To begin with, I had no ticket. I had an e-ticket which stuck at WL6 the last day and so, it got cancelled automatically. I didn’t give it much thought as I had assumed since the train was superfast, the crowd would be less. But as soon as the trains’ wheel began to halt at Allahabad station, my assumption crumbled. The train was literally jam-packed, overflowing with people of all shapes, sizes, colour and of course different natures. It would indeed be a blessing if one could find a place to stand (forget about sitting). I jumped into a coach only to find out there was absolutely no place and popped back. The only good that came out of the whole exercise was the breaking of the handle of my suitcase (being sarcastic). Alright, no time to curse but to find a little less crowded coach (if there was one). Going left, nopes, all coaches were crowded even more. Going right, I think I am done for, but hey Wait there’s a little space in that coach. Let’s board it.
Boarding and breaking of handle was only the beginning. Then, as soon as I occupied the area, it was time to face the heat from the reserved passengers (never mind, the 3 o’clock Allahabadi heat). There was this aunty who tried real hard to ward me off saying “I am not getting enough air” with fake gasps. I resorted to every non-ticketers line, “Bas thodi der, phir chala jaoonga”. Believe me, if anyone says this line to you, he isn’t planning to move. After standing for more than two hours or so, all my enthu and energy drained in sweat. I started seeking some place rather, people who would let me share their seat and after rolling my vision, I found an upper berth which was only occupied with luggage (not passengers). I asked the Marwari family, shifted the luggage a bit and settled myself at the edge. I could could feel the static strain developing in me.
This luxury (yes, luxury) was provided to me till 11 p.m. when their station came (and there goes my comfort) and another passenger boarded up, who was keen on sleeping himself (rather than letting his luggage :X :X). Fine. I was getting sleepy and the clock was already approaching the witch-hour.
So, I spread an old newspaper on the floor and sat on it using a sack containing onions as my back-support. Then I slept or rather say… attempted to sleep. During this whole time, I wished the TTE would come and scatter the crowd but I guess, the TTE wouldn’t dare face this much crowd.
Status quo continued till it was 3 A.M. An aunty realized my discomfiture and allowed me to sit on a part of her berth. It was not easy. I had to flash many friendly smiles the previous day in her direction and also, my college shirt did create an impression of ‘bechara’. Finally, at the first ray of Sun, the crowd subsided.
After a while, a fat black-coated uncle came. Luckily, I was helping a family to shift their luggage. He enquired about my ticket and I said, “Its inside, I am coming”. I stood for a few extra moments making sure that luggage got comfortably deboarded (most importantly, TTE goes away). Luckily, the TTE had crossed my squatted seat by the time I returned. Acha, gone for good. I feared he or some other TTE may return but thankfully, none did.
It was only three hours left to reach my destination. Ah, TTE will not come now. Oops, I spoke too soon (speak of the devil) as suddenly a TTE appeared, but seeing a novel in my hand, simply passed off. (I wonder why people don’t read novels). I just looked down aisle and saw another TTE approaching. He gave an aura of more strictness. Rushing to the door of another coach, I stood for nearly half an hour and by that time, the black storm had passed.
And to my luck, there were no more hurdles in reaching back to my home city. To summarize, I endured a heavy crowded coach in a hot weather, sat at a single place for nearly 5 hours, spent a sleepless night, i.e. on a floor and sack as pillow, escaped TTE thrice. I did say quite a journey.
Now why was it worth??
It was because I was going to Home and was going to meet my Mom & Dad…