note?

Sales man : 500 note!!!!!!!!!!

Myself : yes.

Sales man : From where did you get the note sir?

I understood their problem. These small town folks are not used to see 500 notes ,also the notes are hot favorites. So naturally peoples hesitate taking such notes. I understood that if I do not move out, I will soon land into trouble because I was having the gut feeling that the man was thinking that I am trying to pass over a duplicate note. So I picked up my bag and left for the station.

It was already 1020 by then. I looked up and say a Walter & co clock at the top of the building tower. Except some of the government administrative buildings IR is the only place where you will find lots of historical facts. In fact India has a lot of historical artifacts scattered in all corner of it's area. So when I was touring Europe and specially visiting the Bastill Jail and the table where the treaty of Versilles was signed, I was feeling sad for India. There in Europe they have preserved every aspects of their history and has kept the places clean, but you visit any historical place. You will find yourself in a garbage dump.

I then came on the platform. There as soon as I sat on a bench , the tea stall owner came and informed that my train will be coming shortly on that platform. I thanked the man. After sometime there was an announcement in the regional language. After 5 minutes I saw the train coming behind a BNDM WDM2C loco. The train had the highest composition I had ever seen. Just behind the loco there were 3 AC1 and AC2 composite coaches and 2 AC2 coaches. After that the train begins. Just below one of the AC coach, it was written by chalk "POH to Kapurthla". I could not understand why they were sending the coaches by passenger trains. Almos immediately I realized that none of the delhi VSKP trains will be able to accommodate the 5 coaches, without disrupting their schedule.

I then started to look for a moderate full coach. This train too was crowded, but unlike the last one some places of the floor was visible, and to my irritation I noticed that the coach was the day traveling coach. Inside it was hot and stuffy even though all the windows were open. I immediately knew the reason for it. None of the fans and the lights were not working. After a few minutes our train started. I could not hear the horn of our loco. It may be because our coach was 8th from the loco.

Just after climbing on the main line it gathered speed. And then to my surprise the lights and the fans were switched on. Within a few minutes the train was running at approx 75kmph, but that too for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes it started braking for another halt. Like most other AB trains, this coach was too a converted one because of the constant dragging sound.

As the train slowed down, the lights and the fans went off again. I then realized the fact. There is no independent power supply to the coach from the batteries, but from the dynamo which is fixed with the wheel by thick rubber belts. To my relief, at the next station many passengers got down. The coach became somewhat empty. I found a little space on the edge of a seat and sat down.

After a few minutes the train started and like previous times the fan and the light came on. I was eyeing the right door for sitting, but it was closed and a few packing boxes were kept there. I then took out the "Outlook" book from my bag and started reading it. Then without any warning a goods train passed us on the opposite line. It was so sudden that, I could not even see the loco weather it was electric or diesel.

At the next stop another bunch pf passengers got down and instead of the door I found one window seat empty on the right side. At least I got a lesser mortal than the best. I then hanged by bag from the hook. That time many hawkers were passing me but I was that time virtually cashless. My head was paining and my stomach was grumbling because I had not eaten anything since last night. I was also feeling thirsty. I decided that at the next stop, I will get down and have some gulps of water from any shop. My throat was also totally dry. I was so horribly feeling thirsty that ones the thought of drinking water from the bathroom tap, but resisted the temptation of doing it.

When I was thinking about it the train picked up a bit more speed. To my disappointment it skipped one station. It brought slight relief to me, but the thought of arriving at Vskp a bit earlier. After few minutes the train touched almost 85kmph. I guess that since the train was running more than 5 hours late, the driver was trying to make up as much time as possible.

After skipping some extremely tiny stations it slowed down and I saw the Kirandaul line coming from the extreme right. It reduced it's speed to crawling and turned left to enter a crawling. Thus we were nearing Visakapatnam. I requested a person sitting opposite me to look after my seat and jumped from the running train. I had already spotted a hand pump for drinking water. I ran across the tracks to the opposite platforms and went to the pump. As a little girl had filled her pitcher with water I requested her to pump it for me. She immediately obliged. After filling by belly with lots of water, I was thanking god for water. I thanked the girl for pumping the tap for me. She showed her 32 pairs of teeth and went away without saying anything.

I then noticed that a goods rake is coming on the kirandaul line and the Vskp bound signal is green. I guessed which train could be overtaking us. I then went to our platform. The goods rake consisted of half height BOXN coaches pulled by 3 WAG5A mu'd locos from VSKP shed. I then noticed a headlight coming from Calcutta side and I heard the diesel horn. The train was coming at high speed. As it approached the platform. As it came , I saw that it is the howrah Tvdm Exp behind a Kgp WDM2. I wondered when the train had changed to AB rakes because the last time I saw the train it was a dirty looking VB rake. The train passed us at high speed, shaking the entire platform complex.

Just as the train had crossed us, I turned my attention towards the goods rake. It was a fairly long one. To my surprise, I saw that a pair of WDM2D's were acting as banker but could not say weather they were mu'd or not. I could not understand the need of co much high power for a empty BOXN rake. I then understood that it may be needed during it's return journey when it returns full. But by the sound of the locos I guessed that they were idle. I calculated that on the return journey a total of 5400hp + 15000hp = 20400hp will be doing the job on the train. I wondered that only in this sector the trains get the highest concentration of power.

It then announced that the 2KV pass will be arriving shortly. I was waiting eagerly for the train because in 1 picture in a India Today edition long before I had seen a pair of WAG5's hauling the 6 coach train, but alas!!. To my great disappointment our signal was given and we slowly climbed on to the main line. Though my thirst had been quenched my head was thumping hard due to my empty stomach. I then went to my seat and laid my head on the window bars and blankly stared outside. The train was almost empty with nuts and peaces pf cloths were strewn all around the coach.

After a few minutes the 1 line from Kirandaul met us and the original line continued. After some distance they turned right. There I saw the most beautiful sight of all. 5 units of 3's WAG5 locos were kept there. I guess that if all the locos were to be attached to any rake it would have the highest concentration of hp in the world that a total of 75000hp and would have been able to pull a 10km load.

After some twisting we were stationed at Vskp platform 3. As we were passing thru the marketplace I saw the Howrah trivandum Exp moving out pulled by a Erode WAP4. it was a purely Rajdhani colored loco the old type.

By the time we arrived at visakaptam, I was totally down with headache. I had not eaten anything heavy since last night. Our trained homed in on platform 3. I had many memories of this station since my thriveny academy days. We used to plan a fixed date, by telephone and used to travel together. On that particular day, the entire train as filled only with us. The other passengers used to comment that if these guys travel together then there would be surely a train accident on the cards. The station had not changed much since then. Except that the tracks had been electrified. I slowly climbed up the staircase and went to the 1st platform. The station was unusually quite. I guess that there are no arrival and departure on the cards.

On platform 1 I saw on the electronic display board that Corromondal(right time), ratnachal Exp(15 minutes late) and no other arrivals. I then went out of the station complex to find a hotel. I saw that there were no hotel nearby. After searching for sometime, I took one cycle rickshaw and told him to take me to a cheap hotel. He asked me weather he could take me to a "Bengali lodge".

Rickshaw : Do I take you to "Bengali lodge"?

Myself : Where it is?

Rickshaw : Some 5minutes from here, behind the mountain.

Myself : Is it really owned by a Bengali fellow, or it is only in name?

Rickshaw. : It is owned by Mukherjee babu.

Myself : How much it would cost?

Rickshaw : Rs20

In other times I would have bargained over the fare, but at that moment I was in no good physical condition. After a few minutes I had realized that I had made one big mistake. I had completely forgotten that I had no change to pay for the rickshaw fare. I then thought that I will pay some amount in advance to the hotel and pay the rickshaw by the change. After going some distance, I saw that the rickshaw turned left and started to climb one bridge. To my delight that it was to cross the railway line. Just after crossing the line we turned right and descended.

I was hoping against hope that the hotel would be beside the rail line, but I was proved wrong soon. After going parallaleal to the tracks for some time we turned right and stopped beside one 6 storyed building and one green lighted board proclaiming " Old Bengali Lodge" . I then went inside and asked about the rates. After enquiring about the rates, I gave the manager the 500 rupee note which had been in my pocket since afternoon. He returned me Rs350. I asked the manager to give me some change because I will have to pay the rickshaw puller. The manager replied " I know him. I will pay him later on. I understood that, that particular rickshaw puller had some contract with the hotel against some commission. As I was writing my address on the register:

HM : Are you from Calcutta?

Myself : Yes.

HM : Where in Calcutta?

Myself : south Calcutta.

I was getting irritated, at his questioning, because I was down with headache and hunger. I was desperately in need of some food. I understood long before that my headache was due to empty stomach , but the manager would not let me go off.

HM : Where in south Calcutta?

Myself : Bhowanipore.

HM : Where in Bhowanipore?

Now I became irritated and asked " why?" I never understand why only myself I encounter these type of people. I could have rudely answered the manager, but could not due to his age. He looked above 60 and had a kind face.

HM : Are you by any chance the son of Bapi?

My father's nickname was bapi.

Myself : Yes.

HM : Do you recognize me? You used to play in my lap when you were young and had wetted my pant many times.

Here I saw that when I was young, I could not control myself and had wetted my pant and dirtied it many times. Later as I grew up, I was cured of my problem. But I frankly could not remember that gentleman or reliving myself on anyone. Well, after putting the problem at the back of my head I then concentrated on the timetable of arrivals and departures pasted on the wall with a cellotape , but it was an old one. The Corro arrival was the old one before it was speeded up. So I then took out my Trains At A Glance and started looking at the timetables of the trains. I was deciding between Corromondal, Ratnachal, Matribhoomi and any other train. Then another train caught my attention.

It was the Howrah yashwantpur Exp. I till now had not noticed that train. I also noticed that on it's Bangalore bound journey it is just running ahead of the Chennai mail but in it's return journey it is following the Trichi/Cape Comorin slot but with lots of stoppages. So after some deliberations I decided to take the corromondal or the Matribhoomi Exp which one departs first. After a few minutes, I went to the bathroom to shave myself.

