The day was quite exciting to begin with! We had plans to board the Purva Express around 10 25 AM. As usual Avinandan (Abu) was late and I was at Durgapur station by 9 45. The man at the ticket counter gave a bad news. The recent train fare revisions has made it mandatory for everybody to buy tickets for certain minimum distances for each class of trains. In our case we were to buy tickets of Rs.118 instead of Rs.68 each 😦 !!! I was quite sure that I was awaiting criticism from my dad for this. When I passed on this bad news to Abu, he too was like “my dad is gonna kill me for this“. All our dads are same, they always tell upon us before listening to anything we have to say. Anyway, I am quite used to it.
It was 10 15. I was waiting at platform 3. The train’s arrival had been announced. It was due to arrive any minute yet Abu wasn’t visible anywhere. He wasn’t even aswering my calls because he was busy talking to Anima, his girlfriend. How more irritaing can it be??! But things were gonna get better from then onwards. Just before Purva express, The Howrah-Mumbai Mail pulled into the adjacent platform, along with Abu appearing on the scene 🙂 . I was relieved!
We had general compartment tickets for Purva Express, but it was damned crowded as usual. We were gonna have to stand for the whole journey of 4 hours, but there was another option. The Mumbai mail was late by 12 hours, so it was quite empty.
We asked a TT on the platform if we could get on Mumbai Mail and he gave a positive nod! The general compartments were mostly empty. We took two berths for ourselves 🙂 .
Another thing I forgot to add! In this meantime Anima had reached the station. She was just got on the opposite platform and became visible when our train began to pull away. It was a cinematic moment! Him and her, both waving to each other and receding into distance.. I would have loved to film the moment but Abu was blocking the door 😡 . So we began our journey! 🙂
Halfway on our way the dreaded R (for roaming) sign appeared on our mobiles as we entered Jharkhand area. It was time to save our phone balance like misers 😉 . Other than that our journey was quite uneventful. Around 10 minutes to our destination, I got a call from my uncle. He asked us to wait in front of a hotel named “Shital Chhaya”. So we did. After getting off the train we went to there to wait.
At first glance the surroundings looked much like our own Benachity Bazaar of Durgapur. Only difference was that the roads were a bit less crowded and there were a lot of Trekkers waiting for passengers. We don’t have trekkers as a mode of public transport in Durgapur. People around were too busy to notice these two curious people gawping at them. A billboard above a shop told us that we were on the Ranchi-Patna Road. I had a random guess; if that road was the Ranchi Patna road then Ranchi might be somewhere near. I called up my friend Tanvir (nicknamed Guruji), he lives in Ranchi. He told me that he hadn’t heard of the place yet, but he could come over to meet us if it weren’t too far. After a while a medium height person approached us asking if we were Mr. Patra’s relatives. I gave a confused nod. Confused coz I didn’t know my uncle’s full name, so I wasn’t sure if it were him who sent this person to receive us. Then I thought since there wasn’t anybody other than the two of us waiting, so it had to be us. We followed him on foot for quite a distance. We were to be received by a Bolero, we were bit unlucky. The Bolero had broken down before meeting us 😦 . We went to a hotel deposited our luggage and took a table for ourselves. Mr. Manoj (that was his name) was to pay for our lunch. So we ordered our usual rice, daal and sabzi plate. Two plates arrived and we started our lunch. Back at Durgapur, the hotel owners are misers. Whenever you order a meal, they give you half of what ur stomach asks for. Back there you can’t help asking for extra helpings to feel full. Here it is the opposite; you don’t dare ask for an extra helping!!
Filled to our throats we resumed walking. But this time Mr Manoj called up two rickshaws. Having loaded ourselves we were off for Tilaiya Clinic. The place we were staying was called Jhumri Tilaiya. Koderma was the name of the district and the nearest city. So, the station was also named Koderma, even though Koderma is 6 km away. Few minutes later we were at our destination. Uncle wasn’t at home, Mr Manoj had the keys. He unlocked the doors and let us in, showed us the rooms, kitchen, bathroom etc. Then we had an extensive discussion with him on the balcony. He told us about the upcoming power plant that we were planning to visit, his designation, his job, my uncle’s job, life at Koderma, transport etc, yet it didn’t tire us anymore that we were already. He left after sometime, but I stood at the balcony for a while longer watching the road, people and vehicles. Even though at a distance of just 4 hours by train, we were the farthest away from home in recent times. Felt like something 🙂