A journey (I)

I never like to travel in summer seasons but according to the life schedules summer is the time I had to travel most of the time. The time our college closes coincides with the onset of monsoons rains and vacations, I crave to go home. But, the rainy seasons freak me out; heavy rainfall and roads are the dangerous factors that make me sick of travelling.

So to narrate one of my journeys in one vacation;
The exam was over, and everybody was busy packing things. And finally, after few hours everybody got ready. Everybody? All things packed up, we were ready to ride to the train station. Two of our friends came back with two autos.

Everyone was ready until we were about to leave the college! Some friends were returning from the city while some were still working on their hairstyles and dress codes! We had tickets of a train which would leave an hour later and unluckily the way to the station requires the same amount of time; any mistake in time, we would miss the train. We should have been halfway through that time. But then some friends do not turn up like you expect them to. Two of the friends didn't turn up on time while some of us where already seated on the autos. The auto driver was worried that he would not make on time, and that he would not make us on time. The tensed driver insisted to leave the college leaving our friends back there. That’s the awkward situation; you do not know to whom you have to show your frustrations! There, everyone was furious, so furious that some friends didn't turn on time, and the auto drivers insist on going without the two of them! We could wait for a while but it was already getting late! Any jam in the traffic means we miss our train. Some of us got in and loaded bags onto it. The auto began to move immediately as we put our bags in, two of us managed to get in.

Tempa Gyeltshen (on his way to the station)
After a while, before the start of our journey a brawl started! A friend was mad at those friends who couldn't make on time and that the driver started to crawl his auto before he got onto it. He ran after the thing suddenly banged on the floor as he got hold of it but that annoyed the already mad man. The two were exchanging words like anything but the funny part is neither of them understood one another! The two got settled after few minutes, and there comes the late guys!

After waiting for around twenty minutes, we could start the journey finally. The journey was awful with everybody frowning to the dusty open air. To our noisy ears, we heard the announcement; “The train will be late for half an hour” upon reaching the station!

“What the hell is happening”, said one of my friends. There, we arranged ourselves for a rest and while some bought magazines, and cubes to play with.  And some took a cup of hot coffee each trying to calm themselves while others flipped the pages of the glossy magazines.

 At seven, we boarded our train. As we settled on the compartment, excitements slowly ran into their eyes and their frowning faces. I was excited to see our college which we could see from the train. Gempo was next to me looking out the door and a smile was beautifully curved on him! We were smiling and watching the lit city left behind. It was looking beautiful that night!

In front of the Allahabad Station
The cab was empty and we settled ourselves in that for adjustments. Three from us should be seating in the next compartment but then we adjusted in one. Some friend slept while few of us remained awake chatting over silly things that we did in the college.  I was one among the three who just occupied some one’s seat! We were crawling in the Bihar state with the moon smiling down at the long snake. The train came to a halt slowly after sometime!

A family board the same compartment; a mother, her son and a daughter. It was their seat which we just occupied. Ngawang politely approached them for exchange of seats but to no avail. The stout mother was stubborn and rude! Her daughter was helplessly explaining in English to us that we were on their seats. She was as stubborn as her mother! She was trying to explain that they would occupy half the compartment and that we occupy the other half which we denied because all the three seats did not belong to them. We objected that and gave them their own seats. It wasn't their fault but then she must at least consider the request or otherwise make us understand in a polite way. After all, like someone said, ‘Politeness matters.’

Means of survival! Some people come begging in the train as if they can’t work for themselves while some other comes as robbers. They order and force the passengers to give them “Money”. They wake those guys who are peacefully sleeping and puzzle them with their different facial expressions. Some come and sell duplicate items while some men come dressed as women and force the male passengers to pay them otherwise threatening them with force. They come as if they are fee collectors and demand money from the passengers.  They are for sure richer than many of the passengers since they got a standard to beg too! They refuse when given less than Rs. 10 Note.

A friend narrated shortly after a group of them left our compartment. “Once it happened that my friend didn't know those guys. He was asked to give money but he denied. Suddenly, one of them tried to grab his groin. He was taken aback. And he came to me all white.”

Mahanada Express Train crawling the Indian WB plains
The dawn embraced the plain when I was just through first quarter of my newly bought book. The morning was so early! I couldn't even finish reading fife small chapters from the book, The Da Vinci Code. Then, I slept finally making my friends guard our bags. It was about eleven when I woke up. It was the rushing people walking by our compartment to theirs. We were in another station. There, a Frenchman comes in. We introduced ourselves one another. And then the journey became more interesting, sharing and learning the different cultures as we chatted the second night!   We were talking a lot about our own countries and the uniqueness of the home. It was so fascinating when he talked about mountain climbing and surfing. I wished I was him yet I had to regret that I was doing so even when I am a citizen of a mountainous country; the Land of Thunder Dragon-Bhutan. How I wished to climb the Himalaya and surf in the Indian oceans! Before so soon, it was evening. We ordered our dinner, “Four veg, four non-veg and four with eggs.”

I dosed of in the process since many were interested in sharing their stories and hobbies. I wasn't a good listener after all. Sometime later, I woke up just to find that they had their dinner already. “Oi, we had our share. Climb down and have the dinner.” One of my friends told me. To my dismay, my dinner wasn't there. Some body ate mine; which was veg food and left non-veg! I remained hungry until the next station.

I was lost in through the glasses watching the scene outside when Gempo let out a cough to signify his presence.
 “Hey, you hungry?” Gempo asked.
“Nope”, I told him yet I had to frequently take water to subside my acidity.
“I couldn't ask why I was given different dinner. I saw them taking eggs while I was given without it. But somehow I managed to snatch one from my friends”, Gempo let out jokingly.

The train began slowly again from that station. The Frenchman invited his newly met Australian friend who was a music lover. Sonam and Gempo, who were interested in the same thing played some tunes and old country songs with guitar. The compartment was in a full swing, friends enjoying singing along them. The night became so awesome with their entertainment.

It was so short journey together. However, they could leave something inside us. The journey was awesome then! It was NJP station where we departed. Battery finished, self-exhausted, sat slowly on the seat again for the next ‘go’. Then it was again those “chakas” who came and forced us to give them money as if that’s the only thing that they can do to earn.

Sonam and Sangay (Hasimara)
Finally at Hasimaraha, we dropped out. All tired of the long journey, we shambled with slouches and heavy steps dragging our bags to lounge on the cold concrete benches. No Taxis  It was just three in the morning! We had to wait for three hours and hired two autos.  In an hour, they reached us the border gate, which read, “Welcome to Bhutan” and the faces gleamed with loving smiles; a hint of mad excitements.

(to be contnd..)