As I was shaving, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door for the waiter to come in. Behind him, there was another man with a pail in hand and a long broom. He went into the bathroom and started cleaning it. I was horrified to see the Chinese palate. I did not knew that these fellows serve traditional Chinese. The entire thing would take at least 3 persons to consume them. But since I was deadly hungry, I think that I will manage them. After the man has left, I took out my "outlook" and started my dining affair. I somehow managed to consume the entire thing.

After finishing the dinner I then buzzed the bell ones more. After a few minutes the man came to collect the plate. He then asked me which train I will be taking. I told him, that since I have no reservation and will be traveling to Chennai, I will be taking any train. He told me then in that case the best bet will be the vskp Chennai Exp. I did not reply him. After finishing my food I was already feeling better. I was thinking that weather to continue as planned or take an express to Chennai. I then went forward and concentrated on the passenger section of the timetable pasted on the wall. I saw that there were no trains favorable to me.

I then planned that I will continue the rest of the journey by an express train. I decided the change of plan because I had already traveled for 3 days. And since I am not on a pleasure trip but on a mission I will complete the job at hand first. After fixing my plan for the next day, I then switched off the light and went to sleep. I do not remember weather I had any nightmares but the sleep was un interrupted one.

Next day, when I woke up I sleepily looked at my watch. I saw that it was already 7:55. the Corro already approaching raja and the Matribhoomi half way towards raja. I then buzzed for the waiter. I then went to the bathroom to freshen up myself. After a few minutes the man returned with a tray containing a cup of tea and a pair of bread and some fried egg. After gulping them down, I then went downstairs to buy the days newspaper. I could find none.

The area was purely a residential area with only a single grocery shop and a vegetable shop. I could hear the sounds of trains nearby. I started walking towards the sounds. After walking for a few minutes, I could not find the rail line. After walking for some distance, I found one newspaper shop. It had some regional dailies and a bundle of Indian Express published from Visakapatnam. After buying it I then came back to the hotel and ordered another round of coffee.

While I was waiting for coffee I decided to write the addresses of schools and other irfca member's address and telephone numbers in my diary in a systematic manner. Till now, then were all written on peaces of paper and were stuffed into various pockets of my shirt and pants.

By the time I finished, the man came with a pot of coffee. I another pot was hot milk and a bowl of sugar powder. I then prepared a cup of coffee. Either the coffee was bad or the milk was bad, because the coffee tasted something rusty. I somehow finished it and buzzed the bell ones more. After a few minutes the man came. I told him to bring me the bill and arrange for a rickshaw. He asked me by which train I will be leaving? I told him that since I do not have any reservation, and traveling to Chennai I will be taking any train. He then told me that a new train has started and today it will be it's 2nd run, but I am not exactly sure weather it will go to Chennai Central or go via perambur. I asked him weather he is talking about the Yashwantpur Exp? He replied in the affirmative. He, after a few minutes bought the bill. It was a bit costly for the standard and the food. The total cost was Rs580. I paid him total Rs600 and told him to keep the change.

I then took a rickshaw and told him to go to the station. After 10 minutes we reached the station. As I was entering the station I saw one express slowly moving out of the station and a WDM2C from Vskp was following it keeping some 10 meters gap. I then saw the name of the train. It was no other than the Corromondal exp running almost 7 hrs late. I was wondering what caused it's delay. I then spotted a man standing with is suitcase looking a little nervous. I then went up to him and asked him:

Myself : missed train?

Man : No. Just arrived by the Corromondal. A relative was to pick me up. Either he has left for the Train arriving late or he didn't turn up.

Myself : why did the train delay so much?

Man( In an angry voice) : not delayed!!! But made up some 50 minutes time!!!!!!!

Myself : huh?

Man : those bloody politicians from Calcutta boarded the train and those f***ers made the train to halt at each and every station till Kharagpur barring one or two stations. The reason was that just before the Corro one Mednipur bound EMU was cancelled. Then suddenly some caders jumped on the corro and shouted the death of Mrs Banerjee. She could not provide trains for the poor but for the reach. We will make this train halt at each and every station till Kharagpore. After kharagpore the train started as an express only.

As he was going to say something else, he waved to some lad, picked up his bag and left the station after thanking me. As I was wondering around the station many memories flooded me from my thriveni academy days. We were a feared gang of 600 traveling on the Chennai mail to school. We had a fixed plan. All of us would travel on the same train and on the same day.

Even the guys from bihar and other places in UP would travel with us till Calcutta instead of taking direct trains. I then remembered the Bengali girl from tripura who traveled with us till Calcutta. From there she used to catch the agartala bound flight. I to get her attention, used to treat her with liters of butter milk, exam notes , chocolates. If by any chance, her reservation was RAC or WL status, I used to put her in my AC1 coup and I traveled in her berth sharing it with some other passenger.

Ones I remembered that during our return journey by the Chennai mail we had arrived at Vskp. I was in a AC1 coach and she was in S2 coach. That time the Chennai mail had the Ac1 service thrice a Week and the corro did not have any AC1 service, and to my surprise at Chennai the coach was a Rajdhani one. When we arrived at Vskp on platform 2 , I saw that the Chennai bound mail too was standing on platform 1 with the loco already attached. It was greenish colored with white stripes( that's all I remember now). I called her from her coach and crossed the over bridge to go to platform 1 to have some snacks and fruit juice. Though there was one on platform 2 but there were 5 shops on platform 1 and I happen to a guy on one of the shops very well. After treating her to some samosas and fruit juice we started chatting forgetting that our train is to departure any moment. While we were pouring our hearts contents to each other, we heard the whistle of one train. We suddenly crashed back to our world and darted for the AC coach just in front of us. It was a blue colored one.

From there we saw that the other Chennai mail had started moving. I suddenly realized that we were totally on the wrong train. I pulled her hand and started running towards the staircase. As we were climbing down the staircase the rajdhani coach just stopped in front of us and we climbed on in. a friend of mine on seeing me absent from the train had pulled the chain and stopped the train. He shouted at me:

Friend : you ba*****. Where u had been?

Myself : sorry yaar. Just forgot and started drinking fruit juice.

After scolding the girl too he went back to his coup and I went to mine. I told her you stay here till VZA because there are some gn coaches between your's and mine. As the train reached vizianagram se got down and walked to the front of the train to her coach.

As I was pondering over these old memories, I noticed a young fellow looking at me bemusedly. I told him, that since I was having some fond memories I was laughing to myself. He asked me:

Nice fella : hi. Where you will be going?

Myself : Chennai. You?

Nice fella : Palasa. I am Rahul Pandey..you?

Myself : Milan Chatterjee from Calcutta.

I tld him to wait there for a few minutes and went to buy a SF ticket. I had planned that I will be taking the Matribhoomi Exp till BZA and from there either the TamilNadu Exp or any of the night SF trains.

After sometimes it announced that the Howrah Yashwantpur Exp is arriving on platform 2 and the Matrobhoomi Exp is arriving on platform 1.The Chennai Mail will shortly be arriving on platform 3. I then asked:

Myself : where does the yashwantpur exp goes?

Rahul : some place in Bangalore.

Myself : does it go via Chennai central or perambur?

Rahul : sorry…

I then opened the TAAG and searched for the train. It was not mentioned in table 7 where the Hwh chenai trains are found but in table 53 or something like that. To add further to the confusion, there was nothing shown against Chennai Central or perambur. By that tme the crowd on platform 1 had swelled many times.

I then decided that instead of taking the SF Exp I better take the new train, because there were almost no passengers on platform 2 and few on 3. after sometime in saw that one train was coming behind a WAP4. it must be the BZA SF Exp, but it was not. It was the Chennai mail behind a Erode WAP4. the train was heavily crowded. To my surprise, I saw that the AC1 coach was a full one and not composite class like most other trains.

After sometime I saw another blue colored train was coming behind a Kgp WDM2. it turned and came in on platform 2. I was surprised to see that the train was virtually empty. It may be for the fact that according to Rahul ii is 2nd run towards south.

As soon as the train entered the platform, I jumped on one of the II coaches running. Though it would be the last coach, on it's raja bound journey, it would be no matter because I had found an almost empty coach. I hurriedly found one empty single seat on the (now) right side.

The train went on till the end of the platform before stopping. As the train stopped, I saw that Rahul fellow entering the coach I was in. he greeted me readily. While I was boarding the train I forgot totally about him. One or two of the passengers waiting for the madras ail enquired about the train to me. I replied safely that I know that it is going to Bangalore but do not know weather it will stop at ____ station. You can consider this as an alternative of the Chennai mail.

I was very much thrilled and surprised to find a totally empty coach. After a few minutes, I went down to take a little stroll on the platform and take one cup of tea. As I was paying the tea vendor, I saw that I was put in the same problem. I had now left only Rs 5 with me and I was already feeling hungry, and the rest were 500 notes. I was cursing my luck, because there was a vendor selling packed lunch and all I could do was stare at it greedily. I was full of money but could not utilize it. It was like a person surrounded by flood water. Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. I then decided to ask the rahul fellow, if he could give me five 100 notes.

Myself : do you have five hundred notes?

Rahul : sorry. I have only some 250 with me, but it seems that you are in trouble?

Myself : yaah. Feeling very much hungry, but those fellows will not give change for a 500 note.

Rahul : no problem.

Myself : huh?

Rahul : wait. I am just coming for a sec. just look after my bag please.

After saying that he lifted his plastic bag and kept it on his seat just opposite me and got down. Before I could protest, I saw that he was bringing two packets of packed lunch from a vendor. I told him that there is no need for you to buy food like that for an unknown person. He replied that, since I am his brother it is duty to help me in times of need. I told him that I have money and just could not eat food due to lack of pocket change. He didn't reply and had gone to wash his face. I stared dumbfounded at him, because I still could not believe that in today's world such nice guys exist.

After a few seconds, I started to open the aluminium foil to eat my food. As I had started eating, I suddenly heard the "clubclubclub……..clubclubclub….clubclub" sound. I saw that the Chennai mail was entering behind a Vskp WDM2C.

After a few minutes without any noise I saw that our train had departed and was slowly moving out of the platform. That day, the Chennai mail was unusually long, stretching to 22 coaches. I tried to see our loco, but could not see because the train had bent on the opposite side.

