Waitlisted for 26 hours! Bilaspur-Nizamuddin by Gondwana Exp.

by Abhishek Gopal


This was the second time I had to travel alone from Bilaspur to New Delhi. The floods in Orissa/AP had thrown Hirakund and Utkal's schedule out of gear. The only option left on the day was Gondwana exp. It was the first time I took the train for a sleeper class ride. Earlier I had did New Delhi to Bilaspur in 2A. I had always wondered what it means to depart at 6 in the morning!! A complete day in the train and then reaching the destination fresh in the next morning…

It was on 28th Aug 2008 that the alarm on my cellphone beeped hard at 4am. A time reasonable enough to catch 6am train. I don't know why or how but it took me 1 hr and 15 min that day to come to a station-going-ready state. After a few more unnecessary things, I realised its already 5.30am!!! And the railway station is fair 8-19 kms away!! But the early morning roads made sure that I was at the pf 4 of BSP station in 20 min. The small rake of the Gondwana Exp was there.. almost empty like the pf.

I have forgotten to add that I had a wait-listed ticket. And it had not got confirmed. The TTE confirmed so with a smile!! I said to myself… achha hai, hans lo. At 0605am our train started moving. I took leave of my cousin who had taken the pains to drop me to the station. As the rain was almopst empty I settled myself in a side berth in S6 coach. The early morning run from Bilaspur to Nagpur was smooth with just one unscheduled stop. Encountered a ots of freight going towards BSP. Rather quickly, we entered into Raipur. I say so because I didn't realise how the time passed. At Raipur, the passengers came finally and in a heap!!! Half the coach was filled up there. The seat in which I was sitting was to b filled in Gondia.

We started from Raipur and again had a smooth run till Durg. And as it happens
for most Delhi bound trains at Durg… they get packed!!! Many many people catch Delhi bound trains from Durg. Even Rajdhani. Durg I think offers maximum number of passengers. An elder lady came to my seat. Her face suggested she was looking for a seat. I offred mine. I was itching to go to the door but was worried who would look after my lone bag!! I settled the bag beneath the side berth and went to the door. The brilliant weather outside made the door-plating fun. I spotted two holiday specials that day and both were headed by a WAG7. Both were literally empty (Probably the last days of their run)!! Well, I moved to the adjacent coach where there was space in between the berth no 71 and the toilet area. I felt like till I get the berth, I should lie down here only. The space was empty as well with just one person sitting with the gate. The door offered a brilliant view of outside world. I brought my bag and settled down there after spreading a newspaper sheet. I was eyeing the TTE seat which till then was occupied by a gentleman. I asked him as politely as I could, where will he get down. And he replied in the equally polite manner that he will get down after two stoppages. I said to myself… come on Abhishek… grab this seat once and the journey till Delhi would be fun. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the turns and curves near Dongargarh from the door. All my dreams came crashing when a TTE came and made the prson vacate his seat!! And the TTE loudly claimed that he will be taking the seat till Nagpur!!

We reached Gondia and soon 2-3 more waitlisted people joined me and the other person already there. We 5 people chatted over some snacks. The wind coming to my face indeed awesome. The cool moist wind… woww… We reached Bhandara Road and there two people boarded our coach. The confidence with which they did so, I thought they have confirmed seats!! But they placed our luggage in (by this time) OUR AREA!! One of them was a 30 something guy and the other was his mother. She was under some medical supervision as well. We offered them some of our beloved space. This helped in Nagpur however. When Nagpur came, the TTE proudly vacated his seat as if inheriting a throne!! Everyone made sure that the elder lady has a bit of comfort for the rest of the journey. Many many people alighted the tain from our coach and the same number of people boarded. By the time we waitlisted passengers were a group and made sure OUR space remains OURS!! All the new passengers settled somewhere in the coach and in pursuit to save my seat I forgot to see the loco being reversed. I was a WAM-4. Which shed which markings no idea. The only thing I was concerned was about my rather our space!!

