This is one trip that i will remember for all wrong reasons, as the events before, during and after the trip were all far from pleasing. But one should face such incidents once in a while to spice up things. Moreover, it acts as a good lesson for you to learn for your future.
So here we were, a group of 10-11 friends, on that friday Night at Dadar TT, waiting for our bus, for our trip to Panchavati & Shirdi, a pilgrim centre around 230 kms from Mumbai. We had planned a weekend trip, so that no one would have needed to bunk the office. In a bid to decentralize my load, i entrusted one of my friends, the responsibility of reserving a railway ticket for return journey in the evening on Saturday. The responsibility he gleefully accepted.
The bus reached late by good measure, but since we were a closely knit group, we did not realize the loss of time, as we were spending our time chatting and joking. The bus finally showed up at around quarter to twelve and we all boarded the bus. The journey was non nondescript as within an hour’s time we all went fast asleep, as tired we all were by the chores of the day in the office. The bus screeched to halt at around 5.30 in the morning and we all reached Shirdi, a buzzing little town which came to limelight due to the noble deeds of Saibaba, a godly figure now. We booked a hotel for keeping our luggage and for bathing, resting etc.
At around 10 o’clock in the morning we had taken our darshan and we were out of the temple, fully contented. Our next destination was the pilgrim centre Nashik, the Panchavati, the Kalaram Mandir and all had occupied my space for quite a long time, i’d been there, but never got a chance to visit those places. So i was thrilled for sure. We reached at around 1.00 clock in the afternoon, and perhaps from then on the difficult phase of our trip began.
We visited a relative of one of our friends, kept our baggages over there, and then proceeded. We visited Panchavati and other places and reached a temple, Kalaram Mandir, the temple itself is built well with good architecture dating back to 11th century. I took the first click there from my camera. And suddenly, out of nowhere, a cop came and snatched my camera and proceeded back to the police chowki, somebody uttered that photography was not allowed. We could not see any board mentioning the same however. We went into the chowki and pleaded the cop to return the camera. He yelled like a madman, as if we had committed big crime, he told us amusing stories of how terrorists take pictures of such places and then plant bombs. Did he thought, we were terrorists. He however, mellowed a his tune bit, when i told him that i worked for a Central Government Department. But, the cop that he was, he did not relent till we had bribed him a 100 rupee note. He then returned back the camera and we made our way backwards. I felt, quite angry on myself that day, for having bribed someone, so blatantly, and in the premise of the temple. I had noted down the buckle number of the cop, with the resolve that i would make a written complaint. But back in the hustle bustle of city life, the resolve melted somehow.
At around 5.30 pm we reached Nashik Station, the train was scheduled to arrive at 06.00 pm. I inquired with my friend, who had booked the ticket, he had placed the tickets firmly in his upper pocket, he checked the tickets in his pocket and told that dont worry he had the tickets. So we all went to Nashik Station at platform no. 3, to await the train. That day, the security arrangement and the ticket checking drive was on over zeal, i suppose, as everywhere, we saw the ticket checkers in black coats. We had no reason to worry as we had proper tickets was my guess.
The train was scheduled to arrive within next five minutes as it was around 5.55 pm and i got jittery, as there was no indicator showing the train, or any kind of announcement being made about its possible arrival. My friend accompanied me to the board where the status of all the trains were shown. There was no mention of this train number. So finally, i asked my friend for the tickets to verify what the issue was. He handed out to me the ticket quite confidently, that was the last time i saw him as confident, that evening. On close scrutiny, i, to my utter shock noticed that the friend had booked a wrong ticket. He booked the ticket of a train that was leaving from Nashik to Mumbai in the morning, and our train had left for the day twelve hours before we. I was shocked and worried. Not for myself but for female folks who had their parents waiting for them.
Panicking wsa the last option that evening i had. The first challenge was to get out of the station complex, unnoticed and unquestioned. I told everybody, that there was minor problem and we needed to go out of the station. Everybody gave me stares that made me worry a bit more. But they complied. Thankfully, the ticket checkers did not bother to question us or ask for tickets and we came out of the station. I called another friend of my, Nilesh, who was bit more responsible a guy, than the one who had booked the tickets. I told him the scene and informed him that the next train was at 09.30 pm and we had no tickets for it and the train was packed. The train would have served no purpose as it would have reached Mumbai in the dead of the night. The next best alternative to reach mumbai by roadways. So we inquired with the Autorickshaws around how to reach Mumbai. It was around 06.30 pm in the evening, the sun had started sinking that evening, a bit too faster i noted.. We were told that if we reached “doodh naka” before 7 pm we may get some vehicles that routinely ply between the upper ghats of Nashik to the lower plains of Kasara, which however, still was good 100 kms from Mumbai. But atleast we could have caught local trains plying from there to our homes.
We informed everybody the hard fact, that we had missed the train. We could not face the eyes of the rest of the members. Anyways, we reached Doodh Naka within next fifteen minutes and fortunately got one MUV which noting our plight, spared no efforts to fleece us, money however was secondary aspect that day, time was the main issue.
The journey in that MUV was not especially a notable one, as we all cramped in somehow, and the driver gave us some more nightmares by his acrobatic sytle of driving on that dreadful accident prone road.
Dot at 09.00 pm we reached Kasara and we were happy to see the train waiting to depart at 09.15 pm. We took the necessary tickets and boarded that train. All of us reached home by 1200 midnight. Around two hours late.
After all that happened, i guess, two hour’s delay could have been excused, and everybody did excuse, for as it is said all’s well that ends well.
But, if i ever learn’t a lesson after that was never to hand over work to others, work which you can do yourself.