After a few minutes later, I saw that the Ratnachal Exp was entering platform 1 behind a erode WAP4. I started counting the coach. It was quite a long train with 24 coaches inclusive of 4CC's, but many of the coaches were maroon colored. I guess that it could be the old rake of the train still running even after being converted to air brake. After finishing off my lunch, I then went to wash my hands and mouth. I noticed thru the windows the parking area of the locos. There were some 6 Kgp WDM2's and lot more Vskp shed locos, but could not count them all.

I then went to the other side to see our loco. I saw that it was a WDM2 colored WAM4. I was very much surprised to get a Bsl WAM4 loco, but at Raja I was proved wrong. After a few minutes, the train slowly started gathering speed. After a few minutes Rahul also came from the door and sat opposite me.

Rahul : where you will be going?

Myself : Chennai and if possible Bangalore and mysore, but first priority is Madras.

Rahul : what do you do?

Myself : study and part time jobs.

Rahul : I am actually a junior faculty, in NIIT at Ganjapur 5 km from Gunupur.

Myself : by Gunupur, you mean the Naupada Gunupur Ng section?

Rahul : yaah. I am actually coming from Rajamundry from my aunts house. I arrived at Vskp yesterday and am returning to my house now at Ganjapur now and from tomorrow I will rejoin my job.

I was, startled a bit because a bad thought was curling up deep in my mind, but he did not notice my worried look and continued on "…have 3 sisters and except the youngest all of them were married.". After a few minutes he suddenly stopped and asked me.

Rahul : what happened to you? Not feeling well?

Myself : just asking again. Where r u going now?

Rahul (in a worried voice): why? Will this train not stop at Srikakulam?

Myself : You are going for srikakulam?

Rahul( now afraid)why? What is the matter?

Myself : eer…I hate to tell but this train is not going to srikakulam?

Rahul : what?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope, you are not joking!!

Myself : no buddy. This train is coming from Srikakulam and going to some place called Yashwantpur and not going there.

He stared at me blankly. There were flowers and music falling from the sky. We were oscillating in the opposite direction like standing pendulums and staring at each other . His eyes were wide open with no blinks and his mouth was a O with his tounge hanging out. I guess that he was in deep shock. This must be his first travel and also the first mishap alone. He had boarded the wrong train. After a few minutes he asked me in an extremely faint voice:

Rahul : are you sure, we are not going to srikakulam?

Myself ( in a kind voice to reassure him): yaah buddy. I am totally sure.

He then held his head in his hands as if to tear his hair. After a few minutes he came back to his senses and asked me what is the next station of this train? I then took out my TAAG and found out the Gowhati trivandum table. After consulting it, I said that we won't be stopping before Samakot jn. He almost snached the book from me and started looking at the timetable. He said that is uncle had advised him to take the bus, but he didn't listen to him because the train will be more quicker. After a few minutes he looked crest fallen and surrendered himself to his fate. I was feeling pity for the fellow because though he is 3 years older than me but in terms of traveling experience he is totally novice.

After some time the train picked us speed. The guy in front of me sat dumb founded. I was surprised at his shock because many times many people have fallen themselves in troubles but I have seen no one shocked like this. We were both staring at each other and swinging like standing pendulums keeping in tune with the swaying of the train. After a few minutes I asked him that anakepalle is arriving, weather he wants to pull the chain and get down there because the howrah bound Chennai mail is bound to arrive any moment, but we will be passing thru.

He said that I will ask the other passengers for sujesstions since they are elder men and have more experience than us youngsters. I guess that he was still under the impression that I am joking and we will be arriving at srikakulam soon. After asking a few of the other passengers he came back more disheartened than previous because he had learnt that our next stoppage is Samalkot. He came back to his seat and sat down with the expression of a man gong for a royal hanging.

I then got up and went to the door. After a few minutes, a goods train crossed us behind a pair of WAG5's from Jhansi shed. Just after it had passed after a few minutes another BCNA rake passed us behind a single WAG7 but could not see the shed but it's head lamp was at lower level. I had decided that instead of paying attention to a nervous fellow I should pay attention to the outside. I had concluded that, that guy's nerves must be week, and if I try to console him more he will get irritated. The coach I was in was 3rd one from the rear. I then hanged outside to have a view of the outside and feel the wind on my body.

After a few minutes, our train slowed down to almost crawling. i hanged out and saw that we are approaching Tuni station. I did not realise that we had crossed Anakepalle station. I then noticed that Rahul had came and stood at the door in the hope that the train will stop. I was really feeling sorry for the fellow, because that was his first train journey alone and that too after 15 years he is boarding a train. I then further hanged out and managed to catch a glimpse of our signal. I saw that it was red. I told him to quickly bring his luggage and get down because the train is making an unscheduled stoppage. Just as if to prove me wrong, i heard a distant horn and the train picked up speed and left the station. He just gave a slight groan and sat down. I was hoping that the Chennai Mail be late, so that he will be able to catch it. I was looking outside the landscape. After a few minutes, I noticed that he had fallen asleep.

I then decided to take a tour of our train. Our coach had wooden benches but all of them were polished, may be because it was a new coach. there were hardly 15 peoples in the coach and most of them had boarded at Visakapatnam. Instead of normal lights, it had those small tube lights and the fan blades were made of transparent plastics because the blade was not visible. Our train was not moving very fast. I had seen this from my thriveny academy days that it does not run very fast on this route.

After a few minutes the train started to slow down to cross a tiny bridge. I then went to the door to sit there. After a few minutes a goods rake passed us behind a pair of dirty looking WAG5 but could not see the shed.Just it passed about 2 minutes late another tiny passenger passed us behind a WAM4 most probably Ajj shed. The train maintained a steady speed. The track condition was extremely poor. The constant clattering of the wheels and the continieous 'Chaaaanggg' sound was hurting the ears.

After a few minutes, I saw in the far distance that a red colored loco was coming towards us. After a few seconds I saw that it was the chennai mail behind a Erode WAP4.The train was going slowly. I was hoping that the fellow did not see the chennai mail pass because I had told him that if I am able to stop the train at Annavaram then I will help him catch the chennai mail for srikakulam. He then came up to me with a cup in hand. I was continiously surprised at this's guys generousity, because firstly he had offered me lunch, now tea. He said:

Rahul : Just saw the chennai mail go by.

My hope dashed because he had noticed it.

Rahul : where will this next stop?

Myself : samalkot jn and then Rajamundry.

Myself : You can do another thing....You can take any train in the return direction.

Rahul : Forgive me brother. I had enough of trains to last me a life time. I will take a bus from there and go to my village.

Myself : does buses go to your village? I asked him a little surprised.

Rahul : Not exactly to my village but thruu another village on the main road. I will have to get down there and take a horse cart to my village. It will take some 3 hours from there to my home. There are local buses too but they mostly carry livestocks than humans.

Myself : Livestocks?!!!!

Rahul : the villagers herd up their lambs and the chicken on too the buses which makes it look like a hatchery and not a bus and I cannot tolerate stamping myself on the droppings of the lambs.

Myself :hmmmmm.

While we were talking two goods passed us behind a single WAG7 and a LPG rake behind a WDG2.All thruu this time the train kept up a standard speed.I was a bit dissapointed at the lack of attempt to make up some of the lost time. If the Corro could make up some 1hr between Kharagpor and Vskp our train could at least aim for 1/2 hour make up.

After a few minutes I got up from the door and went to the bathroom. The bathroom was a clean one. After that I went to my sit and took out the magazines. While taking out of the magazines, I had a feeling that my bag was looking somewhat empty. I was trying to remember what else I had. My diary's there and the Ludlum book. The cash's in my pant's inside pocket.After searching for a few minutes, I realised what I had missed. I had left my entire shaving kit at the hotel and my toothbrush and the tooth paste. I had taken then out of my bag in the hotel, but after looking me in the bathroom mirror I thought that it may go another 2 days without shaving. I had forgotten them to repack them again. Now I will have to spend another Rs150 to buy them all.

The fellow sitting opposite me asked why I am looking worried. I told him that I am not worried but irritated because I had left my entire shaving and brushing kit in the Vskp hotel and they are all brand new.I had just bought them in the morning of my journey'd day.He told me not to worry, because money and things will come and go lakhs of time thruu our hands.

After a few minutes the train started to slow down again. I saw that it was due to some track maintenance. After crossing the point it picked up speed again only to slow down again. I saw that it was annavaram station. After a few minutes it had slowed down to crawling. I then saw that the train was being moved up on the loop line because a train was standing on the main line .I then told him, to quickly gather his luggage and stand at the door as I will pull the chain and he will get down. He told me not to bother because he is in any case not travelling by train again. I then went back to my seat.

The train on the main line was nothing but a tiny passenger train of 5 coaches behind a WAG5 from vskp shed. After climbing on the main line the train again picked up speed. I was getting a bit bored because there was no action on the opposite line. One thing I had noticed that both the lines except some short stretches were laid far apart, of almost 25 meters. Another thing I had noticed that just where the ballasts end beside our and the opposite tracks there are red colored markers sticking out of the ground. I first thought that the area belonging to the railways are bordered, but changed it. Because I had noticed the boundary of the rail's area some 50 meters away from the line on the crops. It is nothing but a 1 meter rail line with two angled lines sticking out of the ground for 1 meter and the marking was placed after every 200 meters .It was red colored and on it was written SCR, but then I still could not understand the function of the markings sticking out of the ballasts for just a few inches.

After travelling for some 10km I noticed a tiny thached hut made of asbestos sheet between the lines. It was the hut of a gang man. I turned blue with envy because of his so premium position for train soptting. He's doing train spotting 24 hrs 7 days. He will be watch trains day and night what ever jobs he;s doing while he's in the bathroom. After a few minutes the train picked up speed and along with that also started jumping very much. I then pulled down the steel shutter and started reading the Ludlum book because I have only some 25 pages left. After some 40 minutes of steady running the train slowed down. I saw that we are approaching samalkot JN. I then woke up Rahul who had fallen asleep.

Myself :Get up..Samalkot's approaching.

Rahul ; huh?OOh...Thanx

Myself : Are you sure that you will travel by bus?

Rahul :yaah. It is safer than trains......there you do not have the chance of boarding the opposite bus.

