When a Failed MRVC Rake almost messed up my exam!

by Karan Desai


Today I started from home at 12.40pm to reach VJTI, Matunga for my exam scheduled at 2.30pm, keeping a sufficient buffer time. I reached Malad station at 12.45pm and saw that the 12.44 BVI Slow had already left. (During exam days, instead of taking a direct train to Dadar, I take a train to Borivali which returns to Dadar as a Churchgate local just to get a decent seat so that I can study for an hour). I caught the 12.47pm 12-coach BVI Slow and settled down at a window seat with my books. At Kandivali, as usual it was announced that this local will go to Platform 8 at BVI. Just outside Kandivali, we were made to wait for 10 minutes for an earlier local to vacate PF-8.

We started from BVI PF-8 at almost scheduled time and simultaneously I saw another CCG bound Slow local pulling out of PF-3. Nothing unusual. Always alongwith the train departing from PF-8, if there is another local departing from PF-2/3, both are made to run parallel- the PF-8 local through Stabling Lines and PF-2/3 local through Up Slow. Today was no different. However, just south of flyover, I saw yet another CCG-bound Slow local slowly crawling on Up Slow. Now this was unusual- we don't see THREE CCG Slow locals starting from BVI almost simultanesously!

Now, my local was made to wait at the south end of Stabling Line and the local on Up Slow also stopped besides us. For 10 minutes, neither moved. It was then it hit me that something is wrong- I peeped out of the door and lo! Just ahead on Up Slow, a Yellow-faced MRVC rake was stranded, with red markers flashing and people jumping off! In a moment I knew it had happened- yet another "state-of-the-art" MRVC rake had developed a snag and stranded midway! Why did it have to happen with me now- when I had to reach Matunga for an exam in an hour!

I wasted no time and jumped off my train. I knew a small shortcut at the end of the small culvert leading to the main road nearby. I jumped down through it, reached the main road and asked an autorickshaw to drop me at Malad station, ahead of the stalled rake at Kandivali. It was 1:20pm already! He dropped me 100m away from Malad station at 1.35pm. THe last 100m stretch of Malad's Station Road is a One-Way street and I had no option but to run the distance as time was running out. When I was 50m from station, I saw a CCG bound local pulling into the station so I ran, as fast as I could, tugging my bag along, in the sweltering summer heat, climbed the FOB only to find that it was a Bandra local and moreover, it pulled out before I could climb in.

Thankfully, the stalled MRVC was either removed or it began to moveon its own again, but now there was a long line of trains on Up Slow, waiting one after the other. I caught the next available CCG Slow local at 1:40pm and sat there praying that I reach Dadar on time. But it was not meant to be that way- between Goregaon and Jogeshwari my train was made to halt twice, wasting precious minutes. From then on, we ambled along at WR's usual speed of 50-60kmph, eventually reaching Dadar at 2.18pm!

I ran across the bridge to East side, not wanting to take a chance of going to Matunga by a CR local and walking to college from there, caught hold of a couple of taxi drivers who declined to take me to VJTI till found one who agreed, and finally dashed into the examination hall at 2.28pm for the Final Exam paper begining at 2.30pm!

Damn the "state-of-the-art" MRVC rake that almost made a mess of my exam! At the same time, it also made me realise once again how dependent we Mumbaikars are on the local trains! When I boarded the autorickshaw from Borivali, I was thinking of all alternatives- taking a bus, a cab, etc but none of them would have taken me from Borivali to Matunga in one hour. Finally it was again the ever-reliable local only that helped me reach on time!:-)

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