Morning darshan at Egmore
by Poochi Venkat
Last evening (28th) a cellphone call out-of-the-blue had me in high spirits (?!) and even got me smiling at my obnoxious neighbours! It was the loco driver who had driven the inaugural Kudal Exp. on Oct.2nd. He was in Egmore between duties and enquired if his photos were ready (those I had taken of himself and of the the loco, at Kudal Exp. inaugural run). Of course they were...and I volunteered gleefully to visit the station and hand over the pics. in person!! I promptly informed Mr. Krishnan who promised to come along if time permitted.
Uh..oh..this visit meant I had to start from my house at 7am...(never got up that early...) but here was an oppurtunity for some super morning railfanning! I somehow managed to coax my half-dead brain to switch on and got to Egmore in a stupor! Ah! One look at the fine GOC WDM2 (16881) at pf#2 woke me up fully and I got busy noting down whatever of interest was happening.
6704 Pearl City Exp. had just disgorged its passengers. The interesting battle-of-wits between passenger&auto-driver was in full swing.... WDP2 155524 (orange-cream livery) had finally been relieved of its rake (6704) and rushed down pf#3 on its way to the sidings for a well-earned rest. Obviously, cold weather in Tamilnadu had affected it: the horn sounded strangled and pathetic....something wierd like "prrrrreeeeuuuuom"....surely didn't do justice to this powerful fellow !
There was a WDM7 at the far end of the platforms, looking very busy.
Kudal Exp. was ready to depart, with its boss, GOC WDM2a-16861, all throbbing and raring to go. the drivers were nowhere in sight so I stood right next to the loco drenched in the throbs and chugs of this venerable beast! just then the expressor unit cut in with its delicious thumpa-thumpa-thumpa...
A few locos were resting on the sidings and I snapped them from various angles:
- WDP2 15502 (green/yellow livery).
- WDP2 15524 (orange/cream livery): the paint was flaking off and the original blue livery could be seen underneath!
- WDM2a-16881 GOC shed.
Looking around I noticed a familiar stocky figure confidently walking down the platform: my friend, the chief driver! A warm wave, smile and handshake later, we got busy with the photographs. The "elderly" assistant (he looked much older than the chief!) materialised and got down to checking the loco while we both discussed possibilities of IRFCAians visiting GOC shed in Trichy. The chief said he could definitely help with the visit and asked for details.
Gang, please await further info on this visit.
It was 7.55am already: just 15 minutes to go for "take-off" so the drivers went to the rest room for their suitcases and other material. No sign of Mr. Krishnan yet; looked like he had got unduly delayed in the traffic. The mysterious metal box arrived and was promptly heaved into the cab. Then...."vaanga, ulla vandhu paarunga....." (come, come inside and see).....yaah! super! Here was the chief himself inviting me to a 'royal tour' of the WDM2 cabin. Without wasting even a microsecond, I vaulted onto the steps and squeezed inside!!
That mysterious metal box was finally open and I craned my neck to see what was inside (maybe magicians' stuff, as one IRFCAian had written!!). Out came the flags, diary and order sheets. In the box (as far as I could observe) were a powerful torch, Working- TTs of Chennai & TPJ divisions as well as odds&ends.
Chief then gave a beautiful detailed explanation of each and every control inside. Very enlightening. We got around to discussing how these beasts were started with batteries and the generator when... "saar...time aachu....signal vandhaachu...." (sir, it's time, the signal has come)...that was the assistant....and the end of my visiting hours! But it was only 8.07, so chief calmed the asst. and they spent a couple of minutes looking through the pics. Chief promised to continue his 'WDM2 classes' on his next schedule to Chennai. Great!
I mumbled my hurried thanks and stepped out of the cab.
Then an officious-looking walkietalkie-holding man came up and said "mm....kalambalaam" (ok, you can start). Chief then radioed the guard through his transmitter and moved to his seat (this was well padded, with a big back-rest too). Asst. checked caution-order sheets, grabbed the flag and took his position. With a final smile and wave to me, chief disappeared behind the controls.
a lovely "poaaammmmmmmm......" sounded as asst. pressed the horn button and let it stay there. Sounded like a fine church organ: (1st & 3rd notes of C-major, i think). A vigourous wave of the green flag, a slight increase in the alco-throb and WDM2a-16861 gently moved out with Kudal.
As the last coach neared the platform end and the familiar black exhaust cloud appeared way up front, I bade goodbye to the receding train and returned to my faithful autorikshaw waiting outside Egmore station.
Over and above the still continuing battle-of-wits between passengers & auto-drivers I clearly heard the now-fading accelarating roar of the WDM2 as chief loco-driver Sachithanantham notched up for the long journey to Madurai.