Though I did not agree, i didn;t say anything. After writing down his address on my TAAG, he wished me goodbye and went to the door with his bag. Our train slowly entered platform 2.On platform 4 a train was standing behind a red colored WAP4.As we entered the platform i saw that it was the howrah bound Corro exp making an unscheduled halt. Both od us got down on the platform.

After seeing him climb on the over bridge, i walked towards the platforms edge to have a good look at the Corro.I also noticed that a few young ladies were chatting loudly in one of the coach.It was more like clattering of wild crows than chatting.There appeared to be a whoe lot of them.As i stood in their full view,their shrillness increased.I also noticed some fellas with them.I wondered that they were having some nice time.We too had during our school days.A few of the guys caught my attention.They were subtly making various types of faces aimed at me or my T shirt.I then showed them the Universially Accepted Semaphore Signal.The signalmen use left hands to show signals to passing hands.I showed them with both my hands.As if in cue to my signal,theyr loco gave a burst of horn and started.I kept the "signal" in the "on" position till the trai had passed.

That day the corro too was unexceptionally ong.It stretched to 24 coaches.I was surprised to see 2 Tatkal's of SL class and 1 each of AC2T and AC3T coaches. I was very muched surprised to see AC2T and AC3T tatkals because they were discontinued last year.I then heard our train moving.I then ran and boarded my coach.After a few minutes, our train picked up speed. I then concentrated on my Ludlum. Only 1 person had boarded in our coach thinking it to be the Chennai mail.

gentleman :Why the mail is empty today?

Myself : This is not mail..

gentleman(even more shocked than Rahul):This is not chenna mail?!!!!

Myself :No..Where do you want to go?

I was hoping that this guy wants to go to Vskp and had boarded the wrong trai,but he replied otherwise.

gentleman : Vijayawada.

myself(relived) :There is nothing to worry about because this is going to vijayawada,but this is not chennai mail but Howrah Yashwantpur exp.

gentleman : what train did you say?

Myself : yashwantpur.Some place in or near bangalore.

gentleman "ooh!!I It announced in the PAS that the "chennai mail is just arriving on platform 2 but it did nto say a single word about this train.

Myself : it may be because this is a newly introduced train and it is it's 2nd southwards journey.

Gentleman : when it will arrive at BZA.

Myself : it is a lot faster than the chennai mail but it is running some 2 hours late.

During this time, I noticed a maroone colored Ab BOXN rake passed us behind a WAG7 from Asn!!!!!!!! shed.I was very much surprised to see a loco here from Asansole shed.I would'nt be surprised if i see a loco from Howrah or SRc shed here.I then thought that electric locos do not have the ladies like thing that they won't venture far from theor house.Many Arrakonam shed WAG7's are frequently seen in and near Howrah.Even in the remore corners of Sealdah and chitpur yard.By that time the train had picked up high speed.After a lon time the train had touched approx 100 mark,but it again slowed down andbecame steady at 85-90.After some time I saw the East Coast cross us behind a WAG5 loco but could not note the shed as i was not prepared for it. As our train was leaving the platform ,I heard the announcement that the chennai mail has just arrived at Annavaram and it is running 30 minutes behind schedule.

After our train climbed on the main line, it started pick us speed.Then at the end of the long curve,I saw a train coming.As it came nearer I saw that it was the Bangalore Gowhati Exp behind WAM4 type WAG5,but no shed was written on it.Though the train was AB it is badly in need of a bath.There were dirt marks on it and near one window there was vomiting marks.it was running at moderate speed. After some 10 minutes our train touched the 95kmph mark, but it was not a smooth journey.The train was jumping wildly like on the Kharagpur Adra stretch.The lines too were not continiously welded.I realised by the shrill and loud sound of the whees clattering agains the tracks.This is perhaps the worst section of the entire Howrah Chennai stretch.I saw that since my TA days nothing much have changed of the tracks except the electrification.

After sometime we overtook a BCNA goods rake at a tiny station pulled by a pair of Asansole WAG7's.At the next station we overtook a long rake of Parcel express behind a Vskp WAG5.I was surprised to see that the Parcel coaches were made of discarede coaches with the doors and the windows sealed.There was 40 coaches in all with a SLR coach serving as the guards coach.Another 2 minutes later another AB'd maroone colored BOXN rake with wooden boxes crossed us behind a pair of WDM2's from Vskp shed.Then aftera few minutes our train slowed down to cros a tiny bridge.After crosing the bridge, our train again picked us speed.I then pulled down the shutter and tried a gat a small amount of sleep.I am still left with the rs5 I had.Though that fella had offerred me unch and tea it really did not slove my problem.Though there was no hawker in our coach due to a few passengers.

I remembered one insident.Two years back when I was going to New delhi by the Puruliya Exp i was in the slr coach.The tran arrived 25 minutes late at Adra and since it was winter time,the coach was tightly locked up.After arriving at Adra the person sitting opposite me exclaimed that it will be very good if there is some tea.I told him to ait and look after my luggage.I am going down to manage some tea.When I got down I saw that the signal of ours was already yellow.I shouted:

Myself : hey you there!!!!Come over here to this coach!!!

hawker : I won"t go into that half coach.

Myself : What the bloody hell do you mean by "I will not go there".Your past 14 ansencestors will come.Come!!!!!!

By tell him that, i pushed him into our coach.And at that very moment the WAP4 sounded the horn and started.he started grumble loudly about not being able to sell tea.I told him to sell tea and shut up his mouth.

hawker : If I am not being able to sell this amount I just have to throw it away!!!!

Myself : Why throw it away?

Hawker : I do not regularly to manage to sell the entire lot in Puruliya Exp between Bankura and PRR.

Myself :My...My...My...Throw away the tea!!!!.Come on buddy...Do not tell tales at least to me.You save it up for next morning and reheat it.I know you fellas very much.

Hawker(After clutching his neck).On the name of Maa Kali(Godess Kali),I rwally thwor it away.If it a lie,she will destroy me.

Another passenger amused :She has begun the process of your dectruction.Now serve us tea before it gets cold,then you wont get payment.

I then pulled down my bag and took out the "outlook" magazine and started it to read the movie review of "revenge of the twister" and "Black Hawk Down" both are hollywood block busters.

After some time our train slowed down. I looked out and saw that we are aproaching Rajamundry.I was surprised how quickly time passed us. After some time it entered platform no 1.I saw that at the end of the platform some 25 meters was added to it, prubably to accomodate the entire Corromondal Exp.

I then got down from the train to take a little wale around the platform and observe the train.The entire atation was totally emptyand there were very few passengers boarding or disemabrking from our train.It then announced that the Chennai mail has just arrived at Samalkot Jn.I was surprised to note one thing.Just 3 coach in front of us bang in the middle of the train,there was a full parcell coach with the doors open.Inside it were 6 horses along with their guards.I asked one of them where they wre to be transported.They sad that they were being transported to Bangalore Turf Club.I had never heardthat Bangalore had any turf Club.

I then started walking towards the front of the train.If by chance the train departs, then i will simply wait till my coach comes at my feet and not me running to catch it.I then went to our WAM4 loco.I saw that i had guesed it wrong.It was from Ajj shed and not brom Bhusawal shed as I had guessed previously.But there was sufficient reason for mistake because the loco was colored detto like a WDM2 even with the yellow stripes. The loco must have been recently transferred to AJJ shed because only locos from Bsl shed have the WDM2 like traditional maroone coloured.Just above the buffer in tiny white letters it was written DB+HS+5P.Above them was written in white"regeared fr 140kmph duty" all in bold.I guess that we had been alloted a pretty fast loco.

There was only a single pepsi stall open.I went there and asked the person,that if i buy a 2.4lt bottle of pepsi will he give me a change of Rs500.He replited in the negetive.After some time there was an announcement about the arrival of some passenger in the regional language.

Then, after a few seconds our loco gave a deep goran like horn and started.I just stood there till my coach comes to my feet.After some seconds it same and i hopped it and went to the opposite door.Then only i noticed one thing.There was no line on platform 2.In that place there was a approx 7ft deep trench and some cementing was being done.The line had abruptly ended just at the begning of the platform.

During my TA days when we used to cross the Raja bridge i used to get the thrill.I remember in one particular year when i was in class 9 that year everytime i traveled between Chennai and Calcutta we travelled by the old bridge.One's while we were going to Calcutta for our DurgaPuja holiday our Chennai Mail was dierted to the old bridge.Just after Vijaywwada the storm started and after Eluru it had started raining heavily.That time since the entire stretch was non electrified our train did not face the peril of overhead wires snapping or trees falling on th overhead wire and snapping them.Our train continued on slowly and the storm increased it's intencity as we progressed towards Raja the storm lashed us with increased ferocity.We all realised that we are witnessing the famed Telegu cyclone.

Just after Kovvur the storm lashed us with the most fercious winds and huge droplets of rain water.After some time we realised that we were being diverted to the old bridge.After climbing on the old bridge,we felt the entire force of the gail winds.The window panes were shuddering against the winds.You guys know that the old bridge do not have any support at it's side.So by chance you fall from the door,then you will straight splash into the water of the river and no savings.The telegraph wires wont be able to bear your weight.After some 25 minutes crawling on the bridge, it stopped.I was feeling a bit afraid because there was no let down in the storm and our train was facing the full unrestricted force of the wind in the totally open place. Everything was yellowish brown.Eve the water was not isible from the train due to heavy rain.After some time our train started and after 40 minutes arrived at Raja platform.

Today, our train took the tight curve towards the double decker bridge.After some distance it took another tight curve towards the right and started traveling paralleal to a road.After sometime the road started climing for the top level of the bridge.Then our train took another mild right and entered the long bridge.On the bridge it maintained a steady speed.from there both the old and the new bridge was visible just beside it.I could not understand from there weather the old bridge is still in operation or not because I could not proparly guess weather the cantenery wires visible was of the old bridge or not.In an old TAAG front cover there was a picture of a long rake of Big Tanker pulled by a pair of WDM2's on the old bridge and it was electrified.I am not thinking weather the picture was of that particular bridge or some other.

