life story

trains

My parents like all malayalees wait for the summer vacations to begin, so that they could go back home to Kerala. But since most of the malayalees were also a little stingy and in much dire conditions than others, they usually preferred the three day train journey to Kerala than the three hour flight journey.

And so my parents like others will wait for February; so that they could get confirmed a ticket in Kerala Express.

Now there are many trains which go to Kerala from Delhi but in the 2000s, there were mainly three trains that went from Delhi to Kerala; i.e. it begins at Hazrat Nizamudin (which is important) to Kottayam (again important). These were the 12626 Kerala Express, 12432 Rajdhani Express and 12617 Mangla Express. At least these were the prominent ones that I remember and know of.

Generally Malayalees would prefer the Kerala Express to the others. I did not really understand why but I always thought it was because the Mangla Express took much more time than the Kerala Express and was much more prone to accidents and delays; meanwhile Rajdhani Express was much more expensive than the Kerala Express.

Now the Malayalees across Delhi, nurses, office-goers, teachers, businessmen; would wait for February with their blankets and kattankapi* ready for booking the tickets for 12626 Kerala Express because it is no less than a war. I will explain why.

The IRCTC has a policy of three month prior booking for train tickets. Now Bollywood has often taught us that if somebody needs a train ticket, all they need to do is to reach the station and everything will just work out(most of the times in Bollywood, whatever the situation, everything will work out). But that is not how it works, at least for Kerala Express during May-June; especially its B-coaches, i.e. the third AC.

If you want a ticket, lets say on 15th May (because that is when the summer vacation begins), then one has to calculate the 90th day before that date, and go to the railway station at 5:30 am. Normally, the seats in the train will be opened at 8am and will close at 8.15am.

There have been many mornings when I have woke up and found my parents gone only to return tired at 8.30 am. (Both my parents used to go, I guess they could stand in two different lines and had a better chance for getting the ticket.)

Sometimes, you don’t get the tickets in the first go; you have to wait many mornings before you could get a confirmed ticket.

I really enjoyed those mornings though because with my parents gone, I could eat all the motichur ladoo I want from the fridge and watch the prime viewing of Noddy, Oswald and Clifford the Big Red Dog at 6, with nobody to scold me for not doing my homework or finishing the ladoos.

After many sleepless dawns, they acquire confirmed tickets, together and with a lower berth if possible, the real preparation begins.

My mother starts going to weekly markets on Saturday and Thursday, and start buying clothes for me and my cousins, bedsheets and nighties for my grandmothers, cloth materials for my uncles and aunts studying. My father goes to Chandni Chowk looking for Christmas lights in May, to take back home.

Then comes the bringing down of suitcases and bags from the top shelf and an evaluation whether we need new ones or not. In most cases the result of this evaluation was merely that we can get the suitcase repaired.

And so after almost 6 months wait and anticipation, we reach the Nizamudin Railway Station, waiting for our train. And it seems while waiting in the platform for our B5 Coach; everything in the world will go right now; because we are going home.

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I use fiction to pump friction into mundane realities.

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tipsy tomes

tipsy tomes

I use fiction to pump friction into mundane realities.

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