by Bharath Moro
Day 1: (Friday) - Atul - I want to see the WDG-3A!
It's 1900hrs and I find myself wearily walking back home. I have an hour and a quarter to change/pack/do-the-little-things-one-does-before-leaving-on-a-trip and head to Valsad to catch the August Kranti Rajdhani to Hazrat Nizamuddin. My dad doesn't help matters by constantly calling me on my mobile and asking me hurry. He isn't worried about me missing the train, rather about closely inspecting a WDG-3a that was stationed in the yard. (My father is an original railnut. He loves to shoot all things trains, much to my mom's consternation. Most photographs that are in Trackside's "Nostalgia" section are from him.)
Day 1: (Friday) - Valsad Stn - Am I going to the north pole?
It's 19:35 and we(dad,mom and me) are finally at the station. Valsad is as busy as ever with people packing the small concourse to capacity. The display board brightly shows that my train is due to arrive at 20:14 on pf2. While dad buys pf. tickets, I push and shove my way through the crowd. A rather burly guy tries to get in the way, but at the last moment decides that he doesn't need to take "panga". Pf1 is also full, noisily expecting the arrival of the Saurashtra Janta Exp. I turn left and head to the FOB to get to pf2. From this rather high FOB, one gets a nice view of the entire station complex - the freight yard north on the left, just below to the left are two lines that normally hold a couple of WAM-4's and to the right and ahead are seven lines that form the trip shed/coaching yard/sundry holding space. I notice that instead of the usual WAM-4's on the lines below there is a solitary WDG-3a 14981 from Kalyan(KYN). Dad immediately scoots of shoot a few pics of this beauty. My mom shakes her head!
As soon as I make myself comfortable(?) on one of the wooden benches on pf3, a melodious twin-tone horn sounds the arrival of the Sau. Janta Exp. Pf1 stirs into action with vada-pav vendors and chaiwallahs shouting at the top of the voices about the freshness of their products. A few unsuspecting passengers do eventually fall prey to what is essentially the mornings' fry! I immediately notice that the loco WCAM-1 21822 is in a lightblue/darkblue livery. The last time I had seen 21822, it was clothed in psychedelic red/blue! The Saurashtra Janta halts for 23min(odd!) and gets overtaken by the Aug. Kranti here. Because of the longish halt, the crew shuts of the motors/blowers and keeps only the compressors functioning. Not bad thinking WR. This definitely saves a few bucks!
As I argue with mom about woolens/chill protection for the trip(she thinks I am off to the North Pole!), the PA system crackles to life. A sonorous voice announces that the AK Raj will be arriving on "platepharam 2" in a few min. As expected, WCAM-2p 21880 in "true" LHB livery brings in a very dirty looking ICF rake. I am booked in AS-1 and much to my embarrassment the coach shoots past me to stop 50 mtrs ahead. My mom raises her eyebrow! So much for being the expert railfan, she must think.
Day 1: (Friday) - On board the AK - Does anyone have a mop?
After a dash, I board the coach, plonk my rucksack and head back to the door to wave goodbyes. For the second time in less than an hour, I find myself challenged for the right of way. A Hare Krishna sect member blocks my path and tries to peddle incense sticks. By this time, the train has started. I politely refuse and head to the door. My mom still has the you-are-not-carrying-enough-woolens look. I yell that I am OK and wave goodbye. After slowing negotiating the points out of Valsad, we are on the Auranga bridge(featured a while ago in Showcase). I hear a train rumbling by on the other track. Dad later confirmed that this was the Surat-Virar shuttle.
I am seat in no.6, right next to the door and can't help notice a row neatly stacked steel trays. Ah, food! I open the door to see what's being served, only to recoil. There's trashed food right next to the heater, yuck! I ask the attendant some uncomfortable questions and drop a hint or two about calling the train supdt. He pleads guilty and assures me that the trash will cleared soon. My appetite, which has built up over the last few hrs, quickly dies. And by the time the dinner tray is thrust in front me, I am in no mood to eat. But hunger quickly takes over and forces me to open the tray. Some rice, three rotis, paneer curry, a hard lump of dal and a small 'matka' of curd is on the menu. I am disappointed. The dal is really hard. Wish I had a hammer to break the lump! Left with no choice, I start to gobble down the stuff. Half way through, I give up. The damn dal is just too hard. Next comes the ice-cream. It's green and looks like radioactive waste! Besides, it's pistachio flavoured. Not my favourite. I hate pista ice-cream. I quickly finish the rest of the curd and take my half-eaten tray to the bin.
By the time I am back, there's commotion in the aisle. I see a large, burly waiter flat on the ground, with five to six trays of leftover dal, curry and rice on his back! Apparently, a passenger who had tucked a tray underneath his seat hadn't done a proper job of it. An edge of the tray had stuck out and the poor waiter, with a huge stack lost balance when he tripped over it! A few passengers quickly help him to his feet. Thanking them profusely, he sets off in search for a mop to clean the mess.
We are at Navsari by now and for the first time I notice how fast we are traveling. Certainly more than a 110kmph! Notice a big container rake parked on one of the loop lines. It's headed by WAG-7 27136 in what seems a strange green livery. Or are the sodium vapour lamps playing tricks? Just as we leave Navsari, we brake very hard. I take a peep outside and the smell of burning rubber hits me. Looks like we've hit something or someone. I get confirmation of this later when the attendant troops by shaking his head and muttering "Saala, Upar jana hai to mere gaadi ka madat kyon leta hai". By now it's becoming too cold to stand at the door and reluctantly, I head back inside.
After about a 10 minute halt, we start again and pick up speed very quickly. To distract myself, I borrow a film magazine from a person across the aisle and get to know that Salman Khan has always wanted to work as brand ambassador for a company that makes underwear! Hear a couple of trains clatter by on the adjacent track, one of them definitely is a container rake. The sound is much more "heavy" when these things pass by at speed. Soon I see bright lights on the horizon and decide that I will brave the cold to catch a glimpse of Udhna and the other suburbs of Surat. Udhna doesn't disappoint. There are 2 BOXN freight headed by WAG-5's 23006 and 23125 respectively, one container rake unusually led by a WCAG-1 21976 and a passenger train headed by WDM-2 17916. The WDM-2 is in a strange blue livery and I strain to find out the shed, but we are too fast.
Day 1: (Friday) - On board the AK in Surat - Roughing it out!