After some 7 minutes we reached the other end of the river.Juat after climbing out of the bridge our train agained turned sharp right .Then i noticed that the overhead cantenery wires had just before the old bridge have moved towards the new bridge.Thst in mean'sthe 95 year old bridge is now abandoned.We meat the line coming from the new bridge at Kovvur.There i saw that the Howrah bound East Coast Exp standing behind a pair of Vskp WAG5 with the 2nd loco dead.I guess that it had been waiting for us to clear the Double decker bridge.

I could not understand why the train did not take the newly completed bridge,because I could not spot or had missed any goods on that line.After some time the ttrain picked up speed.Like the previous stretches, this stretch too was a slow one and the lines were speperated apart from each other.After some time a flats with three layers of rail lines crossed us behind a WAG7 from Ajni shed.The lines were 3 coaches long.I did not understand how will the lines bend when turning over a point.After the goods crosed us after 5 minutes another empty flat rakes passed us beind another Ajni WAG7 but this one is blue coloured and waist level headlamps.Then after 2 minutes we crossed another rake of old BOXN full of packing boxes.

After 5 minutes we overtok a rake of LNG rake behind a single WAG5 of old model.I could not see the shed because I heard the sound of another horn and I immidiately went to the other door.I had been shuttling between the two doors for the last 45 minutes to catch the action of both sides.To my great dissapointment the horn turned out from a single WDM2 passing us.After some 15 minutes re arrived at Eluru.Our train suddenly slowed down to crawling just before the station.I then saw the reason for it.Our train was beng diverted towards the loop line of the oppodite line.Our coach barely touched the end of the platform when it stopped.I then saw that on the main line platform long ahead was standing a tiny passenger train where we should have moved in.

After 1 minute our train started.Then there was an anouncement that the Visakha Exp has just departed from Vijayawada station and the Chennai mail has arrived at Rajamundry.As we came nearer the passenger train, i tried to see the name of the train but it was written no where.The entire train was horribly crowded and it had only some 5 coaches.It was pulled by a WDM2(shedless) with "Fit for Pass service not exceeding 65kmph only".I guess that the loco is badly in need of repairs or overhauling.

After climbing on the main line, it started oicking up speed.After sometime later an express train crossed us on the opposite line.It came in so silently and fast that I could not see the loco shed or the train.One thing I could decipher was that it had 5 AC's.That time our train suddenly picked up further speed.After a few minutes it crossed the 100k,ph mark,the fastest since Vskp.After some time the train slowed down a bit and again picked up speed.There was no action on the other line.After some 15 minutesa train crossed us.I guess that it is the Visakha Exp.AFter some 30 minutes the train braked hard and started crawling.I guess that we have Vijayawada coming.Here i have decided to lay a trick to get change for my 500 note.

A high mountain was coming into view across the clutterings of houses.Then as we were nearing the station i saw a pair of lines coming out of us and taking a sarp right turn to meet the line coming from Kazipet.I guess that it is the Vijayawada bypass line.Then I noticed one thing which surrised me.Vijayawada also hae an Aquatika on the lines of Calcutta and this one too is far from the city.After sometime just on the fot of the mountain I saw the bundle of lines coming from Ballharsha.On that line a train was snakeing across the lines.It was a maroone coloured train behind a WAM4p.I would later come to know that it was the Indore Cochin AhilyaNagari exp behind a Bsl WAM4P.

After crawling for some time,we were herded on platform 4.There was some announcement about the AhilyaNagari Exp and the Pinakini exp but I could not understand because the condition of the mike and the loudspeeker was extremely bad. As soon as the train stopped a lot of people jumped on our train.I sat on my seat just to prevent it from being taken.Within 1 minute the coach was totally full.It was the first time that so many persons had climbed on the train.After some time,the coach became full with peoples.I guess, that they did not expect this train and after being told that it will stop at Gudur Nellore Ongole and Chirala they were very much exicted.

After everybody had settled down,I got down from the coach and went to a stall to buy some foods.It was very much crowded and after some shouting I caught the attention of one salesman and told him to give me 1.5 LT pet bottle of Pepsi,1 cup noodles,1 glass of mixed juice(diluted many times over) and two samosas.After taking those things I handed him over the 500 note I had in my pocket.Within few seconds later,he slammed back the note on my hand tellimg me to give change.By that time I had opened the CD bottle and had depressurised it and started eating the instant noodles.I told him, that I do not have change.Either he give me change or I am going back to my train without paying anything.Though I know that I will pay him and he eventually take payment,It is just some tactis to get change.After all it is not my fault ,if the 500 notes are favourite with the forgers.He did not reply me and went on serving the other persons there.I told him between mouthfull of noodles,that my train is going to leave and he give me change.After two more reminders,he snached the note for me and within few seconds later stuffed a bunch of note in my hand.I counted the change and saw that he had returned 2 less than he should have returned.I did not further argue, and went to my coach.

When I went to my seat,I found it already occupied inspite of keeping my bags and the magazines on it.I politely told the lady to get up and I sat down.After 3 minutes our train started.As it crawled out of the platform, i saw one maroone coloured train was standing behind a WAG5 loco.I guess that it could be the AhillyaNagari Exp.I then saw that in a side line some WAP4's from Erode and Jhansi shed were standing in line with a shedless Shatabdi coloured WDM2 and some Bza WAG5H's.After it snaked out of the yard,it slowly acclerated.AFter some time I saw that the other line was moving away from us and the top of the Krishna Bridge cvame into view above the top of the trees.But the mountain,just across the river in the south and another in the north direction was domineering the entire view.I also noticed an abandoned line between the up and down heading towards the river.During my TA days,the line was still in use but just for backing up and forwarding.It must had been the old bridge but do not know weather it was the up bridge or down bridge.The line continued till the bank of the river where the concrete door was still standing but in an extremely bad shape.

WHen I first went to TA in february of 1993 the entire bridge was still there.But as the years went by and I saw that parts of the bridge were missing and last when i returned from Chennai in 1998 only a few spand were there and thr rest were reduced only to stumps.Today only a few mounds just sticking out of the water signyfing the existence of the pillars.

As we were climbing on the bridge I saw one Shatabdi colored MEMU on the opposite line and it was 12 coached with 3 power cars. After slimbing out of the bridge I heard one long horn of our train it started picking up speed very fast.The sccleration jerks too were clearly felt.Within a few minutes it reached the 100kmph mark.After a long time too the journey was soundless unlike the other stretches.Except the occational clattering of wheels,there was no sound.A few seconds later,we crossed the Basin bridge Jnstation at extremely high speed with blowing dust into the faces of the onlookers.I then opened the pepsi bottle and started having it in small amounts due to the gas.

After leaving the station I saw the Guntur bound line moving into a bunch of trees.That point was electrified,but I do not know how much of it is electrified.Soon it became dark.The lights were switched on at the station itself.The glow of the setting sun had cast a peculiar orange glow over the entire atmosphere.

After a long time the train was running at high speed and smoothly. As i was having my noodles a goods crossed us behind a WAG7 but could not see the shed as it passed us at extremely high speed.After some 20 minutes of running it started braking hard.I was dissapointed with such a short sprint,but no.It was Tenali station approaching.I was surprised because it took only 25 minutes to reach Tenail Jn.

As it stopped a few of the passengers got down from our coach.I bought one cup of coffee from a vendor.By that time I had finished my Pepsi and all other items.I noticed that the opposite platforms were being raised,and a new platform shed was being constructed.I also noticed one thing but could not understand the reason for it.In the platform there was a deep square hole dug almost taking the entire width of the platform.

After 2 minutes our train started.I then looked thruu the opposite window one train was standing,but no name was written on it.Beteen the heads I tried to look on the top of the coach to get an idea about the destination and the name of the train.Just we reached the end of the platform,i saw the name of the train as Sarbari Exp but at that very moment my view was blocked by a porter carrying a huige sack on his head.The loco was a WAP4 but could not notice the shed.

Just after climbing out of the platform,it slowed down and stopped.I then looked out and saw that one person was getting on the loco.I was irritated by the fact that if the man had to travell on the train he should had come to the station and not stopping the train in the middle.The man boarded the loco bust me known to the driver of that stretch.After 2 seconds the loco gave a burst of horn and started picking up heavily.Within 2 minutes, it reached 100kmph and kept a steady speed with occational slowing downs. This is the first time I am seeing a WAM4 the acckeration like that of a WAP4 with a 14 coach train.The train maintained an uniform speed with occational slight slowdowns.I guess that the new driver from Vijayawada is full of energey,unlike the other driver who was acting like a starved man.

After 2 minutes, a goods train passed us o the opposite behind a WAG7 but could not see the shed as it was travelling at high speed.After 2 minutes another BCNA rake passed us but it was VB behind a WAG5 from Tkd shed.I then decided to take a tour of our coach.Since i am in an "executive coach" we did not have access to other "lower mortal" coaches.So I am confined to my coach only.I then went to the other end of our coach.Though, at Bza lot of people climbed on our coach,many of them had got down at Tenali and only a few got up.There were a lot op peoples on the platform,but in spite of the same stoppage as that of Chennai mail i guess that they prefferred the Chennai mail more than us.I thought, that it is best as long as they do not trust us because we will then have lkess crowd.

Most of the passengers, were I guess short distances and locals.I guessed this due to the lack of heavy luggages and most of the luggages consisted of small packets and some briefcase type carry on.The total number of passenger in our coach could be at max 85.The largest luggage was a huge sack of bay leaves.Though the volume of the sack is 4 times that of the lady but the total weight is max 6 kgs.She had pressed it and had tucked it under the long bench.There was one tea hawker lighting up his stove.I asked him for tea but he said that he does not have tea but coffee.I thought to myself'even better' and told him that when it is prepared please bring it to me and I showed him my seat.

After going to the toilet I again came back to my seat and just blankly stared outside.I had by that time made up mind to get down at either Nellore or Ongole and catch any of the trains going to Chennai Central.I was not sure weather that train is going to Chennai central or not.Even it bypasses Central but goes via Egmore I am not sure weather it will stop there.So it will be a repeat of the Vaigai Exp experiance some 7 years back.

It was my 2nd journey to TA and that too alone.After getting dwon from the Chennai mail at 08:15 i took my luggage and went to park station.There after consulting the timetables and the fare chart there I saw that Chengalpattu is just 2 stations after Singaperumal Koil where I had to get down for my school.I then bought one ticket for Chengalpattu and boarded the MG EMU for Egmore.There i decided that I will board a fast train and and get down at Chengalpattu.The reason was nothing but a bit of adventure and train soptting.

