Thursday, April 23, 2009

"of near misses,of hop skip jump on a moving train"

Experience is everything- be it hopping on to a moving train, standing alone in an eerie platform or even hoping the flight I’m booked on is delayed- yes, you read it right-delayed because the traffic snarl near the airport has me sitting at the edge of the seat of my perfectly still car….My travel stories aren’t all tumultuous but I have to share a few interesting incidents that I’ve relived over the years,some with a smile and some with a shudder !

I think it was in 1992 or 1993.I had to board a train to Madurai one evening.I had a TV recording that morning which got delayed beyond unexpected time limits.I finally managed to finish the recording and rush to the station directly from the studios.It was a 200m sprint towards the platform !! I reached the platform,only to find the train just starting to move ! I managed to make a dash into the guard van :-). It took a while for me to recollect my wits. Had to hang around there till the train reached the next major station where I alighted from the guard van and went to my coach. A frightful experience that was !!

This happened after a concert near Vishakhapatnam in 1994 or 1995. I was traveling alone and reached the station around 11.30 p.m to board a train to Chennai. On taking out the ticket,to my horror,I discovered that the date on the ticket was wrong!! It showed that date, while it should have been booked for the next day,since I was going to board the train after midnight..I was at a loss,didn't know what to do. Thankfully,there was still ample time for the train to arrive.I rushed to the ticket counter(which was thankfully open at that late hour) and bought an open ticket. The train arrived and in the three minutes that I had, I pleaded with the ticketing officer for a vacant berth.It took him a full 40 seconds to check all his charts and finally find one vacant berth.In the next 20 seconds,I paid the extra amount and bought a fresh ticket.It was yet another 100m sprint for me within the next 120 seconds:-).This experience was a good lesson for me-after this incident,I have always made it a point to check the date and time of boarding the train. This midnight travel time can sometimes be very tricky:-)

This was again another concert trip to a small town in Andhra.I was traveling alone. I happily slept away and missed my station! This was in the "pre-mobile phone era" ! The person who had come to pick me up from the station got very worried since he didn't find me at the station. He called home to check if I had boarded the train and immediately everyone got perturbed!! In the meanwhile,I got up and on enquiring with a co-passenger,I was horrified to find that I had gone past the station where I should have alighted. The next small station came into sight only forty minutes later. Those forty minutes looked like 50 years to me!! There was no way of informing anyone what had happened. I got down at this sleepy small station and discovered that the next train(for me to take in the opposite direction to retrace my way)would come only after one hour. On enquiring further, I learnt that there were no buses either. So this seemed to be the only way out. I then went in search of a telephone booth,called the organizer, called home and explained everything to everyone!! Finally managed to reach my hotel room around noon !!

Taking connecting trains is always a risky proposition.But we are forced to do such things many times, since we are left with no other option after finishing a concert.Such a thing happened at Vijayawada station. We were a group of three.Our train reached Vijayawada station about ten minutes late and as our train entered the station, we found the last bogie of Pinakini Express(from Vijayawada to Chennai) just leaving from the next platform. It was too late and we stood on the platform wondering what to do..Vijayawada being a busy junction, we were sure that there would be some way out.Then some train from somewhere in the North happened to come a few hours later.We somehow managed to get three tickets on that train and reached Chennai safe and sound:-)

I can go on and on with such experiences but let me just recount one more experience:
After my concert at Udupi,we traveled by road to Bangalore and I had to take a flight to Chennai from Bangalore. The luxury bus had a flat tyre somewhere about three hours away from Bangalore.We took an auto to a taxi stand, managed to find a taxi that would take our group of four to Bangalore. By the time we reached outer Ring Road in Bangalore, traffic started moving at a snail's pace and I knew for sure that I would miss my flight. Mobile phones came to our rescue-the organizers immediately got my tickets changed and I managed to catch another flight in the afternoon to Chennai. So this particular travel had almost all modes of transport-by air, by bus, by auto and taxi:-)

These experiences have taught me various things- resilience, how to remain calm amidst chaos and probably most important of all- that travel is actually a lot of fun.I often think wistfully,that if only I had the time to explore the sights, sounds and the intriguing characteristics of every place I visit....


Sathej said...

Well, quite some experiences - all those! :) Resilience and calm amidst chaos - hmm..thats something I wish I had! Btw, must say, thats rather well written. Nice flow :)


Lion Man said...

that is all terribly exciting, but you can't say "all modes of transport", what about train, leave alone cycle rickshaw, bullock cart etc.

by the way, you never said whether you bought the ticket in that andhra train incident, in which you overslept and missed the station...

Revanth said...

Mrs.Gayathri. This post was very well written. I think Andhra has something for you :) looks like you had quite a few adventurous experiences in Andhra.

pushkala said...

very interesting read indeed. Traveling especially alone makes one very self confident (as long as we are not completely lost in unknown land). I can see how mobile phone gives a sense of security to us knowing that we can call anyone easily (again as long we have range!).

Gayathri Girish said...

Lion Man,
Ok ok, I will change it to "almost all modes"..Of course I bought a ticket:-).I am always a law-abiding citizen:-)

Thanks a lot:-).Yes,trips to Andhra have been adventurous many times, while two or three trips to Kerala have had different stories !! (Maybe that can be my next post!)

Hi !! Very true- range in mobile phones is very vital.We sometimes don't have it when we need it the most :-)

Traveling alone remarkably boosts one's confidence levels but sometimes can be quite scary too!(Once while taking a train from Trivandrum to another town in Kerala for a concert the next day,I found that I was the only passenger in that coach other than a man who looked like a drunkard.This was again in the pre-mobile phone era.I vividly remember even now how scary it was.No ticketing officer in sight.About twenty minutes later two patrolling officers (looked God-sent) came on their rounds.I immediately requested and got my ticket shifted to another coach which was filled with passengers.This certainly was a scary incident:-)


Priya Ram said...

Really Scary experiences. Take care of yourself dear Gayathri.Many of your fans look foward to enjoying your songs for many many years to come !! May God be with you always !

SAI<=>MUSIC said...

Great post!!! Really catchy writing style. I did not even feel like toggling between my tabs while reading it!!! Great going mam!!!

nagraj said...

This is perhaps the best narration posted by you till date. Believe, this is how a screen play is narrated by a successful film director before it is shot. Emotinoal touch here and there (like insecurity, loneliness) added colour to the flavour.

It is natural, when we come across trying situations, we seek to God. Does that have a remarkable impact on your rendition, bhava, rasa ?

Suresh V said...

Nice dramatic opening. You took us along on all those trips :-)