We slowly pull into pf 1. I notice that a shiny looking BRC WAM-4 20553 is at the head of packed train that's making its way out. Turns out it's the late running BRC-BL intercity express. As soon as we halt, a family of four with a huge mound of luggage is arguing with a bemused English-looking gentleman over who gets to enter first. This is a no contest. The family wins. I count a total of thirteen pieces of luggage heaved into the coach. Yes, four people carrying thirteen suitcases, bags and cartons! The family boards now and manages to squeeze itself into a space near the wash basin. The poor English-looking gentleman is forced to run to the other end of the coach to board! After boarding the gent makes his way towards my bay and plonks his rucksacks on berth no.3. Meanwhile, the family is getting nowhere. This forces the attendant to hurl a few choice abuses about the luggage. This doesn't help and soon there's a loud argument.
In the din, I hear the WCAM-2's horn signifying that we are about to depart. We start and slowly pick up speed at the exit of the pf and in a few min are galloping along at 85+. By now, half the coach is either watching the antics of the family or participating in the argument. With no near end in sight, I protest loudly that either the family finds its way inside the coach or stop the train and get out. This seems to galvanize a few waiters and the attendant. They quickly move a few pieces inside and shove the remaining boxes inside the attendant's small compartment. Silence in the passage, at last!
The English-looking gentleman has taken out a laptop and black square box with a bright display. The box looks suspiciously like a GPS unit. I lean across and sheepishly ask him if he's a railfan! He grins and introduces himself as an Irishman who's working for the "Rough Guide Publishing Co". He mentions that he working on a piece about trains in India and the black square box is a GPS unit. I am thrilled. I can finally measure the speed of the train accurately! He tells me that the train's doing 118kmph. Yay! After exchanging a few more words with him, I decide that I need some rest and head upstairs to lie down. I hear a train rumbling by on the other track.
Day 1: (Friday) - On board the AK in Baroda - Revenge
A loud clanging noise wakes me up. I feel disoriented and look down from the berth to find out what's happening. A person with a steel drum(yes, people board Rajdhani's with such luggage) has boarded the train and is finding his way to a berth. Grumpily, I ask him to keep the noise level down and ask him where we have halted. Baroda!, he answers. I quickly jump of berth with the intention of finding out which loco is being attached. Could it be a WAP4, a WAP1 or maybe even a WAP5? As I make my way to the door, a nice twin tone horns sounds and we start moving. Darn!, I really wanted to see what loco was leading. Disappointed, I decide that the only way to make up for this would be to go to the toilet and pee. Never mind the station and platforms! Task completed, feeling smug, I head back to the UB and doze off.
Day 2: (Saturday) - Kota - Let's have chai in a "kolhaar"
I wake up 5:00 am to find the a/c vent spewing obscene amounts of cold air at my face. A thick sweatshirt and the standard issue blanket aren't of any help. I get down from the UB to complain to the attendant, who is blissfully asleep. I wake him up and tell him the turn the a/c down. He grumbles and sets off to the other side of the coach where the controls are. I now decide to test the "real" temperature by opening a door. Brrr.. Foolish idea! By this time the Irishman has also woken up and promptly joins me. We exchange a few words on travel, trains and India. He tells me the oft-told-tale-by-a-foreign-visitor to Chennai. The great, big auto rickshaw rip-off.
We are slowing down and I see a few lights. I ask the attendant where we are and if there are any scheduled stops. He mentions that we are somewhere near Kota. I immediately light up. I remember my dad telling stories about his travels from Kota to NDLS by chaircar in the Rajdhani. I attempt to open a door to get a glimpse of the pf's and the entry, but the attendant quickly juts in and remarks "Pagal ho gaye kya?, Itne thand me!" Rapid braking ensures that we come to a fast stop. I notice that the pf is on my left and regardless of the attendant's protest, decide to get down and check out the station. The Irishman joins me and we take a look around. He lets me know that we are early by about five minutes! It's very cold and I quickly clamber back inside the coach, but the Irishman insists that I get down and enjoy a "kolhaar" tea. From the nearby tea stall, I notice a Jan-Shatabdi rake being shunted into what looks like a terminal pf further towards my left. The huge crowd waiting for the train stirs up and starts taking "door attack" positions.
As we walk back to coach, a twin-tone horn sounds and I see that our train is moving! Both of us sprint and make it inside the coach. A TTE has mysteriously appeared at the door and ask us if we are genuine passengers. The Irishman gives the TTE an incredulous look. I reassure the TTE that everything's ok and both of us are genuine passengers. Outside, passengers are still boarding the Jan Shatabdi to Delhi. I catch a glimpse of the loco and it's CNB WAP-4 22544. It's got big windows and with cab lights on, looks like an oversized stuffed owl! We pick up speed rapidly after this and the cold, dry air makes it impossible for me to stand at the door. I troop back inside and clamber up to my berth and try to snooze.
But to no avail. The cold has really shaken me up. The Irishman is also finding it hard to sleep and both of decide that it would be a better idea if the speed of the train is measured using his GPS unit! We head back to the door and despite protests from the attendant, open it slightly and extend the GPS unit outside. A few seconds later, the signals seemed to have strengthened and the Irishman exclaims that we are doing 133kmph! Woohoo! It's the fastest I've ever been on an IR train. I desperately want to stay back at the door but the cold becomes unbearable and both us scurry back inside.
Day 2: (Saturday) - On the AK - This is AIR news
"Good Morning, this is All India Radio", or something similar from the PA system wakes me up. It's around 8:00 am and when I look down there are a lot of people hanging around the door. Turns out they are waiting for their washbasin or toilet turns! I decide that I'd rather stay up. After a few minutes, the crowd clears and I find myself cocooned inside the toilet while the train breezes past stations at 125kmph plus. Great feeling! On my out, I spot the attendant and order a non-vegetarian breakfast. Soon, an oily, flat omelet is served along with a couple of slices of bread. A small block of frozen butter is given as an afterthought. Not amused, I head to the heater by the door where I heat the butter for a minute. I notice that the trash has piled up near the wash basin and decide to confront the attendant again. But he is nowhere to be seen and I head back with the slightly soft butter. Coffee, rather a flask with hot water, creamer and powder is served. This is exceedingly infuriating, as combining all three to make it drinkable while the train is swaying and rattling along at high speed is as difficult as persuading Salman Khan to keep his shirt on while singing and dancing.
Meanwhile, the PA system proudly lets me know that we are running on time and should be in Mathura by 9:00AM. I head to door once more to catch some glimpses of this part of the country. I see that we are entering Bharatpur station at speed. A WAG-5 crosses with a BTPN rake while a WAG-7 27562 from CNB with a large container load is waiting for us to overtake it. Immediately after exiting the station, a container rake with a light-blue 27698 JHS WAG-7 speeds by. Dense traffic at this hour! At the next halt, we overtake a packed passenger train headed by BRC WAM-4 20433.
