Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life is a Journey

I had not been to Kandy for nearly two months and badly wanted to be here. Usually I travel on Friday nights, but this time around since there was no way of passing the house key to me, amma asked me to time my arrival after 5 PM. I prefer to take the train than to take the bus. So I had two options, one was the 3.30 Intercity train and the other was to take the 4.35 train.

The issue with the intercity train was that I didn't have a ticket and in order get a ticket for it, I was supposed to go to the station one  hour before. Usually they open the 3rd class ticket counter an hour before and also distribute remaining 2nd class and 1st class tickets. On most days the 2nd class tickets are pre-booked a lot more earlier and the last minute people like me, either would have to choose between the first class ticket and the 3rd class tickets. If I had gone and tried for the ticket, worst case I might have gone with the 1st class ticket. People at home were thinking that I would go for the 3.30 ticket, but I was too lazy to go an hour earlier to be in the queue, so I decided to take the 4.30 train for which there aren't any pre-bookings but on the flip side the journey is slower.

I got into the train, found a seat in the space where they have 4 seats placed opposite each other. My akka calls these types of seats " I see, you see seats", which basically is a seat from which you can make eye contact with most of the others seated in the train. I pulled out my kindle and continued to read "Death by meeting", all of a sudden 3 pretty girls came and sat on the other 3 seats and then it seemed like a beautiful ride.

The train stopped at Veyangoda and an announcement played out said "The train on platform number 2 will be delayed due to congestion in the trail track". I overheard people talking about a train accident. Still it was not clear, I got off the train to find out more, so I walked up to a railway guard who was there, he was giving graphic description of the fatal accident. He explained how the observation compartment (1st class compartment ) of the 3.30 intercity had crashed in to the engine of another train. He said that people are trapped inside and they are not being able to take out people still. I was stunned for a while, a chill went down my spine, I just remembered I was supposed to be in that train and there was a good chance I might have ended up in the same compartment in case if only first class tickets were left, like in a usual day. My phone rang and it was my sister, she has panicked, she was not sure which train I was in, luckily(?) I had missed the train I aught to have been in.

Now I had another challenge to find a way to get home, akka called again and said, goto Nittambuwa and then get in to a Kandy bus. I am so bad in geography I had no idea where Veyangoda was, anyway by speaking to people I found the bus halt. To my surprise and joy came a bus, which was supposed to go to Matale. Already it was full except a space for a foot step which can be kept on the foot board. I managed step in, I got a kind person to place my bag near the drivers seat. slowly I sneaked a bit into the bus and ended up right near the windscreen. I could sniff the windscreen, I was jammed between the windscreen and about 10 more people on the foot board. People mistakenly thought that I was the conductor and passed money to me. I took it and gave it to the driver and after a few minutes I was serving as the proxy for the conductor. I just found a new job and happily doing it. Driver at times wanted me to tell the people that it was a long distance bus so not to get in if they want to get off close by. I was doing that too. Doing it I realized its not easy to be a conductor! I just realized that you should walk in the shoes of another to realize the challenge they face!

Once we passed Mawanella the crowd got off and I could now get in to the bus, so didn't have to sniff the windscreen and work as a conductor. After the long journey I was glad to be in Kandy and I remembered that  in my journey of  life I am still spared, since I have a purpose to achieve before mother nature decides that the my journey should end!