Saturday, August 15, 2009
Travel - Part4 - Reaching Rameswaram
Somebody had said "Journey is Reward", but when the journey is a continuous 56 hrs , then I do have to think a lot. For the uninitiated ones I measure these travel times as the times between I get an opportunity to bath !!. Reaching Rameswaram was a 3 part journey from Shirdi to Pune, Pune to Chennai and then a link train to Rameswaram.
When our bus started from Shirdi it was around 10am , according to my research and travel agency this bus journey to Pune was supposed to take only 6 hours and we were supposed to catch a train for Chennai at 5:30 pm. There was some small incidence with the travel agency guys and this resulted in a bit of my ego getting hurt and melting away, but that resulted in a comfortable journey for us !!. The weather in Shirdi was wet and it was a very refreshing. Soon
when we got out from Shirdi and the road undoubtedly was good, the bus was smoothly cruising in midst of freshly sown fields and some of them with some greenery. It was raining lightly and the air was quite cool, the experience was just like it was a hill station. Pretty soon far away in the background mountains began to appear. This was the time when I really felt that this vacation was a good idea and I was going all gaga about it.
I was enjoying every moment of the scenery , weather and my state of mind also. What maybe did not cross my mind at that time , but was stinging me like a gadfly before was that I always believe that if we get something easily without struggling then that thing is not really worth it or alternative it is not so productive. Till now things had gone smoothly, it was hard to believe that GOD's were in a mood to play a little Humour with me. Suddenly I saw a bit far away a big mountain coming up and I got a feeling of something going wrong when I saw some vehicles on road of that mountain , pretty soon I could make out that they were actually stationary. Meaning we got a jam on the mountains !!! That's a deadly combo , even then I found I was
not feeling in any hurry. Every minute delay means our tight schedule schedule was getting even tighter. I had got what I wanted. . With the jam not showing any chance of lifting up , since the vehicles from opposite side were just not coming. My brain impulsively went to damage control and alternate planning mode. I thought that I will reach Rameswaram if we missed the train,
by taking bus to Hyderabad , then to Chennai and then to Rameswaram. I was just not willing to bog down and I thought that I will do whatever it takes to reach the destination. Gradually but painfully slowly the bus started moving for a small distance from time to time. Actually this narrow mountain road got this terrible jam because a long trailer (and I guess more than one) got damaged at a sharp turning, resulting in chocking the two lane road to a single lane. Well was that a coincidence that this road which never had a jam , got one on this fateful day, i guess so !. It took us finally 2 hours to get out of this mess, and then came the part which I hate the most , suspense. It was like an IPL match , runs vs deliveries left. Here the case was hours vs Km. I was literally counting every milestone and being totally hopeful that we would make it to the train in time. The suspense were on growing and surprisingly all the way through I still believed we would catch the 5:30 train. So it was already around 5:15 when the bus dropped us
at a bus stop which was also at some distance from the Railway station, we got a 3 wheeler immediately and by the time we reached the Station, it was already around 5:32 and it took some minutes to get to the platform , and then we heard the message that out train is arriving at right time at 6:00 pm. Now that was a real surprise. We checked our ticket and found that it was indeed 6 pm not 5:30. Had it been 5:30 and would the train had been right time, we would have easily missed it. I heaved a long sigh of relief. Soon the train came and I happily boarded it. So even with preety descent planning , it all boiled down to the fancy of GOD.
The Train journey started and it was in general inconsequential. Except one thing, at some station before Ranigutta(where people alight for Tirupti) the train had to slow down and stop at some station for about an hour. When the train started again, we got to know that the the tracks were being repaired hence this delay ,but surprise was the fact that when train reached Ranigutta , but was just 10-15 min late , meaning some smart guy in Railways had anticipated this delay and did some positive correction for it well in advance. So we reached Chennai Central at nearly right time. The next train was from Chennai Egmore Railway station and we had 3 hours before that.
We reached Egmore in a three wheeler, the first task at our hand was to confirm that we had reached the right place and our train will be leaving from here. Next we went to the Reservation counter to get one ticket canceled. I was a bit elated as well as amused to find the total difference in the way the queues were formed . In here there was no queue that I had known earlier, the queue was formed by sitting peoples. When the front chairs became empty ,the peoples in the next row used to come and occupy them and so on. This was a surprise so as to say and I justified the behavior of people because of a mere presence of a policeman. Had he not been there , there wouldn't have been such a civilized show of behavior.
Later we occupied the Waiting room and I went out looking for a shave. While I was roaming outside and around railway station, a boy(visibly poor) aged around 10 stopped and asked me in Hindi, where I was from (in a dialect that seemed like Maharastrian). I thought he would like to ask for way to some place. Then when I replied in Hindi , he told that his father has been lost and he and his mother needs to go to Mumbai , and they have no money for buying a train ticket !! Now as a rule I don't give alms, reason being that I believe that if you give money to a beggar than he may use it for some wrong and probably anti-social activity and you will be a partner in that. But here I don't know why I felt that this was a time I should change my rules. It appeared that those guys were indeed a needy case. So after some waiting(i was pretending to be thinking) I handed over Rs 100 to that boy, then her mother said , we can't do with this only give us more , I was confused and instead of those two I was the one feeling helpless(because I couldn't decide if I was doing right or wrong), I looked up to the sky and said to heavens, I am giving money to these people because of you, now you decide if it goes to good or bad. With that I gave the boy Rs 50 more. It happened just then that a taxi driver intervened, I could barely understand what he wanted to say in Tamil but I got that part that he wanted this women and her child to be taken to police, I went further and grabbed the arm of the boy who was trying to get away with her mother. The taxi driver told me to take them to ticket counter and buy them a ticket. I aggread and asked them to return the money and I offered to buy them tickets instead. They were shocked at the intervention of taxi driver and I realized I was being tricked and had been almost been dumped. So I went ahead with more conviction and got my money back. I later thanked the taxi driver a lot. After that I was really feeling very disappointed , that how I allowed myself to get into such an embarrassing situation . Now after that I did change my rules concerning alms
"Charity is not for people who have not got the time to see through their money being spend well.Never ever give money as alms. It is always better and safe to pay in kind rather than cash to beggars".
Then after having a taste of Chennain food we safely boarded the Rameswaram Express.
When I woke up in the morning , in the far end , I could see tree line meaning we were closing in on to the Pamban Bridge.
I was really exited about Pamban Bridge or Indira Gandhi Bridge. I had read a lot about it and my imagination was that, when the train would be over the bridge it would really be scary with the bridge just like a thin straw , and the train slowly chugging ahead, with the constant feeling that a breeze will plunge the train into the ocean waters.
When the Bridge really came , it was great to see the ocean on both the sides and the narrow bridge with the train slowly moving ahead like a cautious juggler trying to balance itself on the rope.
I really liked the view there , both the rail bridge, the road bridge as well as the ocean. I did clicked a lot of pics. It was a place to visit again and again .
Then in no time the train reached its destination i.e. Rameswaram Station.
At the time of getting down , I had the usual feeling that finally I am in an unknown new place , will I be able to communicate well and go around the town in a normal way .