After 1 minute we arrived at Egmore.There I got down and after 2 platforms saw a Mg Express waiting to departure behind a pair of locos attached to it.The lead loco was just maroone coloured and the 2nd loco was green coloured.Just after it gave the horn,I boarded one 22 coach and sat on the door much to the annoynance of a few passengers.After it snaked out of the platform it climbed on the MG line(the one which is now BG).AFter another blast of the horn,it slowly started picking up speed,but most of the EMU;s overtook us.That time I did not realise what bloody blunder I had commited.That train was none other than the MG Vaigai Exp.After Guindy it picked up speed.After somewhat running it stopped for a minute at Malbalam and again departed.It passed Tambaram slowly on the other side of the Bg platform and to my surprise it climbed on the opposite track.It then started running at really high speed compared to the other MG trains.

At some tiny station(I have forgotten the name of that station) we crossed an EMU.I could not understand which side it was going.Weather towards the same direction as ours or the the opposite direction.After some minutes it passed Singaperumal Koil station and headed for Chengalpattu.There i had never guessed that it wil not stop at Chengalpattu but straight to Villupuram.I then realised my mistake.After slowly crossing Chengalpattu it picked up speed and then stopped just at the station before villupuram. AFter some time I saw that the Rock Fort/Exp/Passenger was coming.I boarded it and returned to Chengalpattu by that .

When I was thinking all these, a express train crossed us in the opposite direction.It was so sudden that i could not neither see the loco nor the name of the train.But it was a pretty long train and had 4 AC coaches with big widows.I looked at the TAAG but could not find any train which would be crossing us at that monent.After some moments we crossed Baptala at full speed and headed for Chirala.I was thinking weather to get down there or at Ongole because there is less chance of good trains stopping at Chirala.I then went and stood at the door to enjoy the fresh breeze and have a look at the stary sky.Here the sky was not that clear like it had been when i had departed from Kharagpure by the night passenger.The clouds and the orange halo lights from the distant cities.Then after 2 minutes the man came and gave me a cup of coffee.I had forgotten about it and paid him.Luckily I quarralealed with the man at Vijayawada, otherwise I would have to go without coffee.

After sometime the train started braing hard.There was no sound but only a slight "whoosh" sound as I had previously mentioned.I then saw that the train was making an unscheduled stoppage at a tiny station.The train continued on and our coach just stopped at the end of the platform.I had seen that when any express or passenger(barring EMU's) make any inscheduled halt they do not stop at the platform but continue till the starter signal.Like that too our driver went till the started and stopped there.I got down from the train just to have a feel of the dark outside.The station do not merit being called a station but just a hut and a tiny tin shed which serves as the platform.There was no light except a tiny light at the tea stall at the 'station' and from our coaches.

In the distance I saw one huge lamp coming towards us.I guessed that it was an express train but i was proved wrong.As it came nearer, I saw that it was a waist level lamped WAG7 from Arrakonam shed.The 2nd loco was dead ut it was a normal loco.The rake was just empty depressed flats probably returning somewhere after depositing the tall containers.The surprusing thing about it was that instead of a guards van,there was one guard coach attached to it and a red lamp was just tied on the couplings.Just before the goods approashed I moved between the train and the goods.As it came nearer i stuck myself to the staircase of the coach.When the goods was going the entire ground was shaking.

After 3 minutes our train started with a two tone horn.Soon like previous times,it picked up speed.AFter some time, i saw that we were approaching towards some town.The lights were visible from the distance confirming the presence of a town.It was nothing but Chirala.Then after 2 minutes the train started slowing down.After coasting for some minutes it entered platform 1 at Chirala.

After a few minutes,the WAP4 gave a long burst of horn and departed.It quickly picked up speed.In contrast to our train, the last coach had two red lights tied to it's buffers.After finishing off the juice,shich had more water in it than the real material, i crossed the tracks and went to the previous platforms.As I was waiting, there was an announcement about some train for cochin in the regional language.I then started strolling on the platform.The platforms were not very high.It is maximum 3ft from the top of the line.

AFter some 20 minutes later,i saw one headlight coming from Vijayawada.After a few seconds later, i saw that it was the Ahilyanagari Exp for cochin behind a Bsl WAM4.The entire train looked dirty and it was VB.I asked the guard weather it will go to Chennai central.After he replied in the affermative, i started looking for any window side seat empty or not.I saw that the II coaches were not that crowdy.After selecting one coach just after the loco I climbed on it.To my surprise,the coach was not wooden but 3^3 sitting like the day time intercity exp's.Most of the people were curled up and sleeping in the seats.

After selecting a seat I hanged by bag on the hook and sat down.Then a man from the pantry, came and started selling packed dinner.I asked him what is the menu of the dinner.He just replied eggs and rice and some chutney.I bought one packet of that bundle.After opening it, i saw that there was a pair of cooked eggs in a 'curry' which was just dumped on the rice and a tiny pair of 'amchur' tucked away in one corner.The thing has turned cold.After washing my hands,i started having it.I am never too much fussy about my foods,except that they should be fersh and be fully cooked.I cannot tolerate 'rarely cooked' foods.

After a short blow of the horn, our train started.It's pickup was slow.As our train gathered speed, there was a low humming sound.After listening to it, i first thought that it may be the sound of the motors from the loco, but later i realised that it was the sound of the turbing tucked under our coach.As the train increased it's speed, the lights became brighter and the fans faster.After some time I tried to get some sleep but could not as the light was falling directly on my eyes.I started loking around for the switches to shutoff the light, but there was no switches.

A few minutes later the train started braking.There was the custoary dragging sound,but it did not stop.After crossing a caution point, it again picked up speed.A man from the opposite seat got up and closed the doors and fixed the latch of it.I do not know when I had falled asleep, because when i became awake i saw that the train was standing at a station.I sleepily enquired the man opposite me.He just replied"gudur" and went back to sleep again. I saw that the window had been cleared.The man who had been sitting beside me, must have got down at either Nellore or Gudur itself.

After a short burst of horn our train again started.I pulled down the glass pane,rested my head on it and again went back to sleep.I do not know how long,but when i woke up i found that the train was slowly crossing a bridge.It was a short one.I tried to guess our position by looking out.Then i saw in the distance the lighted chimney of a fertilizer company and the bridge was nothing but Ponneri Creek.So we are arriving Chennai central shortly.I was overcome with full of nostalgia as my TA days had been one of the best time in life.The other best time till now is 17th april 2002(place Bwn station.No prizes for guessing the matter).

After some crawling thruu the very much well knows stations like Wimco Nagar,Tondierpet,Korrukupet etc the train stopped at Basin bridge station.I went to the door and saw though the signal was yellow, i saw that somebody was climbing on the loco and after 1 minutes later it started.After sme 10 minutes snaking thruu the maze of lines, it entered the station on platform 4.I also noticed that there are a few WAP locos in the shed and some other locos.Since it was dark, i spotted them by their outlines.

Our train dragged on till the end of the platform and stopped short just a few inshes from the end buffer.I then got down and looked at the train. It was a quite long one,stretching some 16-19 coaches but not sure.I looked at the digital clock there.It showed 01:20:18 seconds.I could not understand the need to show the 'seconds' timings. The entire station was extremely quite.There were only 2 passengers from Mas in our coach and only 3 got down from the AC2T coach.

After getting down from the train I thought that I will go to the last end of the platform to see which loco is being attached to it,because it is clear that the current loco is not going to change sides and attach at the other end.I then decided against it and went to the waiting area.

Since I had suddenly woken up from my sleep in the train,i was feeling groggy.Though some of the shops were open,the most needed coffee and the tea shops were closed.There was one fruit juice stall open but on being enquired,they replied that they have only apple and jackfruit juice which i do not like at all.Mu favourite is pineapple,orange,grapes and black grapes but none of them were available.I then went to the waiting hall to find a place to sit and sleep.I saw lot of chairs in a raised enclosed area.A lady in blue was washing the area with a hosh pipe and told me to wait for a few minutes.

After she has finished washing(hoshing), i went into the enclosure.I looked at the fan and calculated where the air stream will directly hit me.I then choosed a row and a seat beside a man who was also in direct line of the fan.The chairs were made of wrought iron.It was a new addition since my TA days.That time we had divided the country according to the Indian Time Meridian which crosses Allahabad,Durg Sambalpur and some little west of Chennai.The fellows living west of the time meridian are free to go according to their own convinience or mode of travell they choose.The fellows living East of the Time Meridian should travell all by ourselves and in one large groupe and on the same train on the same day.Some times we choosed the Bangalore Houhati Exp or the Bangalore Howrah(then running) Exp.Some times we choosed the Corromondal Exp(maximum of the time).

The chairs were okay for sitting but extremely painfull for sleeping.There is no head rest and the back rest is only half height.I then slid myself low, and then pushed my legs between the back rest and sit of the front chair and rested my toe on top of the back rest in front of that chair too.So,i am occuying 3 chairs in total all in a line.The man beside me was snoring peacefully.I looked at the Digital Train Position system and saw that the arrival and the departure of the train by which I arrived is A 01:00 D 01:15. The train had arrived some 15 minutes late.I then heard our WAM4 gave a low growl type horn and started moving just behind th e departing train.In the digital board,there was no other trains position.I guess that Chennai Central get's very few trains in the middle of the night.

I tried to get some sleep.After some 25 minutes of futile attempt I gave up my hope of sleeping,because my whole body had started paining badly.After all I am not a bihari to sleep in any place in any position.I then remembered, that some one in Calcutta had told me that there is a highly sophisticated Cyber Cafe in Chennai Central station.I then decided to go there and spend some time there.I then got up and stretched myself.By that time the man had woke up.

Myself :By which train you arrived?

The man : Corromondal Exp.

Myself : When did it arrive?

Man : SOme what 23:55 hours.(he then went on and told me the gory details of the Howrah Kharagpur journey)

Man : I was supposed to catch the Kovai Exp for Coimbator, but will catch the Cheran Exp tomorrow morning.

Myself : You have just missed one train for Coimbator.

Man Which one?

Myself : The cochin Indore AhilyaNagari Exp.

