Circa 1998 I planned to take my Bike- a 1988 yr model Hero Honda CD 100- to Chitradurga (CTA) where I was studying Engineering between 1997-2001.
Now, CTA is a town around 200 kms away from Bangalore. I could’ve ridden out the distance but then, this bike had seen upwards of 100k before me and bro inherited it.
I did not want to take the chances at all and decided to load it onto a train till destination. It’s a fairly simple deal. The bike is treated as a parcel and I just had to pack it up nicely and drain out the tank completely and park it in the designated loading area. After this, it gets loaded into the parcel car and then, I get off the train at destination and pick it and move on. How hard can it be?
The train route itself was kinda funny. It departs from BLR station at 10.00pm and via a series of stops and a junction, reaches CTA by 5.00am next morning. All this round and round merry-go-round for a 200km trip. I didn’t care much about it coz I’d only sleep through the journey. Or so I thought.
The bike had to be dropped off at the loading point at 7.30 pm for a train that’d depart at 10.00pm. weird. I left it off there and loitered around aimlessly only to realize much later that the train was to depart at some other platform. Dang it!! I ran all the way to the right platform only to see the train actually move. It had started!! ..I ran (yes, fat guys can run) with 3 big bags dangling till I could grasp the grab rails and jumped into the coach which ended up being the general compartment. Shoot. Atleast I was on the train. My tickets were for the sleeper class and the general compartment had no vestibule connecting them. No problem. The train was supposed to stop at Yeshwanthpur station for a few minutes and that’s where I’d get back to my coach. How hard can that be?
The train did stop at Yeshwanthpur-how predictable-and I got off the train with my baggage and walked towards the front of the train searching for my coach. While on the way, I had this curiosity to check if my bike did get boarded. I casually walked up to the station master and enquired –
Me –“ sir, I loaded a bike onto this train did it make it? Can I pick it up at CTA?”
Station master –“ what train? What time? When did you load it?”
Me – “ 3 hrs ago and Bangalore central station..here is the receipt”
SM – “it is this train and it should be on board but why are you here? The train is moving”
Me – “ oh shit…”
Again repeat scene. Fat guy runs behind moving train with 3 big bags dangling. This time complication. My coach was at the front and I had to run a lot and when I did find my coach, the door is shut and locked from inside. I managed to grasp the grab rails and held on and started banging at the door for somebody to open it. Open they did..lucky me. Dodged a lot of stares and got to my berth and heaved a sigh of relief and fell asleep.
Sometime in the middle of the night the train stopped at Chikkajajur – a junction. It stopped for a little longer than I thought. The coaches actually get interchanged here and rerouted etc. after half hour, I thought I step outside and stretch myself and drink a cup of coffee. Stepped on to the platform and bought me a cup of coffee and wandered around there.and then, DISASTER. My bike was on the platform!! it was a perfect WTF moment. Hurriedly threw the cup of coffee and found 2 staff member and –
Me – “ why the hell is this bike outside? It is supposed come alongwith me to CTA..i want this boarded right now..come lets grab it and put it in the parcel car”
Staff – “saar, we don’t know anything. We should check with the station master”
Me – “here is the receipt..i need this loaded right now…you scumbags (actual cuss words replaced)”
And we starting taking it to the parcel car and just then, DISASTER again. Train starts to move before we could complete the mission. Dang it..now I was out of train, Bike out of train, baggage inside train. How more complex can it get. Left the bike right there and the story repeats again..fat guy runs behind moving train but this time, no baggage. Yet again I jumped into the last coach – General Compartment. Can it get any worse than this? I guess.
Now, I was not so sure of any other stations coming in between and decided to wait till I reached CTA to decide on the baggage. After an hr from there, luck had it and the train stopped in the middle of nowhere for whatever reason I didn’t care much about. Yet again I got off the train and ran on the tracks till I reached my coach..heaved myself onto the ladder to see the doors closed and locked from inside and just then, as you could’ve guessed, the train started moving. DARN!! How many times do I have to do this..yet again somebody opened the door and yet again I dodged the stares and reached my berth and fell asleep for an hr after which we reached CTA.
I knew the bike was not on the train and I got out of the train and quietly walked out of the station before anybody came out to stone me.
I finally got my bike at 10.00am which was the schedule anyway. I learnt about it much later.
That ended my ordeal of a lifetime.
moral of the story – if there is a system and process in place, just shut the F&^% up and let them do their job..