I Want An Ice-Cream Or How I Managed To Take The Showcase Picture!
by Bharath Moro
Thought I would share with you guys how the Showcase picture got to be taken. The whole thing was quite accidental! Be warned, the story's long...
Here is the picture in question: Nellore Bridge Watchman
On a hot, muggy Madras Thursday morning the last thing on my mind was a trip to Nellore. Infact, Poochivenkat had just taken off on the BZA bound Shatabdi. He wanted to do the up and down run in a single day to celebrate his birthday!
I quickly settled down for the work ahead - irfca.org's redesign! But as fate would have it, a few minutes into deciding which font would look better for the page headings, the power went off accompanied by a huge boom. Blown transformer, no doubt! Quick calls to the elec. dept confirmed the fact that there would be no power for most of the day.
Feeling a tad disspointed, I turned to a trusted friend in such cases, the TT! Quickly opened the MAS-BZA section and started thinking where friend Poochi might be. Just then, my sister walks in to the room with an enormous ice-cream tub. Something hit me that instant - I need to go to Nellore and eat ice cream!
Before I go on, a note on "Nellori" ice-cream. For around 18-20rs one gets a huge triple sundae, topped with real fruits,cashews almonds and pistachios. Quite simply, these are the best ice-cream deals in the country!
Right, the plan was set. Leave by the Pinakini exp departing MAS at 1400. Arrive Nellore around 1655, rush to the ice-cream vendor, eat a triple sundae or two and catch the MS bound Jan Shatabdi(~1800 at NLR) back. After cursory and mumbled goodbyes to granny and sis, I headed out to Vandalur Stn. The idea was to catch a local, get down at Tambaram, but a ticket to NLR and then head to MAS. I decided to buy the ticket here instead of Central where the queues would be enormous. Roadblock no.1 for the day - the TBM bound local was late by 20min and would arrive only at 1220. I was quite wary about the 20min delay and decided that a bus would be a better option. After a rather fast and furious ride, as is with Madras buses, I got down at Tambaram. Promptly went to the counter and bought myself an exp. ticket to Nellore, much to the amusement of the clerk - he'd never sold a ticket from TBM to NLR before!
As I had to head to MAS, headed to the BG section to catch an EMU to Park. Found the MMTS style local ready to depart and boarded. We soon left and as we were about the leave TBM yard, roadblock no.2 - the LC ahead was jammed and not functioning. The poor gateman was desperately trying to bring traffic to a halt and allow us through. It was already 12:30 and I was beginning to get worried that I might not make in time for 1400 Pinakini dep. After what seemed like an eternity, we got moving. Guindy was reached in quick time. We passed the Madurai bound Vaigai Exp headed by an ED WAP-4 22522 here. Soon Mambalam was reached, where roadblock no.3 presented itself - a passenger hit. The speeding Vaigai exp had mowed down a person and the GRP/sundry officials were busy arranging for a stretcher so that the by now quite dead person could be loaded. All this had consumed about 15 min and I was beginning to lose hope that I would be tasting a triple sundae that day. Finally, at 12:35 we moved out. Don't know whether the motorman was not comfortable with dead bodies in his train or he wanted too wanted some ice-cream, but he let it rip and we reached Park at 12:50. I had 10min to walk out of Park, use the subway and reach MAS. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but today the world was conspiring against me! Roadblock no.4 - the subway was sewer logged!
Cursing myself, turned right and headed for the traffic lights ahead where I could cross the road and get into the station. It was by now 12:56 and I had only 4min to get to my train. After much pushing and shoving, managed to reach the concourse at 12:58 and headed straight for pf6 from where Pinakini normally leaves. To my horror, I see a big 'X' picking speed - that's the train's LV! I really have to make a run for it now. Out comes the pseudo Carl Lewis mode! I finally manage to catch up to the guards door and yell at him that I need to go to NLR. He remarks that the next coach is the ladies and that I need to run even harder to make it to the general! I almost give up now and give a look of desperation to the guard. He immediately beams and asks me board the ladies coach assuring me that he will take care of things.
Nothing prepares me for what hit next - the sheer scale of noise inside the coach. There were hardly 25 women in the coach but the din they were making! Among other things, fisherwomen talking about the bad catch from the morning, drunk husbands and the bust size of Naghma! By now we had crawled out of the station and were at BBQ. Noticed the top headlight mounted ED WAP-4 22580 and a surprise visitor from BRC, WAP-4 22564 with roof mounted DBR's at the trip shed. We quickly galloped past Tondiarpet, Wimco Nagar and Thiruvotiyur. I was impressed by the WAP-4 hauling us. However, just as I was hoping for some fast runs, we came to halt after some hard braking. All signals were clear and I was wondering what had happened. Taking this opportunity, I decided to get out the ladies coach and find a much quiter place. 2 GS'es ahead, surprisingly I found a trackside window seat. Yay!. As soon as I plonked my backpack on the luggage rack, we started moving. The run upto Gummidipoondi was quite good, all signals were clear and were constantly doing 100-105kmph. Saw an interesing freight(army trucks) on the loop at Ponneri. The loco in charge was dark blue ED WAG-7 27636.
Afterwards the run upto Sulurpet was quick, we passed the late running Navjeevan Exp hauled by an ED WAP-4 22508 just before entering the station. At Sulurpet the crowd surged in, occupying every inch of the coach. It was beginning to get very uncomfortable and I started to regret my decision of going to NLR for an ice-cream. To compound matters, we were stopped at the station for more than 25min. Finally at 1545 we were allowed to depart. The Coromandal brezeed past us with 22511 in charge as we were exiting the station. Soon Gudur was reached where even more crowd got in. The coach by now resembled a Virar Fast! Yet again, we were delayed for no apparent reason. It seemed that the world was against me having a triple sundae. After a 10 min halt at GDR, we were given a proceed and at least the driver seemed like he wanted me to have ice-cream. We were at MPS within a few minutes and the short 39km stretch between GDR-NLR was done in 30min. But was that quick enough for me?
No. It was 17:20 by the time we pulled into NLR and I decided that there simply wasn't enough time to get to "Babu Ice-cream Parlour" and grab a sundae. Fruit juice would do instead. After a couple of mango juices, headed to the bridge to watch the action. A few minutes later the bridewatch comes along and plonks himself on a slab. I then take the picture you see in Showcase. There endeth the story!
Oh, and the return by the Jan Shatabdi was uneventful. Had delicious Veg. Biryani for dinner.
Would I do the whole thing again? Yes! I wan't to travel 175km, spend 65rs for the ticket and eat an 18 buck ice-cream!