Man : does it go to Coimbator?

Myself : I guess..yes.

man : okay.Leave it.Any how I will catch the Cheran Exp tomorrow morning at 06:10 in the morning.

After saying that, he turned and again went to sleep,resting and using some cloth bag as a makeshift pillow.After picking my bag I started strolling around the station complex.I saw that nothing have changes except the addition of some public telephone booths in the waiting area of the EMU section.There in one corner, a huge lot of biharis were sleeping.There was one railway operated fast food shop open but that time they did not have anything except Veg Dosa and not even coffee or tea!!!!!!!!!!!!.I cursed them in my mind and went away.

I still could not mind the Cyber Cafe there.I noticed one more thing.Just at the entrance of the cub urban point there are some ticket counters made of some carbon material.The counters looked like makeshift because there was no fittings with the mai station structure.One man was strolling with a LMG in his hand.He is probably some security guard,not in uniform.On top of some of the counters were wrirren Bangalore/Mysore.On another counter was written,Tiruvantapuram/Allaphuza.I was wondering what the hell is Allaphuza but at that moment I did not know that it is Allepy's changed name.

On another counter it was written Madurai/Tirunelveli.I wondered weather the original BG Madurai Exp's still run or had been changed/extended to some other destination.During my TA days there were hordes of Madurai and Trichi Exp's from Egmore terminal.After wondering for some moments,I then located the Cyber Cafe.

I then went, there inside not surely knowing weather it was open or not.There was a man sitting on a chair and sleeping.When I knocked on the door he just opened oneof his eyes and showed 3 fingers to me.I then put my finger on my left hand to signify a watch to ask for the time.He then just put up his left hand and pointed his index finger towards something.Following his direction, I saw that the red lighted digital clock showed 02:02:25 seconds.I still have 58 minutes of time to kill.I was wondering what to do.

Spending time in a railway station is not at all a matter to me,but it shold be a day time.During the night time when there is no action, it becomes a bore to me. I remembered one insident when we were returning to Chennai after our Durga Puja holidays and were all waiting for the Gowhati Trivandum Exp at howrah.That time the train arrived at howrah at 22:10 and departed at 22:30,the same timings of the howrah Trivandum Exp.Those were the days when the gowhati set of trains were perenially late,sometimes stretching to 35 hours late.That time i the howrah PAS it announced that the train had just departed Malda Tn and is expected to arrive at Howrah at 04:00 in the morning.Though we were a huge ocean of fellas time went quickly but for me I felt a little bored.

The train ultimately arrived at 05:30 and left after Dhauli had left.At Kharagpur the Falauknama was given presidence and at Soro another express train was passed.I now know that the train In New Delhi Puri SF Exp.We crossed the returning Dhauli at JK Road.That time the Gowhati set of trains had the Corromondal type halts unlike now.Teh opposite Falauknama Exp crossed us at Cuttack.The Corromondal Exzp overtook us at Palasa and the next days chernnai mail at Vijayawada.

I then went back to where I had previously sat.There I saw, that my original seat had been occupied by a family most probably waiting for the next days train.I then started looking for another vantage point and just passed away my time seeing the digital clock thinking many things.The time passed away slowly.I then took out my TAAG and started seeing the timings there and also other informations just to spend the time,though previously I had read then upteem times.

After what seemed to me a long time, i loked at the clock and saw that it is only 02:25:03.Only a few minutes had passed.I then decided that instead of just sitting and trying to spend the time, I will take a walk around the platforms.I then went to platform 1 and saw that a Saptagrihi Exp rake with matching WAM4 from Arrakonam shed standing in the dual discharge line.I then started walking along platform 1 and saw that some packing boxes were lying there marked "New Delhi".I guess that they will be catching the Chennai Rajdhani next morning.I continued walking till the end of the platform, and saw in the distance the lights of Ashok Leyland co and probably a shunter doing it's shunting duty.I could not spot the make of the loco due to the dark,but only it's light was visible and due to it's horn i made it out to be a diesel loco.

I then went down the platform,crossed the tracks and climbed on platform 3 wich is a bit longer than pf1 and 2.I then started walking slowly back to the waiting area.I saw many packing boxes were downloaded from our train and strewn across the width of the platform.I slowly and cautiously walked between them and the edgeof the platform.I then took care not to allow my gaze fall on the digiatl clock because I will find, that only 2 minutes will pass and it will bolg down me further.

After some moments when i reached the waiting area, i to my delight found that the coffee shop has opened and a man was cleaning the shop with a pieace of red cloth.I then went to the shop and asked him, how soon will the coffee machine be ready.I was again dissapointed to hear, when he said that it will be available some 40 minutes later.I then looked at the clock and saw that it is 02:45:25 seconds.I then went to the suburban section to see weather the Cyber Cafe has opened or not.I saw that it was still closed,but the man had gone some where else.May be prepareing for the next day.

I was,by that time feeling very much bored.I was thinking weather to go out and find the lodge SK has recomended but decided against it.It is very much possible chance that it will be closed at that hour.So after some strolling around,i again went to the soffee shop to see weather the coffee is ready or not.The man there was doing some cleaning of the displays there.The red light on the Coffee Machine was blinking, signifying that the machine is still not ready to discharge coffee.I was just looking at the displays.Various types of chocolates and other butters,ghees and some curd from Gujarat Co Op Society.

After a few minutes, I looked at the display and saw that the tain information display is totally blank and even the huge flat TV is off.If it would have been on, I would have spent the time watching the TV.I remember that during my TA days,I used to spend the time watching the Tom & Jerry on the display.

After some seconds, I heard the beeping sound from the coffee machine signifying that the innercontents are hot and ready to discharge coffee for me.After taking the coffee towards the cyber cafe.It had by that time opened and the man inside was cleaning the table.I went inside.Inside it was hot and stuffy.The man switched on the split AC and told me to sit beside the huge glass window.I told him to relocate me to some other machine because I had noticed that some guys were staring at the computers.It is not that i intend to visit any porno sites,but some one staring at what I am doing;I find it very irritating.Regarding privacy matters,I am more fanatic than the americans.Luckily the man located me to another computer.

There after logging in,I answered to some of the mails from IRFCA and one from Samitda.Then checked some news sites and a site regarding the schools in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.After some 1 hr 15 minutes surfing I logged out.That time it was 04:25 in the morning.Everything, about the cafe is good except the monitors.I have heard and today experianced that the LCD monitors have poor resoutions,that the Flat screen ones.

I then went to the coffee shop and had another sup of coffee.While I was paying the man I saw one train backing in on platform 4.I was wondering which train it could be.I then saw on the digital display board that Chennai Jammu Andaman Exp will be leaving from Platform 4 by 05;30.I then remembered spotting this train at Okhla stn some 2 years back.This one is virtually fast passenger.Between New Delhi and Jammu it shares timings with Himsagar/Navyog Exp but after New Delhi it slows down.While the former ones reach Chennai at 02:00 in the morning the other one slows down and reaches Chennai by 11 in the morning.During my TA days it was not bad like now.The train after some extremely slow crawling slowly banged against the buffer.

I then went to observe the train. It is totally in bad shape.The guards coach had the barest ofthe essentials.Even the glass of the pressure meter was broken and the bunk had the coconut and straw sticking out.I wondered what happenned to the rexin cover originally provided by the railways.Then i boarded the sleeper coach to go to the bathroom.To my horror i noticed that the bathroom opposite to mine had the pan missing,instead there is a gaping hole.If by any chance(i hope not) any body falls thruu, he wll just land on the wheel.

I then started walking towards the front to see which loco is been allocated to this "Fast Pasenger".I was surprised to see that a Mgsl WAM4 is just lying dead attached to the train.So, i guess that the train will be pulled by the Mgsl WAM4.AFter coming back, I found that the display board had come alive with the arrival and departure of various trains showing against it.The Tamil Nadu crossed Gudur,The GT Exp departed from Gudur,the Chennai Mail departed Nellore,the Yalgiri Exp(10 minutes late.I forgot which station it crossed),The Bang Mail crossed Arrakonnam,The Mysore Exp standing at Katpadi.The Coimbator Exp from platform 3,Mysore Shatabdi from platform 1 ,brindavan Exp from Platform 1 at 07:15 and the Chennai Rajdhani from platform 4 at 06:30.I thought that the departure time is 06:10.

I the saw that the time is already 04:45.So it is time that I better go to the Laxmi Mohan Lodge and book there myself as SK had sujjessted. Since Chennai is a known place to my it was not the slightest place to find the Park Station.I noticed one thing that the lay out of the parking place had slightly changed since my TA days.After going to the Park Ticket counter,I went to the platform.Previously there were 3 MG lines and one Bg line till Tambaram,but I noticed that at Park there is only 1 BG line and two MG lines.The fort bound line had a dual discharge platforms.

I have noticed that the EMU's follow the stopping marking of the left platform which stops short some 25 meters from the other one.Only 1's i have seen the EMU continue till the end of the platform on the other side.I was trying to look where the bridge for the MRTS is,because some one had said that it is just before Park station.I crosed the tracks to go to the other latform.There on the notice board,I saw thatthe light on "Train for Tambaram" is on and the light"Galloping" is off.I guess that after the concertion of the third track,the MG EMU gallopings are no more.

After 2 minutes,I heard a deep groan and saw that a EMU from Tambaram is arriving.I noted that there are 3 poser cars but was surprised by the fact that the 1st and the 2nd power cars formed the 2nd last and the last coach.Unlike the Bg's in Calcutta the mid power car did not have the driving cab sealed.It stopped by the platform 1 markings and did not continue till the end of the other platform.By that time silently the EMU from Fort had arrived.I moved back slghtly and went to board the train.

After a stoppage of some 20 seconds the train started.After 2 minutes we arrived at Chenai Egmore station.I got down from the platform and was shocked to notice that our train had only 2 power cars.I guess that these rakes do not have any consistency in them which will be proved clearly in the later part of my trip in Chennai.While,climbing up the stair case i asked him where Kennet lane is.he replied that it is just acros the road.There after getting down from the staircase I crossed the road and noticed the adress on one sign board that the particular road opsite me is Kennet lane.My dad had tought me,and also by reading other travell books like Hadly Chase,007Bond or Ludlum the best way to dindany address or street name is by looking at the sign boards of arious shops.

