When rocket failed to zoom (Part-I)
A train accident in 1998:
It was in the January of 1998. I alongwith couple of my batchmates went to Kolkata for taking the written test of a company named Bharat Bhari Udyog Limited, a PSU. We had planned to overstay a couple of days to scout the job market in Kolkata. I managed accommodation at the Assam House located on the
One day before my scheduled departure, my batchmates were to leave for Guwahati by the Kamrup Express. We came to the
The next day, I was to leave by the Kamrup Express. I checked out of the Assam House. My two new friends came to see me off. However on arrival we found that the Kamrup Express had been cancelled for that day as the train from Guwahati did not arrive. The guy from Dibrugarh encouraged me by saying that we will be traveling together the next day. He had his confirmed reservation by the Kamrup Express next day. So, I had no other option but to collect refund of fare and went back to the Assam House with them. We entered the house by avoiding the reception counter. Thus there was no check in and I stayed free for that night in the dormitory. It was possible those days, but I am not sure now. Anyway, I was low on my finance as I had carried just enough cash to survive 4 days. There were no mobiles or ATMs those days.
We repeated the drill of going to station the next day. But the trains to Guwahati have been cancelled for that day as well. We were told that a bridge has been badly damaged and there is no certainty as to when the rail link would be restored. I had no money to survive this period of uncertainty. So I had decided to start for Guwahati by road. I have heard about the way to travel by road -- Catch a rocket service to Siliguri and then if possible catch Guwahati bound fro train from New Jalpaiguri. It is going to a 1000 plus km bus journey. Reluctantly the guy from Dibrugarh also agreed to accompany me as he also had ran out of cash. It was almost five when we left
The rockets left one by one as they came. However we just waited and waited. Finally an ordinary looking bus had arrived around 9 pm. All the remaining passengers were asked to get into that. It was informed that the rocket we were suppose to board is undergoing some repair at a garage and so we will be ferried to that garage by this bus. Smelling something fishy, some of the passengers started arguing. Bengalis ask too many questions! Both of us were hoping that the bus will leave and we will be step closer to Guwahati. Finally, even the skeptics agreed to board the bus. The bus criss- crossed though Kolkata road and took us to a workshop, probably located at Ultadanga. The situation there was that the bus was not ready. Half of the crowd erupted in protest. We were silent spectators. Foreseeing trouble, they transport agency produced a rocket. We all boarded that and the bus zoomed off. But about an hour or so into the journey, the conductor of the bus came and informed that condition of the bus is not good and it will not be able to travel to Siliguri. Heated arguments started again. But that would not improve the condition of the bus. So the driver took it to another transport garage. The arguments continued after disembarkment. Then they produced a semi deluxe bus (without push back chairs) and reluctantly everyone finally got into this one. We have changed bus thrice in a span of 2 /3 hours. I and my friend occupied a seat meant for three so that we can have some sleep. To the chagrin of the passengers, even this bus needed some repair before departure and few mechanics went under the bus to do the job. Fortunately, it did not take long. It was almost 12 in the night and all passengers were starving. So the driver was directed to take stop the bus at the next available roadside hotel. Being the
We had finally arrived at Silguri around 2 in the next day. The rocket had landed several hours late. That excluded the possibility of getting any train to Guwahati. Now we had no other option but to catch another bus to Guwahati. We decided to have lunch before deciding on future course of action. The remaining part of the journey was equally eventful.
(to be continued)