Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Shaadi Ke Laddoo

So the scene is set, a full strength Punjabi wedding party is raring to go – suitcases packed, food stuff checked, head count and more importantly luggage counts done thrice over … waiting for the taxis to arrive. The promised taxis do arrive on time but their number is one less than we had ordered. Turned out that the designated vehicle developed a fault and the replacement was 45 min away !! Frantic calls to other taxi companies returned a nought and by the time we fully assessed the situation, the entire wedding party had left for the station minus the bridegroom and his parents !! So my brain goes into overdrive and I hastily fetch an auto and pack mom & dad and a couple of heavy suitcases and off they went. And then the bigger realization dawns upon me. It is me who is supposed to get married and I am the only one who doesn’t have a ride to the station !!

Just then, an idea occurred to me and a quick jog later I was on the Metro to Indraprastha. All through the ride, I was on the phone trying to keep track of everybody else. The lot in the taxis were virtually at the station's doorstep by then and my parents had a 20 min head start.

Oblivious of Delhi’s mid day traffic, the Metro sailed over everyone’s head, dived into the earth’s bowels and emerged atop Indraprastha station in 35 mins flat. Scrambling off, I ran to the road outside and caught a DTC bus which dropped me a few minutes later outside Nizamuddin station's east entrance. Jogging up the stairs I checked with my parents who were climbing the stairs on the western side. The rest of my family was already on the platform and I joined them.

We were to take the Chattisgarh Sampark Kranti due on platform #6, while the August Kranti Rajdhani was berthed on #7 ready to leave for Bombay. Almost 25 mins had gone by and there was no sign of my parents. Meanwhile the Rajdhani started and within seconds it stopped following following an Alarm Chain Pull. There was a bit of commotion in one of the further coaches to which I didn’t pay much attention as I was busy calling mom trying to see where to they were. There was no reply on her phone despite repeated calls and we all got worried as our train had also been berthed by then. A couple of us fanned out on the platform and after frantic searching I saw them walking towards our train with Mom looking white as a sheet.

It so happened that my parents mistook the August Kranti for the Sampark Kranti and promptly hopped on to it. Only after the train moved that they realised that they had dialled the wrong number and promptly pulled the chain. The TTE who was standing right there caught hold of them and demanded that they pay a fine and bystanders being bystanders, they too had formed groups for and against my parents. All that drama was too much for my dad and he summarily gave the TTE a dressing down in choicest Punjabi. The TTE then relented and finally we were aboard the right train with each person and luggage article accounted for thrice.

All settled, We pulled out of the station and soon the racket created by my family drowned whatever anybody else was saying. Whatever the pantry boys brought was consumed in dozens be it tea, coffee, snacks or meals. I tried to hang around the door for a bit, but the cold weather make it nigh impossible.

Dad was busy recording everyone’s antics on his handycam as the flat green countryside disappeared in a blur. Darkness soon fell and we crossed Mathura, Agra and Gwalior for a non-stop run to Jhansi. By then most of the coach was sleeping - the silence punctuated by the bad-silencer-Yezdi snores of my uncle. I got off for a stroll on the platform pondering about the future that lay ahead for me. Twenty eight years of bachelorhood were about to become history. I was wondering how often will I get on a train to get to nowhere in particular? How often would I be able spend evenings doing what oly boys can do?

My reverie was broken the melodious twin tone horn of the engine ahead and I scrambled back in, since the new set of drivers seemed to be in a major hurry to get on with the job. Sleep came soon and I woke up to find us slowing down to enter station. We ended up way too early and had an hour before we could start.

Despite the morning chill, many passengers were up and about looking for their morning cuppa chai. Some were attempting a morning walk within the confines of the platform while others were doing stretching exercises. Away from all of this was yours truly, who was skulking around, armed with a camera waiting to pounce upon any unsuspecting trains that happened to pass by.

The sun was rising bright and strong as we cleared Katni and headed full steam into the Kipling country. Miles and miles of jungle with the odd town thrown in. Standing on the door, I was dreaming of Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo & friends while keeping an eye for Sher Khan. Soon, jungle gave way to the industrial towns of Chhattisgarh as we crossed, Bilaspur, Raipur in quick succession.

Meanwhile, my family had started getting nervous about getting the luggage to the door. No matter how much I tried to convince that Durg is the train’s last stop and we needn’t worry, they won the argument and both the doors were blocked and I was summarily banned from hanging out of the door anymore. After all my in-laws would be waiting for me at Durg and I would have looked like a monkey hanging from the door as the train pulled in. So I walked back to my seat and sulked in silence while my family commandeered the door and the luggage and head count began again. They came up one person short…. they’d obviously forgotten to count the one person because of whose wedding they were there in the first place. However, the luggage count was perfect so it didn’t matter too much. Soon I was mobbed by my in-laws to be and bundled straight into the waiting car.

Thus ended by last train ride as a bachelor, (just a reminder, in case you’ve forgotten where this long winded story began)


The Double Inverted Commas said...

Wow! Nice post and superbly described journey. I love train journeys

Perakath said...

Wow! Don't think the laddoo in question has ever written about this. Howcome reminiscent all of a sudden?

Anonymous said...

:) :) :)

Sidhusaaheb said...

A rail-fan's baaraat (wedding-procession) had to be on a train. :D

Nishtha Kanal said...

hahaha super interesting read!