Friday, November 27, 2015

Not a very fond memory ...!

What is the worse travel memory that I have? Honestly I have not thought much about it. But the other day I was reading about The Worst Trip Ever on Natgeo Travel, and it made me think about that too. There have been instances which were not so pleasant. But I don't know why I have never written about them in my blog. Yeah just once I had this really awful experience in Goa ( one of my fav. place) and I wrote about that on Tripadvisor . Here I am today looking back at the one trip which till date my Mom considers as a "very bad trip" and guess what she was not even a part of that trip.

Here is what happened.

It was a school trip. I was in 6th or 7th standard may be. A group of students and 3 teachers were to go to Nagpur from Dibrugarh to take part in some conference / activities by United Schools Organization of India (USO of India). We had practiced really hard for group dance and I was also to take part in Hindi Speech. If I remember correctly the topic was "United we Stand". For us coming from a vernacular medium school (Assamese medium) and from that part of the country where Hindi was not widely spoken; to take part in a speech competition in Hindi was a BIG thing. I practiced and practiced. That was my first trip without parents and family to somewhere so far. We were to reach Kolkata by some train and then from Kolkata get into another train to Nagpur. I do not remember either of the trains names now. My mother was really worried. She met the teachers and told them two hundred times to "take care" of me. In fact one of my batch mate's mother was our teacher and both my friend and her mother were part of the group.
Thus we reached Nagpur without much drama. I took part in group dance and also in that Hindi Speech. I got a consolation prize too :) I came fourth among all those students from "mainland" India where people spoke Hindi more than us. ( That's some consolation for me) So far so good. Now was the time to return. One day all of us went to Nagpur city for sight seeing and shopping. One of the teachers had really gone overboard with her shopping and had 2 bags full of goodies. So when we reached the station to catch Gitanjali Express from Nagpur to Kolkata, we were heavier with more luggage. I am sure if we were to fly, we would have to pay excess baggage. Everyone got into the train. It was a chaos at the station and inside the coach and one bag of that teacher was left behind on platform. She told me that the bag was still outside. I came out quickly to get the bag and the train started moving. My heart skipped a beat and did not know what to do. I just spread my left hand with the heavy bag on my right hand and pleaded to no one in particular "Mujhe chadha do pls" ( Please make me board the train) Someone held my hand pulled me into the train. After few seconds of stunned silence I burst into tears. I did not know where I was, what to do and what will happen now.  I was inside a general compartment which was full with all sorts of things along with people.The people around me made me sit and gave me some water to drink. Then asked me which coach I was booked. I told them my father my brothers all are in this coach. I was scared and wanted to tell those strangers that I was not alone. My family was with me somewhere in this train. I am referring to nineties here. No pager no cell phones. Those strangers were constantly reassuring that since my family is in the same train, in the next station I could go to that coach. I stopped crying and started to pray for the next station to come. When the next station came 2 persons from the general coach took me out and we ran towards the sleeper coaches. From a distance I could see one of my school senior and her father (who was with another school group where he teaches) running obviously looking for me somewhere. I just ran towards them. A quick bye to the strangers and my senior and her father took me back to the correct coach. My teachers and other students could breathe normal only after our reunion which was no less than Bharat - Milap. Later I realized I did not even thank those strangers. My friend's mother's blood pressure had shot up but luckily nothing major happened and I was back. All this while I had the big bag with me. But the teacher whose bag lead to all these drama did not utter a word. Everyone was upset with her. Later things slowly went normal and all of us reached home in one piece.

This was one experience I would always remember. I decided not tell that to my mother and requested my teachers and friends too. Though reluctantly, they agreed. It was much later one day I narrated this to my mother. I was no longer a school student then and had started travelling alone from Dibrugarh to Guwahati. Mother of course was appalled as how could I keep that a secret all these years and let her wildest imagination run wilder and imagined me in all sorts of places ( read red light areas). She was even ready to confront my school teachers after all these years! I calmed her down and made her think of those 2 strangers instead who helped me that day. She is ever grateful and wishes all the luck and happiness in the world for them.

After so many years, that post in NatGeo Traveller made me look back and recall this incident. All the fun and excitement of the trip was overshadowed by this freak incident. Even I could not imagine what could have gone wrong had it not been for those 2 strangers.

Can I confess that whenever someone mentions Gitanjali Express this one memory come rushing back to my mind and I send a silent prayer to those 2 strangers still. But there is always a "what if" that remains.

Gitanjali Express

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