We won the battle. I counted the number of people in that area was equal before and after Nagpur. When we were entering Nagpur, a person alighted the train (which was at 10 kmph as our diamond) over the road-overbridge just before the open areas (before platforms start). Which locality of Nagpur is this any idea?? Well the train picked speed and amid the cool surroundings we again sped towards Delhi. Narkhed, Pandhurna, Mulai all passed among the beautiful and engaging ghats. The journey became even more interesting among the waitlisted professionals!! Our smiles by now had turned into laughter.

A series of tunnels came and went. In the evening, rather late evening, we came near the spot for which I was waiting like anything: Hoshangabad, Narmada and Budni!! Thanks to our IRFCA trekkers, I actually felt the curves of the area. One just has to be there to feel it. Thank you guys. We halted at Bhopal. All of us had our dinner after that. Some passengers borded some deboarded. I enjoyed srikhand (after 3 years!!). A teenaged girl had gone for a water bottle and had not returned and the train started moving. Her mother realised this a bit late and screamed suddenly!! We pulled the chain. The girl was however intelligent and had boarded another coach. But as the train was stopped, now her same aged brother went out to seek her!! A few minutes later both came and hugged their mother. As we were entering pf 3 of Bhopal, Goa Express was leaving pf 2 and experienced the same chain pulling.

Well it was around 9pm when we left Bhopal. At Habibganj a few minutes back, saw the Bhopal Exp standing at pf 1 with its looong rake and a sleeping WAP5.

The TTE came to us (strange it may sound) but he came and offered the seat to the elder lady!!! Everyone was in for a sleep and I took the opportunity to grab the vacated seat!! The TTE seat for which I was waiting since Gondia!!! I settled myself there in no mood to sleep.

At Bina, we stopped, for the elaborate shunting with the Gondwana exp coming from Jabalpur. We were in pf 3 and Jabalpur train came at pf2. (Bina's pf 2 and 3 are saperate with two mainlines in between.) Before the shunting of the Jabalpur portion, Sachkhand exp went screaming towards BPL and a couple of minutes later TN made a dash towards Delhi. The sight of a screaming 24 coach charged me up for the rest of the night which still had lot in store for me.

The shunting started. The loco (facing BPL side) detached itself from the rake with 2 GS coaches also. Our loco went to pf 2 and brought the rest of the rake to pf 1 and attached it in front of us. We were now 24 coach superfast!!!

I again had another srikhand and it made my eyes heavier!! Probably just 4 hrs sleep on the previous night was also taking its toll. Unknowingly I went to a sleeep amid the coool breeze. We stopped somewhere at a small station. The only thought in my mind was has Rajdhani overtook us?? We were in the pf and the other lines were after the pf. Barely 2 minutes had passed when a horn was heard and grew louder rather quickly. And here she came…. the BSP RAJDHANI EXPRESS came with headlights in full glow, horns in full blow. It blasted through the other side of the pf!!! What a scene it was, what a thril, the might of the Rajdhani express was there to see, the thunderous speed, no care for the silence prevailing.. wowww!! I still feel short of words!! The WAP-1 with 11 coach rake of the Rajdhani… Wow.. Brilliance in the night!!! I thanked the almighty for awaking me at just right time.. The roar of EOG faded in the diatance and there it was again. darkness and silence!!

That was it… I had a good sitting sleep after that and woke only with considerable light in the sky… The morning departures from NZM crossed us one by one.. The disappointment was the Bhopal Shatabdi which was at low speed.:-(.

Well.. finally we reached Nizamuddin (late by an hour or so). As usual busy Nizamuddin station.

Well.. finally we reached Nizamuddin (late by an hour or so). As usual busy Nizamuddin station.This was my first trip as a waitlisted passenger for 26 hours!! In fact I so much absorbed I was in my space that I didn't even asked once the TTE if there is any scope of having a seat!! A railfan's spirit!! hehehe…

Well.. finally we reached Nizamuddin (late by an hour or so). As usual busy Nizamuddin station.This was my first trip as a waitlisted passenger for 26 hours!! In fact I so much absorbed I was in my space that I didn't even asked once the TTE if there is any scope of having a seat!! A railfan's spirit!! hehehe…Thanks for reading!!

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