After some spirited running, we begin to slow down and I notice that we are approaching a large city. Mathura. I spend the next five minutes shaking my head at filth and dirt that outlines the city. I thought Chennai possessed the worst entry to any station but looks it has some competition! I notice on my right that a few platforms have already started and people are impatiently waiting for a train on one of them. Our train doesn't seem like it wants to stop and keeps moving slowly. A platform then appears on the left, confirming my idea of Mathura as a station that has staggered platforms. I notice a few WDS-4 from Agra in smart blue/grey colors doing their work while a light WAG-5B 23115 from TKD impatiently honks for a proceed signal. The Irishman gets down here and tells me that he is off to Agra to do the "Taj Thing". Waving him goodbye, I start to walk towards the loco. I can make out it's a red WAP-4. But the number remains elusive as the starter turns to caution and I am forced to make my way back to the coach. I call Shanx and let him know that I am departing Mathura and should be in Nizamuddin right time. He lets me know that he's just left his home and is on his way to the station. We draw a wager on who will reach first.
Day 2: (Saturday) - On the AK - Wow, I am overtaking a superfast train!
We start from Mathura very spiritedly and cross the points at reasonable speed. I am at the door trackside and decide that the best way to enjoy the journey would be stand here all the way to Nizamuddin. Brave move, considering the cold! Immediately, I am paid very richly by the decision - WAG-9 31061 bringing BOXN empties hoots at the Mathura cabin. My first live sighting of a WAG-9! Thrilled to bits, I stick my neck out a little more to catch the action. Immediately behind, I notice that the Taj express with GZB WAP-1 22020 is waiting to enter Mathura. The smart blue/white livery of the train is broken by a lone standard livery a/c chair car. We are soon rattling along at speeds close to 125kmph and I give myself a broad smile when we cross Vrindavan Rd. I remember Swaran's videos of fast moving 24 coach trains taking at this station and wonder how it must be to stand at the edge of the platform and watch trains clatter by. Another GZB WAP-1, 22000 this time, with the Goa Sampark Kranti rushes towards Mathura as we leave the station.
Soon, we are at Kosi Kalan where a fantastic wide curve allows me to view the full train. It's nineteen coaches long including the generators and looks beautiful, despite the lack of a proper wash. A smallish lake also comes into sight. Lovely! I have planned some wonderful things at this place and can't wait to get back here with Shanx. While still on the curve, a BRC WAP-4 22287 leading the Bombay bound Golden Temple mail negotiates a caution order. Just as we exit Kosi, the NH to Agra comes very close to the railway lines. Normally a 125kmph train would be trampling road traffic, but not on this highway. A red Mercedes SLR zooms by leaving me completed stunned. Damn thing's traveling at least 150kmph+.
It's becoming too cold at the door and for the gazillionth time I am forced back inside. Still shivering, I heave myself to the upper berth and hit the sack.
Day 2: (Saturday) - On the AK - Delhi, finally
Down I come again at 10:15. Looks like we were delayed while I was snoring away. Instead of Faridabad, we are just leaving Palwal. I notice my first NR EMU. These have small slits, presumably for the source and destination boards, above the windscreens. But with no boards, the slits are transparent and when viewed in combination with the front face of the EMU, look like Groucho Marx's eye brows! The usual milk cans are in abundance inside the coaches. After some hard running, we are at Faridabad and I crane my neck out see if Vaibhav Sarin is somewhere about the platforms. No sign of him. I guess he has better things to do on a Saturday morning. Some drab and dusty scenery follows - lots of industries spewing smoke.
I head to the toilet for a wash and by the time I am back, we are entering the massive ICD at TKD. For the next few min, I watch with a gaped mouth the size of the depot. Hundreds of containers lined up, stacked on top of each other and even kids playing on top of a few of them! I want to stay at the door, but my mobile interrupts me. It's mom and despite my repeated requests to call later, she insists that I speak. I close the door and assure her fifty times that I am Ok and it's not unbearably cold and that I am a few thousand kms from the North Pole. When I reopen the door, to my horror we have left TKD far behind and are entering Nizamuddin. I scramble back inside, bring my bags down and get back outside. No way the family with thirteen pieces of luggage is beating me to the door!
We enter pf5(?) slowly and I desperately look out for Shanx. He spots me first and waves. Reassuringly, I get down and walk back towards him. Excitedly he tells me that the loco in charge is the single window BRC WAP-4 22563. Right, a photo is a must. Deed done we exit the station and try to bargain with the autowallahs, who ask ridiculous amounts for a short journey. Shanx decides a cycle rickshaw to the main road would be better. Flagging one down, we get on and a 2 min comfortable ride later we are at the main road. A much more reasonable autowallah takes us to where we want to go.
Day 2: (Saturday) - Rest of the day - Free Fallin'
The rest of the afternoon is spent catching up with old times and meeting new friends. Towards the evening we head to Connaught Place for a drink or two at DV8, a neat pub. Dinner is at an overpriced place where food is charged by the weight of a plate. Novel idea but rigged weighing scale, no doubt!
We get home at around 11:00PM, tired and sleepy. Shanx's brother is busily practicing the bass guitar, but I am in no mood to socialize and promptly head to bed.
Day 3: (Sunday) - Morning - Finally, aloo paratha's
I wake up shivering. It's 9AM and the cold, morning air isn't allowing me to laze around in the bed. Shanx seems oblivious to cold and is snoring away peacefully. I shake him awake and ask him to make plans for the rest of the day. After a quick wash, I head downstairs where his mother has cooked up the most delightful aloo paratha's for breakfast. Meanwhile, Shanx is busy making phone calls to IRFCA Delhi gang to find who'll abandon the cozy comforts of home and accompany us on the day's trips. A few minutes later, I find out that Mohan will join us for a metro ride and Vabby might possible come down to NDLS in the evening.
Day 3: (Sunday) - Afternoon - Metro!, Metro!, Metro!
The plan is set. Shanx and me need to head to Pul Bangash where Mohan will join us. All of us then will head to Shahdara where the line ends. We walk down to the bus stand, where Shanx informs me that we need to catch no. 817. Within a minute, there are four 817's competing for our tickets. How's that for frequency! With all four of the buses threatening to leave us standing we scramble into the least crowded bus and buy tickets to Inderlok. We slowly make our way through traffic (which Shanx assures me is less!). The metro's concrete pylons follow us throughout and at particular traffic junction rise very high. Very impressive!
