Follow the crowd, eh?

Was reminded of the “adventure” of our Lucknow trip today. George, Apurva, Priya, Sayantani and myself were there. Caught one of the local trains from Kanpur to Lucknow. Had underestimated the time required for reaching there. Nevertheless, had enough time to explore the Imambada to our satisfaction and also to visit a chiken factory. The photographs are there on my homepage.

But this was not where the real fun was. We took a train back to Kanpur at around 8.00 pm, after having a good meal at a fairly good restaurant. Sometime past 10 pm, the train stopped at Unnao station. Nothing sounded unusual, since it is a regular stoppage, until we realized the train is standing there for more than half an hour. Them some people started getting off the train. On enquiry it appeared that there were some problems in the track near Kanpur. So, the train might be delayed. Fine, we thought, and decided to follow the crowd out of the station. But soon we realized that the crowd we were trying to follow had vanished and we were leading the remaining crowd now.

We tried to enquire about buses and taxis and it appeared that no buses can be expected now and the taxi stand was closed. After asking few more people, someone suggested that we should go to some chauraha (circle) from where we could catch a tempo. We asked him them the way to the chauraha and he showed us a street which would take us there. We ventured into the street to find that complete darkness was prevailing. It was a narrow one anyway and it seems roadside shops had covered the little sky above with their plastic roofs as well. No light and we were making our way through it. It was so dark and we were so clue-less, that we decided to follow Apurva’s suggestion that we should actually shout our names at some interval to let others know that we are there! Anyway, as we came out of the street we found a chauraha and assumed that it was the one those people were talking about. But when we asked some people there about the chauraha, it turned out that the particular chauraha we were looking for was few kilometers ahead and it would have been quite a tough task for our tired souls and bodies to actually walk up to there. But then people assured that we can expect to get some tempo there too. But by this time enough crowd had reached there. Few tempos came, but it was impossible for us to make our way through that crowd. We decided to go back to the station and try to find out if there is a possibility of trains restarting. This time when we entered the street, fortunately the light had come and it was not so bad to reach back the station. We asked the guy on the ticket counter, but he was not sure as to what the reason was and how much time would it take. There weren’t any other officials available at that time. It was already past midnight by now. The fun of it all was that we were not at all tense, rather enjoying the whole sequence. The only problem was that one of us was supposed to receive a call from home in the morning. If we could not reach the hostel till, there would be quite a bit of fuss. Calling up at home from there would be no less dangerous. Anyway, probably we would call up in the morning. We started “contemplating” over the reasons while we sipped the tea. Many a reasons came up, including the one in which George proposed that it was because of me that the whole problem has been there. I was the one who did not want to return from Lucknow the same day. So, probably I fitted the time-bomb on the Kanpur station before leaving in the morning. But what I failed to take into account was the fact that there would be time-lag between the event happening and news reaching Lucknow. So, the news did not reach while we were still in Lucknow and we had to stop at Unnao.

While all this was going on we realized that another train had stopped on the station. We thought we better rush to the chauraha, before this other crowd reaches there. We decided to take a rickshaw to the chauraha which was farther, so as to get a tempo easily. The rickshaw wala asked for quite a big amount (I can’t recall what exactly it was), but we agreed given the situation and also we thought he will take us to the chauraha, which was far. We were for a shock when he asked us to get down at the same chauraha we had reached earlier (taking a different route) and refused to go any further! But probably the bad times were over. We found an empty tempo coming, paid the rickshaw whatever he asked for and boarded the tempo. It was not to remain so comfortable for long though. Soon, there were 14 people at the back side of the tempo (5 on each of the seats and 4 on the floor). Proportional number at the front also, I am sure! I also realized soon that the glass on the window on my side was non-existent! And hence I had to reach Kanpur taking the pleasure of cold “breeze”, the only problem being it was night in the month of January! Anyway, somehow we managed to reach Kanpur station on that tempo. It was still another tempo and 45 minutes before we could reach the campus and lie down and sleep off peacefully!

The time did come, but left us wondering, how could Robert Frost write, “Miles to go before I sleep”. He was not with us on that journey!

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