Well… it was another routine trip to my parents’ and there really was nothing special about it when I set out for it. But the fog induced train delays and an interesting set of co passengers made it a little eventful.
On the fateful day, I left the office at 2:00 PM for my train scheduled at 3:35 PM (following the wisdom of keeping margins) to discover that it was running late by 8 hours. Well I spent whatever was left of the afternoon and the evening at a bookstore cum cafe in CP (PS-the tea and the blueberry muffin that I had there was awesome or maybe I was too hungry and frustrated) and came back to the station at 9PM to find that the train was further delayed by another couple of hours and I was stranded at the railway station.
To add to the agony my cellphone was out of battery and I had to pay twenty bucks at a phone booth to get the battery recharged. Ten minutes of recharging and I found the phone booth guy keenly interested in my phone , probably checking out the features (which doesn’t sound very plausible given it is a very simple model). When I asked for my phone he smiled for some unknown reason and said,”Maidam, charge toh pura lagega. Waise aapka blue tooth on tha…hum band kar diye” Believe me, a railway station is not a good place, especially for a female to pass time and that too the late hours of a winter night. Be it the middle aged man with a dozing off wife by his side, the phone booth guy, the book stall guy, the soft drinks guy, the porters with nothing to port or even the begging leper (political incorrectness intended) -nobody seems to take more than 5 seconds to figure that you are a woman, alone and bound to wait for some late train and a few of them even know the exact time because instead of reading the displays you had found it very handy to go to a stall and ask, “Bhaiya! Lichhavi Express isi platform pe aati hai na?”
Wisdom dawned well in time and I decided to go to the “Ladies Waiting Room” to wait. This one was a significant improvement over my childhood memories of the typical Indian Railways waiting room but I still could not make out the motive that someone would have had for ripping apart the handle to the glass door just at one end and then leaving it dangling there to make a damping sinusoid of knocks long after someone had opened/closed the door. Once inside the waiting room, I passed time reading one of my new books and the train didn’t get delayed further-” Ting!Ting!Ting! Yatrigan kripya dhyaan dein. Do Shoonya Shoonya Chhe Lichhavi Express apne nirdharit samay barah bajkar pachpan minute par platform number saat par aa rahi hai. Dhanyavaad. Ting!Ting!Ting! ”
The relief that I felt on listening this was immeasurable but on second thoughts….
…they could have said “renirdharit samay” or even more aptly “re-renirdharit samay”