We are soon at Inderlok. The station, like many modern Indian railway buildings is a monolith, resembling a Soviet era excess. Shanx tells me that we need to by tickets to Pul Bangash, where we are to get down and wait for Mohan. I pay the required fare and collect the tokens. There's a posse of CISF personnel, frisking everyone's bag(I later realize that 26thJan is in a couple of days). Shanx and me get past without any trouble, despite having two cameras in the bag. We hit the escalators where enthusiastic kids are running up and down! As soon as I step on the platform, I am overwhelmed by the cleanliness. Everything's shiny and spotless. Everything's labeled properly and is in it's place. A quick glance at the arrival indicator tells us that a train is due in 3min. A big family of ten soon joins us on the pf. Looks like my first metro ride will be a crowded one!
I don't look enthusiastic but inside I am bubbling like a kid who's got his first ten rupees. I can't believe that I am going to ride a modern, world class metro. As I turn to tell Shanx how I feel, a short staccato blast lets me know that a train is about to enter the pf. Soon, a gleaming unit comes to a halt and the doors open. We step inside to find the train pretty crowded. No doubt, families enjoying a day out on the metro. We pick up speed quite fast. There's very little noise and I feel like I am inside a cocoon. A couple of stations down and it's time to get off. Pul Bangash is a smaller station than Inderlok and somehow feels distinctly "Indian". A WDM-2 horn tells me why. A small express lead by a bright Ludhiana WDM-2 is winding its way past the crossover points below us. Shanx informs me that these tracks form the bypass that joins the Ambala line. I nod in agreement, although I am thoroughly confused about lines in the Delhi area! Meanwhile, after flurry of phone calls from Mohan, Shanx tells me there is slight change in the plan. Mohan has let him know that has played spoilt sport and Kashmere Gate would be a better meeting spot. We head down to get tickets(tokens). At the counter, a pretty clerk smiles as she hands the token.
Another little ride and we are soon at Kashmere Gate. If Inderlok was a Soviet parliament building, then Kashemere Gate is Caucescu's palace. It is huge, crowded and noisy. I feel at home here! We make our way outside where Mohan joins us. A quick smoke later, Domino's Pizza is chosen as the lunch place. Mohan orders the largest Pepperoni pizza available, which we struggle to finish. Shanx later remarks that's the largest serving of "pig" he's ever eaten!
After buying the requisite tokens, we are on the metro again - this time to Shahdara. On the way Mohan shows me the following -
- The Yamuna bridge.
- The Delhi Metro depot at (?) where a diesel shunter resembling a sulphur crested cockatoo is idling.
- My first WAP-7 encounter. 30212 is being lead by a WAM-4 towards NDLS.
The last leg from Welcome to Shahdara is on level ground, which Mohan informs me is the only DM section that is so. At Shahdara, we pop over to the namesake IR station for a few glances. I insist on a platform ticket, at which Mohan laughs jauntily! People are milling about the platform waiting for a train. Shanx decides that we rather do the underground metro than hang around here. Mohan and me readily agree.
Day 3: (Sunday) - Afternoon - Look ma, no hands!
Since we had bought changeover tickets at Shahdara itself, we quickly make our way past the crowd at Kashmere Gate. Entering the underground part of the station, I can't help but wonder at the manner in which the whole thing's been constructed. Good lighting, wide escalators and a big landing area make the underground part a pleasure to use. As we wait for our train to arrive, I glance up to take a look at the catenary structure. I am stumped. Instead of normal copper wire, there's a rigid rail that conducts the electricity. I query both Shanx and Mohan about this and they too are clueless as to why this system is being used.
Meanwhile, an over enthusiastic pf. security guard is blowing his whistle repeatedly. He's cautioning people not the cross the yellow line which painted the whole length of the platform. Despite his vigorous lathi waving and whistling, people keep crossing the line. All three of us have a good laugh when a young man threatens to put a foot over and the guard preempting him by blowing the whistle loudly!
Soon, our train arrives and we board the first coach and position ourselves just behind the cab. Mohan shows us a small opening through which the entire cab is viewable. A quick glance reveals a beautifully laid out and functional cab. Lots of LED's blinking and a analogue styled digital speedometer gives the impression of an aircraft cockpit rather than a train. Mohan lets us know that this underground section is ATO - the driver/operator will do nothing except read a newspaper, drink water and press a few buttons that control the door opening. And this is what happens. Shanx and me watch as the driver pushes a couple of yellow buttons and lets the train drive itself. Wonderful! We also measure acceleration. The train reaches 60kmph in roughly 30-31 seconds. Mohan, meanwhile looks bored(the been there, done that look!) as Shanx and me lap up all the fun. We are soon at University stn, which is the last stop. Mohan bids us goodbye here as Shanx and me haggle with an autowallah to take us to "Campa Cola factory" which I gather later is near Shivaji bridge stn. Vabby is waiting for us here.
Day:3 (Sunday) - Evening - How far is NDLS from here?
I spot Vabby at the far end of pf1. He munching peanuts and is a lot bigger in size than I had imagined! The quick introductions over, he informs us that one of his driver acquaintances had just left with an accident relief train to Ghaziabad. We briefly argue for a while about the reason, but are interrupted by a sad sounding WDP-1 pleading with control to allow it to proceed. Vabby is quickly bought to speed on the day's adventures by Shanx. This conversation is very fast and includes some choice Punjabi words. I struggle to understand and nod along like a puppet. Vabby mentions that there will be a slew of departures in the next hour and that we should head to pf 3 to take advantage of the sweeping curve that trains negotiate out of NDLS. Meanwhile, we are joined by Rahul Bajaj, a new member from Delhi.
We cross the lines and position ourselves at the NDLS end of the platform. And for almost one hour we are not disappointed. Train after train(including a few EMU's) come and go. Here's the list -
- First up, an express hauled by a orange/cream LDH WDM3a 14015
- Then the Howrah Rajdhani cruises by with a GZB WAP1 22074. Surprise!
- Next up are Poorva with WAP-7 30202 and Sealdah Rajdhani with another surprise - WAP4 22274 from MGS.
- Paschim is next with a spanking clean loco and rake. WAP4 22324 from BRC is heading this one
- Meanwhile, on the other line towards to NDLS, a slight late running Kerala Exp with ED WAP4 22522 rushes by.
- Just as we decide to grab some biscuits and tea, CNB WAP-4 22571 leads the Patna Rajdhani out.
