I was traveling alone to Hyderabad. While I flew back from there; my journey to the city of Nawabs & Biryanis was booked by train. The train was from VT station at night around 10:30 if I remember correctly. Now I am not a very brave woman to venture out alone at night but I don’t let others know about it.
I travel light so had just a rucksack and my handbag. I could have taken a cab directly for the station which would have costed me a few hundred rupees and a few hours in Mumbai traffic.
But anywhere in the world I prefer to travel in local transport compared to comforts of cabs unless situation demands otherwise. Also as all women do, I tried to save some and took the other route. 🙂 .. a local train till Churchgate & then a cab to VT. Total cost from my home came around just Rs 60/-. I patted myself.
It wasn’t that easy though since after Mumbai Central the local was totally empty. Ladies compartment, 9:30 PM and opposite direction of traffic ….. I was sitting alert & erect and was all set to jump off in case of any emergency. Let me confess here, at heart I am a chicken. I was actually relieved when the train reached Churchgate.
The empty ladies compartment.
At Churchgate I felt everybody was watching me. All were going home and I was walking in the opposite direction ! I crossed the subway and to taxi stand. Took a cab for VT. Just while I was getting in with the rucksack still on my back, my umbrella popped out of it and got stuck in the door. My sign of nervousness or idiocy or both, I don’t know.
Now who the hell carries an umbrella to Hyderabad during summer ? Me !!
“Arre madam, aap pehle apna bag to utaro”. Cabbie uttered after patiently waiting for 2-3 minutes seeing me struggling to get in. Believe me, it was not more than that. Anyways, I was in after a little stupid juggle.
V always laughs at my sense of direction and gets worried when I travel alone. I can never remember a route even if I have gone there hundred times in broad daylight unless I see it on a map. I read somewhere, it’s an inbuilt manufacturing problem with our gender. So, I am excused. 🙂
Night time, after a turn I thought the cab was going in a direction which was just the opposite. I found myself again sitting erect holding the door handle, craning my neck, trying to locate some familiar buildings.
Damn ! Why don’t I visit these places more frequently? Shall I sms V who was 1000s of miles away ? How was he going to help me was not my concern. I cursed myself for not starting a little more earlier; I could have afforded to take a bus instead, which was much safer.
Then I suspiciously looked at the cabbie. He didn’t look like a kidnapper. Kudos to me, I sat patiently. I thought of waiting for some more time since I knew it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to reach the station.
“Where do you want me to stop? Here or at the other end?” he asked.
Have we reached ? In front of me was the famous Victoria Terminus glowing softly in the night.
But where do I get down ? I knew there were two gates, ends or stations… whatever you call them… one for local trains and other for long distances. Knew nothing more than that. I told him to stop from where I could take a long distance train.
“Then this is it.” he said.
He stopped, I paid and he zoomed off saying, “You’ll get all trains for Karjat, Kanjur marg, Kalyan from here.”. These are local stations at the far end of Mumbai.
I immediately knew I wanted to kill him. His idea of long distance was way too short of mine. Nonetheless, I went inside, through the security and onto the station. I looked at digital board hoping for the best. No. I went to the sole open counter.
“Where to?” He thought I was buying a ticket.
“I don’t want to buy a ticket. I want to go to the part from where I can get long distance trains.”
“For that you’ll have to go out and go round and enter another gate”, he gestured.
Time was running out. I didn’t want to come out of the station fearing my knowledge about the area, odd-time & sense of direction. In India, if you are a female, alone with a rucksack and directionless, it always feels as if the whole world is staring at you and eager to help. Instead, I went to a policeman.
He asked whether I had a ticket to travel and then pointed towards a far off place where an opening was connecting to the other part of VT station. I was home. 🙂
Train was at the platform and the reservation chart was yet to be pasted. I proceeded towards my coach. (un)fortunately it had the population of just one attendant besides me. I went up & down twice from one end to another to check if other people are boarding it.
No. I got down, there was no chart on the coach also. I checked the train no. & name again. It was correct. I bought a bottle of mineral water and a sandwich for my dinner and waited for some more time.
No luck. Anxiously then I asked the attendant whether it is going to Hyderabad or coming from there ! I was assured that I was in the right coach and this was an additional coach due to summer rush.
Additional coach ? For me ? I was bemused. 🙂
When the train left, the coach had just 20% of occupation. I was alone in my cabin of 8 berths. After a while a newly married lady came and asked if she could join me as she was also alone in her cabin and was scared. Apparently her husband had guided her to be with me.
I am a brave woman, you see. 😀
Beautiful henna design on her hands.
Some more tit-bits on Hyderabad later.