Missed the station!

Photo by Nikhil Pillai / Unsplash

We have all missed our trains, flights, or buses or at the least if you are a punctual person, you would have heard about it. I have missed my buses a lot of times, but there had been an interesting time when I had missed a station! Now that sounds a little weird isn’t it? Yes, it happened to me!

Hot afternoon at Thrissur Railway Station sometime in March, 2006. After a quick day trip to the home and a heavier wallet, was gooing back to hostel. It was a 7 hour long journey from Thrissur to Kasaragod. During the summer afternoons, it was not a very comfortable journey for the first four hours because of two reasons – the heat and the crowd. Parasuram Express comes roaring into the station, the diesel-electric throwing up a cloud of coal-black smoke. Passengers and vendors start running behind the train as if their life will end if they don’t. With considerable difficulty, got into the hot and humid compartment, wishing the train to start so that the wind blows away the heat. The train normally remains fully crowded till the next major station of Shoranur, which happens to be one of the busiest station in India.

I was lucky at last to catch a seat when a group of passengers left 4 rows of seat empty. I preferred bunking the day’s lunch coz those days never used to feel comfortable eating with a train full of people staring! Now got a seat and I neither had an iPod nor mp3 compatible phone at the time. So my journey was pretty much spent in listening to people and watching the scenery. But don’t know how, time used to fly then. The train started slowing down and everyone knew the next station was “Pattambi”. But I had no clue that this place will be the reason for my ordeal! The train halted an there was the usual outgoing and incoming of the passengers. Usually this place being a small station, the train halts for a minute or so. But this day the minute seemed extend longer. Two minutes, Five minutes, ten minutes and passengers started noticing that Pattambi was stationary for a long time.

Half an hour passed, still no trace of any movement. People started making up theories. I was still hoping that another train might be crossing, so we are held back. But when one by one five trains crossed right before my eyes, I was thinking that our train was little too generous to give way to so many a number of trains. Someone from somewhere said that some maintenance  of the tracks were going on and that was causing the delay. At last, it was a good two and a half hour before the train finally pulled out of the station. Now along with other delays, this meant that i will reach Kasaragod good three hours late, i.e 10:30 in place of my usual 07:30. That would be pretty late for a small town like Kasaragod. the place is not lively like Bangalore, but is known for other reasons as such.

The train pulled into Kannur station around 8:45. This was the major station before Kasaragod. It again started its journey at 9:00 pm and my calculation seemed correct. It takes one and a half hours from Kannur to Kasaragod. So around 10:30 I should be at my destination. With this hope, I thought I will take a nap. Was really tired and weary. I had good long 90 minutes! I drifted off to sleep. Beautiful music in my ears. Very soft and soothing initially.  But then shooting up to something like a thunderous roar as if some metal beast is tearing and gnashing its teeth across heavy iron bars.

With a sudden jerk, I woke up! The scene was very much like those in a horror movie or something. The whole compartment was empty! The train was roaring and whizzing at top speed. Anxiously I looked at my watch. It said – 10:35 ! Sudden shock wave through my spine! I had no clue if the station has passed or is yet to come. All I could do was to stare at the dark terrain and see if I could see a trace of any station ahead. Nothing… nothing at all! After Kasaragod, the train crosses border over to Karnataka into Mangalore. Suddenly I could see a faint outline of a station in distance approaching at blinding speed. I was pretty much convinced it was not my destination as the train was pretty fast and it would be a hell of a sudden brake to stop it there. I tried to read the yellow board with the name of the station. I was horrified!

Kumbla! – the station that comes right after Kasaragod. I realized that I was heading towards Mangalore now. Called up my roomates. One of them said – I clearly remember these words spoken more than five years back – “Enjoy monay!” Yeah all is well! Train pulled up at Managlore and I got down to the platform with nowhere to go. I was very hungry and all the hotels were closed at 11:00 and it was 11:30 now. Got some cool drinks and some eatables from a bakery. I was getting frustrated at the thought of spending the whole night here. I was wishing I could sleep in the warmth of my own comfy bed! But no chance and the mosquitoes were buzzing around me.

But I couldn’t help smiling at the thought – “I missed my STATION!”

The best part is, before morning I almost missed my station twice.

Image: Sreejithk2000, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vishnu Padmanabhan

Vishnu Padmanabhan