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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Trip of a lifetime

The first images that come to my mind when I think about the trip to Orissa are those of my mom and sister crying as Howrah Express pulled off platform no 4 from Trivandrum Central station. Wish I could just go back to that day now! That’s how the eventful journey to Paradeep started. I had booked a 3rd AC berth because it had been a long time since I had travelled in an AC compartment and I was very hopeful that a company that recruits an engineer with a salary of 20k will surely reimburse the travel expenses. The decision proved to be a bad one because for most part of the day the compartment was empty. People did get in at stations, but they weren’t there for the entire journey. So they saw no point in making acquaintances with me. So by the time the train reached Ernakulam South station I had seen 3 people come and sit opposite me with not a single word uttered between us. So out of my curiosity I went and checked the passengers name list outside the train when it halted @ South station. I found that till the next morning no one was going to be ther with me. I slept peacefully that day and it was good to sleep in AC. There was no noise or a sudden rush of air when the doors opened as in Sleeper.

The next day morning saw me getting to Chennai Central, the train had a long halt ther. More than 40 mins. By that time my fellow passengers had arrived. The batch consisted of a mother, daughter and son and the grandchild. The kid or rather infant was my best companion for the next day. Even though I didn’t know his name for a full day it was quite fun to see him jump onto my lap. Mostly people spent time sleeping in the compartment.

Finally the next day morning the train pulled into Cuttack station at around 8:30AM. Way too late from its scheduled 7:00AM. I missed the passenger train because of the delay and decided to get into a bus and went towards the auto stand. That proved to be a big mistake as the auto drivers in this part of the country rarely get any single customer and make their living out of the poor soul who dares to catch an auto all for himself. I had to pay Rs 40 for a journey hardly 2 kms away from the station. All he did was take me over a flyover and put me in front of a bus stop, which I later learnt was on the other side of the station and I could have made it on foot. This was nothing compared to what was to come in the day.

The buses or rather, mini buses came and almost all of them were full of people, I had the knowledge that my destination was about 100 km away and the journey took around 3 hours. By 9AM a bus came which was less crowded and had a board saying it was a non-stop till Paradeep. I boarded the bus and parted with my luggage which was stowed into the carriers on top. By the time I got into the bus, the only empty seat was the one opposite the driver. I got into that seat and frankly was in no way prepared to bear what the roads of a STATE HIGHWAY could do to me.

The contractor who built the road seems to have a special adoration to place speed breakers at every 200-300 mts. Their objective isn’t fulfilled in any way but they sure cause a big discomfort to the passengers and the vehicles too. The bus went without any stops for the 1st half of the journey, and I was very happy seeing that there were only 42 kms left by 10:15 AM. I thought I’ll be in my office by 11AM. Just as this thought was creating a happy mood in my mind, I saw the bus stop at a junction and the driver got out. The bus was stopped there for 15 mins. I got anxious and with my best hindi I managed to ask the conductor who said that this was a MAJOR stop. I just saw a set of shops and a vegetable market. People got down from the bus and had tea, smoked cigs and some event went to the market and bought what they needed. After a good 25 mins were passed the NON STOP again started and on it went.

By the time it was midday I got worried if I’ll ever reach my plant. I asked the driver “Aur kitna time lagega IFFCO tak pahuchneme?” He replied something in oriya which sounded like, “STFU”. After this I didn’t dare ask a question to the driverJ. Finally by 1230 PM I saw the sign of IFFCO in green background over the horizon. The driver then showed me with a smile and again said something in Oriya. The guy sitting next to me had woken up from his sleep by now and explained in hindi “Lo aa gaya aapka stop”.

I got down at the junction which had a BIG sign of the company( wish I had a camera, one pic to show the sign and another to show the relief on my face) and a 4 laned road leading towards a gate. When I looked around for an auto I didn’t find any. Due to the heat and the blowing winds I thought that the distance was small and I could walk the whole way with two big bags.

So I walked and walked and finally after what seemed like more than 2-2.5 kms I reached a security gate. The security allowed me in after I showed the offer letter. After this when I asked him about the location of the office he just showed his hand towards the road. After walking for about 500-600 mts I reached a building which had a sign saying GET Hostel. I got in and saw another guy with 3 bags and the person at the reception allotted both of us into one room. We walked to the room with the key and got into a pretty ok sorta room. This was to be my home away from home for the next year.

More about hostel life, the food and the new friends I made in posts to come……………

2 comments:

monsooner said...

>> Abhi
New turf, new smells, new life and newer experiences
...Happy living! :D

Hari said...

So the big man's all set to rock the small town!! :D All the best tackling those new facets & avenues of life!