Over tea the rest of us convince Vabby to drop his return plan and insist that he join us in the walk to NDLS. A 5min walk later, interspersed with railfan talk, life, death and a few other things, we are at NDLS. Grand old lady GT express is waiting to depart. ED WAP-4 22536 is in charge. Shanx gets nostalgic at the sight and tells us how the train is getting screwed at the hands of the politicians.
Rahul is hungry and insists we head to Wimpy's and grab a bite. An apology of a burger later, we head inside. From the FOB, Shanx and Vabby notice a huge queue waiting for a train. All of us crack jokes about how the train has to be Bihar bound. I later regret this. However one may think about Laloo and his rule in Bihar, the fact remains that there are lot more people traveling from/to Bihar and there needs to be way in which these people need to be catered to.
Vabby and Rahul decide to call it a day and head their respective ways. Shanx and me, meanwhile decide to wander around the platforms for a bit. I am taken aback by the crowd milling about the platforms. And the eastern UP/Bihar bound trains are the ones that have attracted the most. People are packed into every available inch of space in the general coaches. Even the sleeper coaches aren't spared, with the leftover crowd jealously peering inside at more fortunate ones. As we walk past the AC coaches, I can't help notice a well to do family of four sneering at a young man, with bundles of clothes on his head. I am instantly reminded of a passage in W.E.B. DuBois seminal book 'The Souls of Black Folk' in which he describes how whites look at him and ask, with just a gesture of their eyes, "How does it feel to be a problem?".
Day 3: (Sunday) - Late Evening - Err.. How much did we drink?
After having a great day so far and despite the pathetic scenes at the station Shanx and me decide that we need to have a party! A few phone calls later, other friends have also joined us at the nearby Gold Regency Hotel. With extraordinarily low priced booze, this place is great. By the time we finish and stagger out, obscene amounts of alcohol has been consumed. I can't even remember how much! We have dinner/very early breakfast consisting of delicious paneer paratha and khadi at 2:00 am and head home. Completely stoned, I drop right on the bed and am asleep before Shanx says goodnight!
Day 4: (Monday) - Morning - Where's the nearest shoe store?
I have one of my brainwaves in the morning. I tell a bewildered Shanx that I need better footwear and he better take me to a good place! We have a heavy breakfast and set off towards stores in the south west of the city, where there are some good discounts to be had. We stop briefly on the Delhi Cantt. flyover where I take a few pictures of a MG train that is heading towards Rewari.
After a fruitless three hour search for the shoes, Shanx and I decide to head home. On our way back, we decide stop by at Shahbad Mohammadpur stn(on the Delhi - Rewari line) in hopes of catching a diesel hauled train thunder by. As we park his bike and head up a small incline towards the stn, I notice that the platforms are crowded. I turn towards Shanx and in a strange, surreal, telepathic moment both of us blurt out the same thing - Why not visit the Rewari Steam shed? As with all these eureka moments, reality sinks in two seconds later. Which train are we going to take? What about the return? What about the parked, unprotected bike? Lots of questions, no easy answers! We head to the booking office to find out which train is heading our way and towards Rewari. After some confusion, we are told that an MG passenger will be arriving shortly. The thought of traveling by MG further steels my resolve to visit the shed. Shanx concurs too.
Next on the question strike list: the bike. Looking around for secure place, we notice a heavy set person manning a tea stall. Using acting skills that would shame Marlon Brando, we manage to convince the man to guard the bike. He assures us that the bike will be safe until 20:00hrs which is time he shuts shop. "But how are we return before that", I ask. After a few stubble scratching seconds, Shanx comes up the answer - the Bhuj-Bareilly exp. According to him, this train(if on time) would leave Rewari at 17:00hrs and coupled with the MG passenger's arrival at 15:40, meant that we would have at least an hour at the steam shed.
As both of us are expectantly waiting for the train to arrive, I can't help recalling the frantic trip I made to Nellore to eat ice-cream. Similar time of the day, similar time constraints at the destination. I desperately want the result to go in my favour this time! As Shanx and me are discussing the possibility of a footplate, a neatly painted blue YDM-4 brings in the train. It is everything I expect of a North Indian passenger: milk cans hanging outside using hooks on the window bars, a sea of white clothes in every orifice and a few folks on the loco catwalk. Very National Geographic but at the moment, useless for us. With just a 30 sec halt at the station, Shanx and I are scrambling to find a place to board. The railfan in us kicks in at this moment and just the ydm-4 notches up, we jump onto the loco and find a place beside the radiator grill on the catwalk. Visions of the consequences of illegal footplating briefly flirt inside my head but the sight of a YDM-4 radiator fan and exhaust billowing smoke barely ten inches away puts that to rest. Shanx and I give each other huge(I mean huge!) grins.
The YDM-4 from Sabarmati looks beautiful, the sides glistening in the soft cloudy light so typical of north Indian winter afternoons. As I take in the feeling, I try and play adjectival roulette in my mind. But to no avail! The feeling is simply indescribable. Meanwhile, the loco is doing great. We have picked up speed and are going at a steady clip. Bijwasan comes and goes with more crowd squeezing its way in. By now, Shanx and I are suffering. The cold wind is becoming unbearable despite the proximity of the radiator and as we near Gurgaon, our fingers are frozen stuff. All thoughts on trying to squeeze into one of the coaches come to an abrupt halt when we notice the crowd on the platform.
The only available alternative -- a cab ride. As soon as the loco comes to a halt, we hop of the catwalk and introduce ourselves to the driver. He hears our plea patiently but politely refuses citing an already crowded cab! As I realize that my "quest" is soon coming to an end, Shanx makes a phone call. Within 45sec, we are inside a surprisingly spacious cab. In addition to the crew, there a couple of more people. Six people inside a YDM-4 cab! Wow, could this be a record?:-)
As we pick up speed from Gurgaon, I notice that the chief is a thin, frail sort of chap lacking the air of authority most of them have. The assistant, on the other hand, is a burly man with heavy jowls and impossibly large paunch. He is also wearing what one could call a rug with collars and sleeves. The long coat is thick and spiny. Best weapon against the cold! At Garhi Harsaru, the other two gentlemen get down. They are the crew for the Garhi- Farrukhabad passenger. A drab, brown Phulera YDM-4 is waiting on the other platform for the crew to take charge. As we depart Garhi, the oldest MG line in India branches of sharply towards the west. I recall Bill Aitken's book "Branch Line to Nowhere".
