Goodbyes are always hard…we leave the wedding after a deluge of hugs and kisses and promises to meet again threatens to drown us, before lurking tears can ruin our mascara!
We pack and head to the station and happily, our train, The Chennai Mail (en route to Chennai from Trivandrum) is only 10 minutes late! I’m not hassled though…maybe it’s ‘coz I’m anticipating a comfortable ride in First Class or the thought that at the end of this particular journey, is home & Ishaan! And for once I’m right! We settle ourselves into our comfy cabin and stretch our legs.
There’s a bit of fluster at Kottayam, as a porter ushers in a family of obvious NRIs (the huge wheeled suitcases, 4 of them, are a dead giveaway!) and proceeds to squeeze in the over-sized bags under the seats or on them, all in the space of 3 minutes (that’s how long the train stops here)! The family Kurien, consisting of Father, Mother, Daughter and a bright-eyed Granny using a walker, are on their way to Chennai. Father explains the luggage (he must feel it demands explanation!), telling us that since Granny is now at an age where she cannot live alone without causing infinite worry to her family, she’s moving to Chennai and possibly Dubai with them. The bags contain her entire wardrobe 🙂 I’m impressed! I wonder how many bags it will take to pack my entire wardrobe…100 x 4 seems a more realistic number 😛 We pass a pleasant two hours with the family, in which I am amazed again at the ease with which personal stories are exchanged with complete strangers on board the Indian Railways! It scares me a little (in my cautious, urban core), but for the most part, relieves me to think that somewhere within, we still think it safe to reach out and share 🙂
We arrive at Ernakulam (Cochin) Town station at 7 pm and take an auto to Ernakulam Junction (a second station), where our connecting train, the Rajdhani will arrive in three hours. The ride takes us 15 minutes through narrow, dark, winding roads riddled with potholes! As we alight, battered and bruised from our ride, the thought for waiting for 3 hours at the station suddenly makes me nauseous or maybe it’s the stale odor of urine that seems to prevail everywhere!! After a quick glance at the sorry state of the First Class waiting room (why can’t they have a paying lounge, I wonder?), we walk up and down the crowded platform looking for an odor-free zone without much luck and finally settle for seats where we at least have light to read by 😦 I buy two of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five mysteries, which boosts my mood. Odor or no odor, a book always helps make things better! The 3 hours pass slowly…and we both heave sighs of relief when the Rajdhani rolls up to the platform, a few minutes before its scheduled arrival at 10.30 pm! See, miracles can still happen 😛
Again, we have separate berths in two different cabins, but we’re experts now and hubby quickly resolves any issues, in the usual manner (Money! It’s the only way!), with the TC. At the end of the exercise, we are comfortably ensconced for the night, in a First Class coupe cabin (just two berths, so we’re the only occupants!). The staff is all in smart uniforms and wonderfully solicitous. They bring us trays of bread, butter, a banana and some apple juice on being told we’ve not had any dinner. They’re sorry they don’t have any dinner left on board. We awake refreshed after a restful night’s sleep and are now impatient to get home. The surrounding countryside, particularly around Karwar, is pristine & divine. We decide that we have to drive down here with Ishaan soon 🙂 We are scheduled to arrive at Margao at 11.30 am but do so finally at noon. After that it’s an hour’s drive home.
They’re watching for us…and Ishaan comes bounding to the door…I have no words to describe what follows, except to say…the smile that lights up his face, lights up my life 🙂 We are both where we belong.