Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MacLeodganj Trip: Day 1, Part 2: Del-Pathankot

Get out of the airport by 9:15. NDLS scrapped; no way in hell we can make it. Plan B is a small place called Shakurbasti where the train will stop for precisely 1.5 mins... 40 mins from now. And no cabbie knows where it is.
Finally find someone who has a reasonable level of confidence that he can find it, pack up and go. Wow, it's the slowest cab in Delhi!

10 pm - Reach approximate area, station nowhere to be seen. Spend 10 mins circling around looking for station and making plan C. Finally find station way down completely deserted nondescript gully. There's a rickety 3-foot-wide, really long overbridge leading to Platform 2 where the Dauladhar Express is supposed to arrive; and as we climb up, we see, nearly 500 m away, a slowly moving train. And realize it's slowing down.

Run!

Reach platform just as train is beginning to pull out, and with perfect synchronization, all 4 of us pile into 4 different bogeys. including S who's in General and therefore cut off from us, and being trapped in General at 10:30 at night in a Delhi-outbound train is no basket of fun. Hutch makes roaming revenue while we try to keep her calm. SK stays back and M and I head up to the AC. Switch across at Bahadurgarh. TC aghast at finding us boarding after 2 stations. M has also managed to get adopted by an elderly ex-cop along the way, who escorts us to the TC, gets doors opened into the AC, etc.S and SK join us at Rohtak at 11:15.
Finally get 2 berths, and sleep in shifts. There's no bedding, and around midnight I find myself staring longingly at the mattress a 5-year-old kid has been sleeping on... but the little white angel on my right shoulder wins the argument, at least for tonight. For some reason, I dream of a whole street of Lebanese restaurants. not the food, but just the places. Names. Tables. Tablecloths. Waiters. Kitchens. I have no idea why. Is this symbolic of something?

Finally fall asleep with a huge sense of achievement. We made it, finally, in spite of everything; leave, money, time, health, monsoons, delayed flights, missed trains, slow cabs, cancelled reservations... we're in, and we're on our way.

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