I start noticing the assistant more closely now. He doesn't fit into the traditional IR assistant mould. Most assistants are conscientious fellows with displays of deference that would make one recoil. But not this fellow. He sits staring broodingly at the small windscreen and doesn't attempt any signal callings, caution order readings or horn blowings. With his hand tucked into the long coat, he resembles a king lording over his minions! Meanwhile, the chief is doing extremely well. He calls signals and caution orders to himself and blows the horn in long bursts.
Scenery outside is typical Haryana. Shanx calls this "DDLJ" country. Only Kajol and Shahrukh Khan are missing! We finally reach Pataudi Rd. where most of the milk cans are unhooked and are noisily thrown onto the platform. I flirt with the idea of taking pictures of this. But the assistant scares me. I don't want to risk my camera. As we depart the assistant hollers at the chief, "Line 15 ka hai, dheere lo".(The line is fit for 15kmph only, take it slow). I am taken aback by this. The gall of the assistant to talk this way to the chief! Shanx too looks bewildered. But in the next few seconds, both us have our second epiphany of the day: the assistant is actually the chief taking a rare "duty day off"!
We gallop along nicely to the next station which has an impossibly comic name -- Jataula Jauri Sampka. A fresh caution order is issued here which the real assistant duly passes to the chief. A few glances later, the chief has a change of heart. He wants to take over and gruffly asks the assistant to switch. I eagerly await this. Not for the change of driving style, but to see how the large paunch can accommodate the throttle! Much to my surprise, he fits in easily. Dispensing with the usual horn blast, he aggressively throttles up. The YDM-4 sways dangerously on the points. The chief notices my discomfort and assures me that the permanent way is strong here with concrete sleepers and heavy rails.
More spirited running follows. But just as we are about to reach Kumbhawas Mundalia, another comicly named station, we slow down. Ahead, there's a gang cleaning and refilling ballast. Suddenly, there is a loud clanging noise from the front of the loco. Did we knock someone down? Or did one of those metal trays that the gangmen use to carry ballast get stuck in the cowcatcher. Neither, says the assistant. What we have hit is a pile of old ballast that was placed too close to the track and the edge of the cow catcher seems to have caught it. This infuriates the chief who launches a diatribe against permanent way staff. He insists that they are the real reason for late running of trains and not inadequately trained drivers. This spiel continues right until we reach Rewari.
We are now waiting at the huge semaphore signal that guards Rewari. Impatient, the drivers picks up his wireless and lets loose some more invective. The controller is phased and we wait for a further five mintues before we are let in. Steam shed here I come.
Day 4: (Monday) - Evening - My bike!
But not before we have something to eat. Both of are desperately hungry and a nearby stall selling puri/sabzi provides a welcome treat. The sabzi is impossibly watery and keeps running out of the leaf bowl! As we decide to head to a nearby dry fountain(!), Shanx looks like he's seen one of ex-girlfriends. What's the matter, I ask. He mumbles something about his bike and the express we are taking for our return. I ask him to repeat and this time he coherently blurts out that the express that we are planning to take does not stop at Shahbad(where the bike is parked) I now get a sinking feeling that my steam shed visit might not materialize. I am so close and yet so far. Quick calculations later, we decide, much to my disappointment that the steam shed visit will have to postponed for later. We need to return by the same train we came, which as we were repeatedly being told was going to leave at 1610. Shanx decides that he will head outside and buy the return tickets.
Day 4: (Monday) - Evening - Dear fellow, that's the emergency brake!
While I lick my fingers with the last remaining bit of the sabzi, Shanx appears with a blank look on his way. It seems to say "No tickets". Which is exactly what he says! He explains that the queue is impossibly long(Ashram and Chetak exp were expected at that time) and that we are going ticketless! This is turning out to be a very adventurous day. As we go up and down the train in search of empty seats, Shanx gets an idea. Why not travel in the guards cabin that now faces Delhi? I somehow don't like the idea. Ticketless travel and the guards cabin aren't bedfellows, I argue. Shanx laughs at this and mentions that we are still in North India! Resigned, I walk along with him to the last coach. The coach is a curious combination. Guard's cabin and GS. No luggage space. Shanx and I get inside the cabin. A large, burly gentleman is on one of the seats and casts furtive glances at us while we take a look. The cabin is small and the standard size toilet right next to the door doesn't help matters. As we make ourselves comfortable, a few teenagers join us. They are dressed in the typically kitschy, garrulous, "filmi" way. I am half expecting a trite discussion about Bollywood here, but to my surprise they open their Mathematics text books and start solving straight line (y=mx+c) equations!
It's 16:10 and as I peer out for signs that we might be leaving, a short toot on the adjacent line distracts me. It's the Chetak exp arriving from Delhi Cantt. I quickly clamber down and attempt a few photographs. The Chetak with its 17 coaches takes a while to snake into the platform. By the time I am back inside the cabin, one of the teenagers has usurped my seat. I look down sternly at him. He shifts a few inches and asks me to sit half-seat.
A few minutes later we pull out slowly. I notice a large BTPN rake is also waiting for clearance on the BG side of the station. As soon as we cross the points, the driver lets it rip. We pick up speed fast and soon are rattling along at 65+ kmph. First stop, Kumbhwas Mundalia. What happens next is what makes IR travel so unpredictable and so much fun. A six member strong wood-cutter family has chopped off the nearby forest and is trying to transport the resultant firewood. One of them gets in first with a huge stack of firewood and promptly dumps it into the toilet. Before anyone can Jack Robinson, the rest of the family is also in with their stacks. The speed would have made any CIA insertion team proud! There are loud protests from the rest of the crowd. The wood cutters don't pay any attention and quickly proceed to fill up the rest of the toilet. But the space isn't enough. Two stacks are uncomfortably placed near a not so amused Shanx. In other circumstances, he would have let loose some choice Punjabi but not now. His eyes seem to suggest that it is all part of the experience.
With 15 people crammed into a space meant for one or the max three people, the cabin now has a swarthy, scaly odour, which makes me shift uncomfortably for a few seconds. The bidi smoke generated by the woodcutter family exaggerates this. I reconcile myself with the thought - "All part of the north Indian travel experience." With nothing better do, I doze away. I wake up intermittently to find that the crowd has not diminished. Shanx finally wakes me at Gurgaon, where the coach is mysteriously empty. I ask him about the woodcutters. He doesn't have a clue either.
Shahbad is soon reached. We get down and head to tea stall to check on the status of the bike. It's safe! Over a couple of smokes and chai we watch a BTPN rake thunder by at speed. In order to beat the LC crowd, Shanx decides to take shortcut. A long, bumpy ride later we are on the main road to his house.
