The coach was not where it should have been. B1, B2, A1, A2. But not B3. Not a good thing. Specially when valuable time was spent (and lost, as it would turn out later) zeroing in on where one would expect B3 to be. And specially when buying water was overruled in the favor of the dinner parcel that I carried. Water, afterall, was something that was available anywhere. Five minutes to go and I had to turn back — all the way back that is. Amidst the maddening crowd at Bangalore City’s Platform 8, reaching the other end of the train within 5 minutes — well, that would require some running.
The moment I found B3, I sighed in relief. Once in, I kept my stuff and rushed back to the door. There was this chubby, (very) overweight, middle aged man standing on the door, talking to a slightly overweight, another middle aged man standing on the platform.
“I need water”, I said, hinting him to make way but the train moved instead. The man on the outside volunteered — he was not to be on the train. Chuck it, said his friend. “Achcha kaam karne de yaar, mauka mila hai”, came the reply.
“Water, even I don’t have that.”
“All the more reason for me to get some! I’ve been skipping my morning walk, but thats another thing! Let me try!”
Together we looked on. Another marathon at Platform number 8. A train pulling out of the station and a middle aged man, trying hard to overcome the machine to get a stranger and a friend, a bottle of water. We bid him our goodbyes as he lost out, eventually giving up. The look on his face — he was probably cursing himself for skipping his morning walk.
Though I have my doubts if that really made any difference.
Inside, we sat down. Turned out, his seat was across mine. I asked him how much time would it take to reach Londa from Hubli.
“2 hours and a little more”.
“And from Londa to Goa? 3 more, I guess?”
Problem was, one of my long time fantasies was turning to reality. You ever felt, at the last moment of it all, to discard the plans and doing something entirely new? Like, letting go the idea of going to place X, after you have boarded the train and wanting to go to place Y?
God help you if the place you had originally planned for doesn’t fall in the way of your new found adventure streak.
I boarded this train with a ticket to Hubli. I wanted to go to Londa — so I was to extend this ticket. I had to decide what to do at Londa after I board the train. From Londa, I could go to Dandeli, the place I have been planning to go for more than a week now or I could go to Dudhsagar falls. But now, I wanted to go to Goa.
You see, I had suddenly realized how homesick I had been.
Everyone who has ever asked me why I love traveling alone should get a hint now.
After a talk with this gentleman which lasted more than an hour and which merits its own post on this blog, he volunteered to get me some water. He eventually managed some, courtesy of one of the co-passengers that I hadn’t noticed until then. Some water but not enough to make me last the night.
Meanwhile, my indecisiveness was scaling new heights. I knew I had to go to Londa in the morning and I would need to catch a train for that from Hubli. I wasn’t sure of what would follow after that. Of one thing I was sure though — When in doubt, head home and you’ll never regret it. Never.
Thirst drew me to the coach attendant. It was past midnight. I don’t remember being so thirsty, ever. I asked him if he could help me. He stood up, went to the small compartment he kept stuff in and gave me a bottle of water. Asked me to keep it — he had his own, another one.
“Sure?”, I asked.”Sure”, he said.
It took a large, long burst of water before the first signals of a quenched thirst came from my mind. That moment, I gave a long, hard look at the bottle. “Packaged drinking water; The choice of Goa — Aditya”, it said. I read again, the last statement.
Would it be vice-versa, I asked myself.
You bet — something inside me answered back.