While continuing with some more solo travel this year, I found myself having to coordinate attending two close friends weddings on the same day in two different locations – Mangalore and Bangalore. As per my plan, I was to catch the Karwar express from Bangalore City Station on Saturday night, reach Mlore by 9 on Sunday morning, freshen up, get to the wedding hall by 10:30 for the Muhurtham, then catch a cab or an auto at 1:30, catch my flight back to Blore at 3:30, get home by 6, change for the second wedding and get there and back home by 9. Sounds complicated? Not really. Everything went off without a hitch but I discovered that sleeper class in trains is no longer for me.
I had lived in Coimbatore for three years and was a frequent flier (?) of the kanyakumari express, coimbatore express and the ksrtc Rajahamsa buses. Frequent travels to Blore made me adopt the policy “cheapest is best” as tickets in 3-tier ac or a private bus would otherwise burn a huge hole in my pocket. I learnt to sleep comfortably with all my baggage on an upper berth in a train while drowning out the noises of my fellow passengers. I found an effective way to battle bed bugs residing in the velvet covered seats of a dinghy bus: cover it with a sheet and boil the hell out of it once you got home or spend the rest of the week itching and scratching. There are however many wonderful memories I have of train stations and bus stops over the course of those three years.
So after a gap of two years of train travel when I found myself booking a train ticket to Mlore, I was quiet excited to re-live my glory days. Little did I expect to not get a wink of sleep as a result of someone grabbing my ankle in the middle of the night because of which I woke up screaming, then having to yell at a bunch of kids for shouting and playing catch at 3 am in the morning and finally having to frequently switch on and switch off the lights for my compartment companions. In short: I was a walking talking zombie for a day and I realised on Monday morning the reason I had a perpetual back ache over the course of those three years was because of my frequent train travel when I woke up with said back ache.
I did however meet a very nice rickshaw driver in Mlore who offered to chauffeur me around and take me from point A to B to C. Irfaan the Rickshaw Walla is going to be a rich fella in a while as I have passed his number along to everyone I know living in Mlore.
When I got home after attending both functions the only way I could sum up my weekend was “Planes, trains and automobiles.” I had used 1 train, 1 flight, 2 autos, 1 taxi, 1 self-owned car and 1 bus in under 24 hours. (btw, does an auto count as an automobile?) I had survived, with a back ache and a cold, but in one piece none-the-less. I know now that I am not going to stinge on a good berth in an AC compartment in a train as I dont think I can survive another night like that. 2 years ago, this would have been just another night. Now however, I would say why thank you for charging only 200 rupees for a berth but I think I am going to spare myself a day of pain and shell out the extra 700 for a more comfortable seat in your fancier bogies. I am going to have to repeat the same thing in a week’s time as I head to Thirunelvelli, this time a bus is substituting the flight but I am dreading the train travel as I have booked another ticket in sleeper class and the journey on the train lasts 16 hours. Here’s wishing me luck and hoping I survive the second wave. On the plus side, I had a fantastic time at both weddings as I caught up with a lot of people who I hadnt seen in a while, goofed around and I got to gorge on Mangalore buns so the foodie in me is satiated.
Dear Sleeper class and Rajahamsas’, we had a good run but for the sake of self preservation, from now on, I am upgrading.