Day 5 Delhi Ram Ram Sa, Padharo Mhara Des.... (By Shanx)
Being the genial Punjabi hosts that we are, myself and Rajat (my partner from my 2 rucksacks trip) decided to show Bharath our equivalent of the Mumbai - Pune Expressway, i.e. the NH8 between Delhi and Jaipur. So there we were on a fine winter morning headed out in Rajat's Wagon R when we got a call from another friend Meenal who decided to join the party. We promptly proceeded to pick her up from her office in Gurgaon.
Leaving Dwarka, we crossed the Delhi - Jaipur tracks where the LC was closed as the Meerut - Rewari shuttle with the ubiquitous milk cans on windows crossed with Ludhiana WDM2 17193 in charge. The run to Gurgaon was a veritable crawl what with morning rush hour traffic and construction work for the 8-lane Expressway to Gurgaon on in full swing. Crossing Gurgaon, we cruised comfortably at 80kmph through the industrial zones of Manesar & Dharuhera and beyond the tollgate the speed shot up to 120kmph with decent and disciplined traffic.
The highway was littered with signboards of various restaurants & dhabas some of which were literary gems like "Chook Na Jana, King Ka Khana " (Don't miss out on the King's food put up by Hotel Highway King. We counted 17 of his boards in a 25km stretch) and this one from Hotel Highway Choice which said - "Khane me Dum, Paise me Kam" (Food with punch but easy on your pocket). Some of the other notable things that were crossed were a Bajaj Chetak scooter being towed by an Ambassador and numerous Marutas!! For those who do not know. A Maruta (rural India's answer to the urban) is a tubewell engine mounted on an old Jeep Chassis driven by a belt drive which can haul up to 1.5ton loads at 15-20 kmph!! All this for only Rs. 50,000 no wonder the Hindustan Motors RTV (Rural Transport Vehicle) ended up ferrying commuters to office on the roads of Delhi!
Our first halt was the famed Neemrana fort, which like many other Rajasthani forts & palaces has been converted into a 'heritage' hotel with prices that will make the Maurya Sheraton look like a hotel in Pahargunj! All we managed were a few pics of ourselves posing against the ramparts and we headed back for the highway. Apart from a few outcrops of the ancient Aravali's, the highway is lined by miles upon miles of mustard fields and there was no way we could not stop and do the DDLJ thing. So there we were posing like Shahrukh, Kajol & Amrish Puri and I could almost hear a banjo playing in the background!!
The Delhi - Alwar BG track crosses the highway once beyond the Rewari bypass and after that stays out of sight. No sign of the railway at all after that. There a few hills that dot the countryside as you approach Jaipur and there is even a mini - Ghat road from the Amer fort towards the main city. We were headed for the 'Chokhi Dhani' resort, which lay beyond the city on the road to Sanganer, and it was on this road that we crossed the BG rail track above the Gandhi Nagar station.
Chokhi Dhani is a cute little resort where everything was pucca Rajasthani and everyone you met greeted you with "Ram Ram Sa" except for a bunch of tribals wearing fake deer skin loincloths and masquerading as Zulu warriors around a brightly lit bonfire!! Dinner was served in massive heaps of all food Rajasthani(accompanied with ladles of ghee!) and some ladies were seen literally pleading with the elegantly dressed stewards not to stuff them anymore. I guess Rajat and me were the only two people in the entire crowd who managed to wolf down everything in the plate.
By the time we headed back, it was already 2000 and we had to be in Gurgaon by 0000hrs as Meenal had to report to work!! Poor thing had been up for 24 straight hours and had another 12 long ones ahead so she promptly dozed off in the back seat while we fought hard to stay awake after the massive meal. A rapid 4-hour drive later. we arrived at Manesar had stopped for a cuppa chai and then proceeded to drop Meenal to work.
Entering back into Delhi via Dwarka, we saw a Qualis driver who got confused by the newly constructed Rail underpass road and missed a turn flying straight into a ditch. The poor vehicle was stuck deep into the mud nose first with her rear wheels 4 feet in the air. 15 minutes later we were home and in another 5 snoring away.
Day 6: To Dadri & back Sare Jahan Se Acha, Hindustan Hamara. (By Shanx)
There was shelling going off left, right and center and my head reeled from the shockwaves created by the cluster bombs falling around me. In the background I could hear the massed pipes and drums playing 'Sare Jahan Se Acha' as they carried the fallen.. But then I am no army man . and in a few more seconds things were clearer. It was 26 Jan and while the radio was playing the famous tune, the shelling was the after effect of last night's vodka!
Bharath was slumped in one corner looking as if hoodlums had beaten him to death, while Rajat in the next room was snoring away like a Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher. Stumbling out of bed, I took me a while to remember that we were headed to Dadri that day with Bharat Vohra (BV) and we were to meet him soon at Delhi Jn. A short while later Bharath the Moro (BM) came down, looking like an amnesiac Sachin Tendulkar in the Pepsi commercial and it took him a while to find his bearings as well.
Getting ready, we called up BV and decided to meet at the Comesum Food Plaza at Delhi Jn. We reached a bit early and gobbled up some sandwiches and coffee while poor BV was hunting for a place to park his 800! Due to 'security' reasons the Delhi Police had barred the entry of any vehicle into the station compound and BV managed to find parking only about a kilometer from the station on the Northern end and knowing that area, all day long we were wondering if the car would still be there when we returned.
While picking up tickets, we saw that we could purchase tickets all the way to Karachi via the Samjhauta Express if we wished. Had it not been for the travel restrictions to Pakistan, we'd have probably caught that train there and then. Dadri be damned. Bharath would have had no problem, after all Atul would be a 3 hr boat ride from Karachi:o) Moving into the station, we found our train (Delhi - Tundla Milkman Special passenger) already on the platform. Checking out the loco nearly warranted CPR for BM 'cos heading the train was a "Clean and Shiny" WAP1 from Ghaziabad (#22053); something that's as common as me captaining the Indian Cricket team!! I guess BM can now pass his days peacefully and many years down the line he can tell his grandkids that he actually saw a clean GZB loco.
