The train’s time from Jodhpur was 5.50 a.m. But we had to take the bike from the parking, submit it to luggage office and make sure it boards the train with us. So we left the hotel at 3.45 a.m. only. Paid the highest amount for least distance in my life! The rickshaw charge for around 1.5kms distance was 100 Rs! Guess we paid the rikshawala for his getting up early, and got the ride for free.
I woke up the fast asleep guard at the parking, and got hold of Vesta. I was bit worried how she would start; now that the kick was tied. Luckily, in 3-4 cranks of the starter, she roared to life and got on road. Me and Nandinee stationed ourselves in front of the luggage office, and started the tedious ritual of removing petrol from Vesta’s belly. This way turn, that way bend, this way tilt, that way push, after 20 agonizing minutes of heavy exercise that we finally stopped hearing the sound of petrol after the bike was shaken.
It was 4.30 a.m., and the luggage office which was supposed to open at 4.00 a.m. was still closed. The train was already warming itself up on the platform in front. Helped Nandinee board the train, and again got back to the office waiting for the staff. Finally found him sitting in the parcel office. Got the bike booked in real quick, and boarded on the train. The coolies on the station were haggling for some chai pani, so after a quick bargaining session at 5.15 a.m., paid them 60 bucks and finally settled in the train. Sleep had already taken control of me, and I don’t even remember when I climbed up the top rack and fell asleep!
I woke up to some pushing and prodding, to see Nandinee waking me up out of hunger.
“Aniruddha, there is no pantry car!”
“No pantry car!”
But this wasn’t a Garib Rath train not to have a pantry car! But the railway staff confirmed this, so we had to collect and accumulate food whenever opportunity arose. But later we realized that wasn’t actually necessary. The regulars on this train were used to this, and they had cards of hotels on the next stations. So they would just call the hotel and say “deliver 3 plates of lunch to coach B3 – seat 32-33 & 34 in Jodhur Pune express, which will arrive after 1.5 hours”, and the hotel would actually send the delivery boy with the packets!
The train waited a whooping 1 hour on Ahmedabad station. Had it been previously announced, we would see some spot or atleast go in some restaurant! When the train finally moved from Ahmadabad, we were convinced that we would reach Pune late, and not possible on scheduled time.
This was our last night outside home. Tomorrow we would finally sleep in our usual comfortable bed. The thought kept us warm and happy through the night.
…to be continued.