To me, only railway journey gives a real sense of traveling. Like an unorganized picnic, so many people have decided to travel on the same day at same time resulting in an unsaid excitement and energy in the air. Even most reserved passengers ultimately give in to this excitement of other co-passengers -at least by the time when they are about to reach their destination. It is this so much happening in every train journey that fiction writers have used this animation on wheels as a backdrop to pen drama in their stories. The essential ingredients of this train drama are –
- A train that knows where it is going, a definite time span to fold and unfold mystery
- Numerous varied travelers that all count as suspects or can add to the confusion.
- A detective,
- A chaiwala who knows it all,
- A passenger without ticket
- A dumb TC (or just a TC…)
-as much as you can stretch your imagination, go wild!!!
This all is just not true when it comes to passenger trains. First of all the necessary first two ingredients are missing. We just hope that this train knows where it is going and all people boarding it are collectively only thinking and wishing to reach their destination as soon as this train can take them. Someone might get murderous thoughts on this one too but the mystery element is missing.
Ratnagiri-Mumbai Passenger train is a last minute planner’s fate, the only one that comes up as a result of search if you sit to book your ticket on IRCTC website a couple of days before traveling. Yet, in its beginning days when train from Ratnagiri was itself a novelty, I have looked forward to this train, especially right after the monsoon (during the monsoon, the heavy rains of Konkan can only make you want to sit at home). I really don’t have to describe the Konkan region during this period but boarding this train is a surreal experience of its kind. The otherwise too many tunnels play a major role in this. The train enters into dark tunnels that open at the end and give you brief glimpse of running streams, white waterfalls and lush greenery grown on mud patches in between glossy wet rocks, just a glimpse though, before it enters another tunnel. This time you wonder and wish the train moved slower, after all, it has to reach at the same scheduled time for which this speed is simply unnecessary.
The train starts as early as 5:30 in the morning. It is funnily(and frustratingly when you have to live it) ironical how you have to set an early alarm to catch it, walk through dark roads and feel relieved to spot rickshaw in the wee hours only to board a train that is in no hurry after it has passed few early stations. Its fate completely depends on timing of other trains and their drivers. This train is sidelined for every other fast train on the single track of Konkan Railways.
This time it wasn’t monsoon but March end, even so, the morning was cool and pleasing. Saw many green patches on the route and rivers that made an interesting first half of the journey. The other half you don’t want to know… Since then I’m thinking why we can’t have Darjeeling like toy trains for this route. Slow, then, will be fun.