BV arrived after a long trek from the north end of the station and we found seats in the 5th coach from the loco. An overpowering, all combined smell of milk, tobacco and peanuts greeted us as soon as we made ourselves comfortable(?!).Soon we were off, negotiating the yard that is supposed to have the most complex RRI system in the world. We headed over the Road cum Rail Yamuna Bridge, which passes next to the massive ramparts of the Red Fort. We had to halt at Delhi Shahdara (DSA), Sahibabad (SBB), Ghaziabad (GZB), Chipiyana Buzurg (CYZ), Maripat (MIU) before reaching Dadri (DER) and each of the halts meant more and more milkmen crammed into the coach and 3 times that number milk cans hooked to the windows with an equal number of beedis being lit up! We almost had a run in with an enterprising milkman who was trying to shove a can the size of WP boiler under our seats while another was trying to hang a YP sized one from the coat hooks. BV had to jump to the rescue of his jacket as it was being threatened with a milk moustache.
Despite all this, our rail fanning eyes were not missing anything. Ghaziabad yard was littered with locos of all types and we spotted 2 WAP1s (including 22021 Babasaheb), one unit each from the WAP4, WAP5, WAP7, WAG5, WAG7 and WAG9 classes near the electric shed. Between GZB and CYZ on the left hand side lies the EMU/MEMU car shed which provides motive power for suburban trains running all the way to Aligarh, Ambala & Mathura.
The run to DER was accomplished without any holdups and as we were entering the platform, we noticed a WAG-7 hauled train with a dead WAP-5 in tow! Apparently 30013 had failed during it's duties on the Kaifiyat express and some poor goods driver had been held at gun point and asked to relinquish his G-7!
Soon we were on the platform wondering if we should take permission from the SM/RPF (which has a sizeable outpost here) to take pics or straightaway get on with the job. Undecided, we sat on a bench on the east end of the platform as Ludhiana WDM2 18775 came up light, and after a 2 min halt went on its way disappointing a bunch of hopeful chaps on the station who were soliciting a footplate(It wasn't us by the way!). The Delhi - Aligarh line is one heck of a busy place post 3 PM and every 10 minutes there was a train thundering past us, and our cameras were clicking away to glory.
Here's are a few spottings:
- First up was the Delhi - Guwahati Rajdhani headed by a Mughalsarai WAP4 #22064 (An Ex HWH & Ex WAP1). The train, carrying 6 coaches to Dibrugarh had 3 generator cars (all in the French Livery) screamed past at 125kmph or thereabouts.
- Next up was HWH Janta (HWH WAP4 #22410 an Ex WAP6 from ASN shed).
- The Patna Jan Sadharan, the train, which had caused a stampede at NDLS, went by with MGS WAM-4 21325. No Bihar train jokes were passed this time!
- A few minutes later the Muzzafarpur bound Lichhavi express with CNB WAP-4 22582 rolled to a stop. A massive crowd (at least by Dadri standards) was waiting to board the GS coaches. A few managed to scramble inside but a thin man with a large black suitcase couldn't. As he walked back towards the exit, I could see desperation written all over his face.
- After this the 3 Rajdhanis (HWH, SDAH (with a WAP-7) & BBS), thundered by 125+kmph, with the regular Poorva Exp (GZB WAP7 30212) sandwiched in between.
During the interval between trains, we kept ourselves occupied by checking out BV's excellent photographs from his recent trips to Gujarat, Achnera etc. and talking railfanning lingo. Apart from being a good photographer BV also has a keen eye for detail, which is evident, is his trip reports as well. All of this had caught attention of the locals, who soon surrounded us. Apparently, they were quite happy with the 'performance' we were giving and were lapping it up. After all who wouldn't want a free show!!
In between all this, a container train arrived from the Aligarh end headed by WAG7 and moved into the extreme left sidings and then reversed into the Inland Container Depot, which is about 400m from the yard. In addition to this Dadri is also kept busy by numerous coal trains, which supply the NTPC Power Plant at DER. Trains coming from the Aligarh side take a sharp left after crossing the station and then take a loop which climbs over the mainlines towards the Power Plant which lies to the NE of the yard. Another siding coming in from the plant joins the yard on the Delhi end, where an empty BOXN rake waited for clearance behind a WAG7.
Another strange thing; except for the light WAG9 in GZB yard, we did not spot a single train hauled by a WAG9. This was really odd, because on a normal day, you can easily spot at least 5-7 WAG9 hauled trains on this line. Of course WAG5 and WAG7s from sheds as far as Asansol, Mughalsarai, Ajni, Erode & Ludhiana made were spotted.
The Sun had set, and it was time to head back home, but the question was how? Train connection meant waiting for an EMU coming around 2000 hrs, and since Dadri doesn't really have the reputation of a tourist hot-spot, we decided to head back by road. Our first mode of transport was a smoke belching jalopy, also known as an auto that dropped us to the bus stand for 10 bucks. A quick words on the road leading to the bus stand: Forget $20 million dollar space rides to the moon's surface. Dadri has more authentic moon surface than the moon itself! Next up was a deadly Uttaranchal Roadways bus boarding which we realized there was no place to sit. To worsen things, the driver had put on some lewd songs in chaste Garhwali and the audio system in the bus would have made Dr. Bose commit suicide by flinging himself in front of the same bus!
Thankfully, the traffic was not much and we made it alive (and only slightly shaken!) to Anand Vihar Bus Stand in one piece. Thereon, we took an auto to Welcome Metro Station (I don't think there is a more welcoming station anywhere in the world). Trundling into the station, we queued up for tickets (or should I say tokens).
On the counter, sat a couple of real PYT's in slick black jackets and it really took an effort not to ogle at them!! In fact we were considering buying tickets couple of more times and I was almost on the verge of asking one of them out:o) No wonder Metro is doing roaring business and I am hoping that the upcoming station near my residence has a couple of beauties as well. What more incentive do I need to use Public Transport.. Whack!! Romeo ... come back. this is a trip report remember!! And there are school kids on the group as well!!! Oh Sorry.. Ya so where was I? Jerk. you were at Welcome Station. Oh yes.. So we boarded our train towards Rohini. BV got off at Tis Hazari and started hunting for his car and soon we learnt that he had found it (phew!) and a while later we got off at Inder Lok. I love it when the recorded voice in the Metro blurts "Ye Inderlok station hai" makes me feel I am dead and have arrived at the Hindu version of the Pearly gates.
It's a different matter that outside its no less than hell because all you see is the filth and squalor of urban Delhi. A short bus ride later. we were home. It's then we realized that we had covered the 60 odd km from Dadri to my residence in just 2 hrs 10mins using 5 different modes of transport! That's about as close you can get to being supersonic in this town.. This was only possible because it was 26 Jan and people were busy stayed at home singing "Saare Jahan Se Acha. ", while we added "........Indian Railways Hamara"