After entering Kennet lane I imidiately realised that it is a hotel area.There are various types of only hotels.From one hotel a huge AL bus was trying to get out and hardly negotiating the points of the walls and the gates.I was wondering why such huge buses are allowed in a narrow lane.After letting the bus straighten itself, i passed thruu.I was keeping an eye on both sides for the Laxmi Mohan Lodge.After looking for some time I found it.While I was entering thruu the gate,a man sittind there asked me weather I am looking for any hotel or not.I ignored him and went to the counter.

The counter was already crowded.After a few minutes later,i caught the attention of the manager and asked him weather he had any single beded room.One man at the counter said that all rooms are full and they do not have any vacency for the next21 days.So,I went out and went to the man and asked him ;which hotel he is the reprenstative of?

He told me that it is a very good and sheap hotel and not at all far from here.After that he almost pulled me by my hand and started half walking and half running.I told him that if the charge is more than Rs200 I will not take the hotel and will also not pay him anything else.I was a bit worried as he had said that it is not far but he continued on walking at high speed.After some moments we crossed and started walking towards the "Chennai Police Commisionar's Office".I was thinking where he was taking me.

Just after the PO's office where is a narrow blind lane just some 200 meters long.There at the end of it is a tiny hotel with the name written in Tamil.After entering there,I saw that there is one table which doubles up as the reception table of the "hotel manager".There were 3 rooms totally with 3 to 4 beds.Then one bearded man came and asked me,how long I will be staying.I told him that I am not sure but surely not more than 48 hours.He told me that the charge is Rs 150 daily and the ckeck out time is same as the check in time and "please inspect our bathroom".

I then went inside the room.It had one single bed and a double bed,but luckily I was the only occupier in that room.After inspecting the bathroom whioch I found satisfactory I went tothe counter where by that time the manager had laid out a huge fat book for me to write my particulars.AFter writing my name addresses phone numbers etc,i went to my room.After 5 minutes,the man who brought me to the hotel came in smiling toothedly and said:

The man : Plesae give this poor chap something.

After handing him a Rs20 note he said :PLease give some more sir.Thses guys do not give me anytjing.I only take from the customers.

Myself :haah!!!!!You do not take from the manager.I know you guys very well.

After saying that,I handed him a pair of 5 rupee coins.

The man(almost in begging position):PLease give me 5 rupees more sir.You are my god and saviour.Pleaseeeeee sir!!!

I took 1 five rupee coin and handed him a Rs 10 note.

After that he left,and I kept down my bag on the opposite bed and lied down on the single bed on one side of the room.After a few minutes,i got up and removed my shoes and shirts and went to the bathroom to take a shower.

The room overall was not bad.After having my shower,i took out another set of cloths and put them on.I saw that it was just 06:15 by then.So,i decided to take a short sleep,because it is atleast till 10:30,i won't be meeting with SK.I then switeched off one of the lights,but kept the other one on so that I will be able to wake up before the required time.But as luck would have it,i could not sleep,may be because i had some deep partial sleep in the Cochin exp.After lying idle for some moments,i decided that I would better take a tour of the chennai central station.After some time,i got up and dressed myself,and took out my entire cash from the "pocket" of the other pant and went out after depositing the key at the "counter".

Outside even at that moment the sun was blazing hot.After crossing the road carefully,I again went into Kennet lane which was heavily crowded.I guess that lots of tourist buses have arrived and may be some trains to have arrived,thus discharging huge amount of tourists.After some manuvering between the huge buses,cars and crowd i reached the overbridge of the Egmore station.I saw that on the BG section,there is the Nellai and one Tiruchapalli Exp standing.Also saw the rake of Pallavan Exp standing on the 3rd platform totally shut off and one passenger arriving a blue coloured loco entering with a tiny train behind it.I guess that it could be a passenger train.

While i was watching the general scene I noticed that one MG EMU passed towards Beach station.I then went to the counter to buy one ticket.I then went towards the front of the platform averaging guessing the stopping point of the first coach.I was surprised to note that it did not have any EMU stopping mark.After some time,i saw an EMU coming from the Park side and another BG Emu coming from the Park side too.The BG EMu i noticed had only 8 coaches with 2 power cars.After some times where there is no sign of my traini went to the nearest stall and bought one cup of coffee and some biscuits.

When i was looking avove at the tracktion wires and an aircraft high in the sky with a narrow thread like smoke almost few km long.Suddenly the EMU bloked myview which came in silently.I was surprised to see that the first two cars are power cars and they were facing the opposite direction.Another surprising thing was that the third powercar was after some 4 coaches later and the driving car was not a power car.I could not understand the hapazare arrangements of the MG EMu coaches.

After some seconds the train started,and within 2 minutes we reached Chennai Park station.I got down on the opposite side and saw another moderately crowded EMU standing on the opposite platform.Both the trains started simultaniously.After the train left i crossed the tracks and went out of the platforms.Just on the main road,i saw one luxary bus standing near a travell agent office.Everything was written in Tamil or Kanada i do not know but just in front of the driver in hindi was written Bangalore.I guessed that,that bus is bound for Bangalore for a round trip maybe.

I then quitely crossed the road and went to the opposite side of the road.By that time it was already 08:55 and the entire Chennai was on it's feet.There was a sence of urgency everywhere,with people going every where in every direction in every destinations.After crossing the road,I passed various shops selling various things from different types of shoes to leather made items.They were all shouting to the top of their voices to sell their wares.After crossing some of the shope,i found one stationary shop.There I bought the smallest toothpaste and one tooth brush.I was thinking weather to buy one shaving set or do leave that job for the saloons.

After crossing theparking area with neat lines of autos and private taxis and manuvering myself between the steady stream of passengers coming from the EMU terminal i came inside the Express terminal.There I heard one announcement about the arrival of GT Exp on platform no4.I saw that the waiting area was crowded with peoples arguing with coolies or some are pushing their luggages on the tiny push carts.I noticed one old couple fast walking towards l plarform 1 to catch the Corromondal,which is still waiting:probably departing at it's old timing.I noticed one red coloured WAP4 from Jhansi shed standing on platform 5. After nearing it a little, i saw that it is the mighty Tamil Nadu Exp which has arrived some 10 minutes back.Some of the scavenger boys were picking up the papers or other items throws from the coaches.

I then noticed in the far distance, a train moving out behind a Rajdhni coloured loco.I guessed it to be WAP4 but it was immidiately blocked by another train coming in behind another red coloured WAP4.I realised it to be the GT Exp.true to me,it was the GT Exp and it was a red coloured WAP4 from Erode.After some roaming around I noticed that the dual discharge platform is empty with only a tiny shunter standing there.The loco too was Rajdhani coloured.I then bought one cup of coffee from a shop and a chocolate bar.

After having the coffee and the chocolate i threw the wastes into a waste paper box and was thinking about the WDS6 loco.I thought that they were only for Hwh shed.In the ER hwh shed all the diesel,even the shunters are Rajdhani coloured.I was very much surprised by seeing the loco there at Chennai.The electronic display board is cluttered with trains arrival and departure announcements.I was trying to guess the Chennai Central at 01:30 at night and at 09:50 in the morning.I could not just belive the difference between the two Chennai Centrals.AFter sometime it announced that the Trivandum mail will be shortly arriving on platform 1.I guess what made the train run so late.

After some time, i then went to a STD booth to make a trunk call to calcutta.I then went to the end of platform 5 where in the morning I have noticed that there are some telephone booths.Finding one empty,i made a trunk call first to Calcutta and then to durgapur.AFter then, i took my diary and then telephones SK in his home.After some times ringing, he picked up the phone.I was surprised to hear his voice.It sounded like a bit old, because I had imagined him to be a man in the middle ages in 45's or some what.He told me to go to the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office in the Annex building on the 6th floor.I then paid the man at the counter and went out of the station.Luckily I had purchages a PT before entering,because when i was going out,i was asked for my ticket at the main gate.I just handed over the ticket and went out.T

here I asked one man where the Annex bulding was.He showed me one red coloured building.There at the lobby there wasa cluster of wooden slates with names of paerons,their offices on the respective floors written on them.I was searching for the name of S KrishnaMoorthy but could not notice anything.There was one Krishnamoorthy but it is on 5th floor.So,i decided to take a chancce and went to the lift.There were three parsons standing in line in front of the lift.After a few minutes later the lift came and we all hopped in.I told the liftman to take me to the fifts floor.He just gave me an alarmed look,but could not understand the reason for it.After arriving there,i understood.The name Krishnamoorthy was that of the chief of the RPF there and the entire 5th floor was an RPF office.

I then asked a Constably for the direction to the Office of the Chief Mechanical Engineer.He then told me that I am in the wrong building altogether.It is in the 6th floor of the next buiiding,on the left side.After coming down by the staircase,i went out and turned left along a narrow road.After some 2 minutes I found another tall building.Just in front of it was a NG Steam Loco preserved on a raised place.After entering the building to be doubly sure,I asked one man for the direction of the Office of Mr S Krishnamoorthy the Chief Mechanical Engineer.He said that it is on the left side on 6th floor.After thanking him, i went to the lift and immidiately went to the 6th floor.

There a lady asked me my purpose of my visit.I replied that I will be meeting Mr k'Moorthy.She said that he had still not arrived.I was relived,because my moto is that I will arrive before time than arrive late.So,I keep the slagtime at the begning of my journey to amy appointment than arrive late.I just took a visual tour of the office space.One the wall, were photos of one Erode WDM2, then a photo of a LHB coach standing in a factory and many other fotos of various workshops.Then in one part were a cluster of desks and benchen and some people were chatting on it.

Just above the place,from the roof was hanging a notice board proclaiming "Driver's Area".I guess from that cpace is decided,which driver will be driving which train.Then, i went to the waiting area which had a huge window opening out to the sea,but sadly the sew view was marred with various types of ships from the nearby Chennai Harbour.I heard one distant"Vooooooooooooo", and saw that one 45000 tonner was slowly moving out to the open.

I was atleast 15 minutes before time for my appoinment.After some time a saintly man came and entered the office.Then one man directed me to go inside,as he had arrived.

Material provided by Milan Chatterjee, Copyright © 2002.
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