Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mumbai to Chennai

March 27 - 11:00 PM

The day was here. Train was to leave from Mumbai CST to Chennai in another 3 hours. Finally, the wait was almost over. But there was a very SMALL problem. 5 guys and 4 tickets. :) But this problem wasn't going to deter us. We had been through many such problems earlier.

All this while, Atul was under the impression that Ali wasn't coming and Ali assuming that Atul hadn't cancelled his ticket. Except for us 4, who were to board the train from CST, Atul decided to board the train from the Thane station.

12:30 PM

We found our seats, dumped our baggage, and got comfortable trying to soak the cool air conditioned compartment air after the hot and sultry Mumbai heat had sapped our energy. But this was not time to relax. We had a mission in hand. So hardly a minute later, we were back trying to come up with ideas on accommodating Atul in our compartment. And this was not easy with none of us having this kind of experience.

Signal turned green, train left the platform and we thought it’s time to tell Atul that he had to board the train ticket-less while we managed to cook up an idea. Given the hyper nature of Atul, none wanted to take a chance of calling him. Meanwhile, we struck a conversation with an elderly helpful couple just seated next to us for some expert advice. Uncle was of the opinion that Atul should buy a platform ticket and board the train. (*Not sure how this might have helped.*)

Then someone was struck with another brilliant idea - Calling Thakur's mom and asking her to reserve a ticket for us. (*Thakur's mom worked with Indian Railways and could use her priority quota to book us a ticket. What she did not know was, we were asking for a ticket of the same train which had already started its journey. (*A Little late?? Huh???*) :D

So in just 10 minutes, we 4 who thought of enjoying our journey were now busy on calls trying to arrange ONE ticket for our dear friend Atul. While Baiyya was speaking to Thakur's mom, Ali was speaking to the couple; Anna called up the soon-to-be bridegroom Kandu, the man for whom we were all travelling in the first place. He was asked to book an e-ticket but little did we know that the tickets cannot be booked once the train is already on its journey.

I was given the task of calming the hyperactive Atul and trying him to convince to board the train while others trying their luck in getting a ticket which now looked so much valuable like a winning lottery ticket. As the train was inching towards Thane station, all started getting more impatient. Ali then thought of a drastic step - sacrificing his seat for Atul. But then wise Bhaiyya spoke up - "You getting down won't make a difference as the ticket does not have Atul's name. So anyways Atul is gonna be in trouble."

Finally the train arrived at Thane station and as soon as we got down, we were blasted off by Atul. He was angry as we did not inform him that Ali was coming. Funny - isn’t it? He was the one who cancelled his ticket even after not being asked to and then we were getting blamed for all the mess. :)

Somehow, we convinced him to get inside the train and leave it on us to get him a ticket. Our plans of making him travel ticket-less didn’t seem so brilliant at this moment. After all, it’s not an hour journey where we can manage to hoodwink the Ticket Collector. We had to spend the next 28 hours in this compartment. It was not easy.

By now, apart from us 4, Kandu, his dad, his mom, his sis and his jiju, Thakur's mom were all aware of our adventure :)

Run out of all possible ideas, we decided to take the path of righteousness. We decided to approach the TC before he comes on his way punishing the defaulters and it was decided that Bhaiyya and Ali will do the talking as they were well aware of the train terminologies. Atul, I and Anna were supposed to be standing back rendering support. But, somehow Atul managed to sneak through and got talking and when he talks, the other person can only interrupt. :)

And soon, Atul managed to convince or should i say confuse the TC to consider his unusual case of getting in the train ticket-less. He assured that he will get him a ticket once he completes checking tickets of all passengers. That brought smiles back on our faces and almost an end to the adventure and entertainment to which all our co-passengers were subjected to :)

Soon after, Atul managed to get a 2 AC ticket for himself for a paltry fine of Rs. 90/-. Train was approaching Pune and we started to feel a sense of time. The most exciting 3 hours of the journey were over and our journey to Chennai had just started.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chennai Superstars

28 hours before the Chennai Trip -

My mobile rings. I answer the call.
Me: "Hello"
Other end: "Acha... What time is the train?"
(I smiled to myself. This could be none other than Atul. No hi.. no hello... direct to the topic..)
Me: "I need to confirm with Bhaiyya (not referring to my brother - but Sanjith) and also I think Ali might not be able to make it though he is still to confirm."
Atul: "Should I cancel my ticket?" (When the tickets were booked, Bhaiyya had got confirmation from only 4. Atul was the 5th to make his decision to join us for Kandu's wedding in Chennai. So, he was supposed to be travelling in the 2nd class while we managed to secure our AC 3 Tier)
Me: "Hold on. Let Ali confirm. Don't cancel your ticket until I ask you to."
Atul: (Hyper as usual) "Thik hai. I will call you tomorrow to confirm."
Me: Okey dokey then. Bye.
Atul: --- (disconnected. No bye. I wasn't surprised. After all he doesnt believe in exchanging pleasantries over the phone.)

Next day - 1:00 PM

My phone rings again. I see Atul's name flashing on the screen.

Me: "Haan bol Atul." (learning to start conversations without Hi hellos from the master himself)
Atul: "Did Ali call you up? Is he coming? Should i cancel my ticket?"
Me: "I told you right. Don't cancel your ticket. I will let you know if you need to. Anyways let me speak to Ali. I will give you a call by 2:00 and let you know."
Atul: OK (Call disconnects)

2:45 PM

I call up Atul after having a conversation with Ali.
Me: "Ali hasn't still confirmed. So hold on to your horses."
Atul: (in frustrated tone)"I cancelled my ticket."
Me: (even more frustrated) "Kisne bola hero banne? What did I keep telling you? And why are u always in such a hurry?"
Atul: "You were supposed to call me by 2:00. So when you did not... I cancelled my ticket."
Me: "Great. Wonderful. I have nothing to say."
Atul: "Ok"
Me: "See you tomorrow at CST" (CST was the station where we were supposed to board the train to Chennai)

I thought to myself. Wow. What a start. Everything was so well planned unlike everytime. Tickets booked. Leaves approved. All set. All we had to do was get up tomorrow and board the train from CST. Next one week was gonna be all fun. But then we all love adventures and uncertainties on our trips. So our trip was incomplete without some last moment adventures. And this time Atul had set his mind to provide some of it to us.

Next part - What happens next? 4 tickets - 5 guys. How did we reach?
Coming Soon... :)