1st from a 7-part series on the breathtaking adventures I undertook with the most amazing people…
“Guys, 10 minutes hai Delhi station ko! Be ready with your luggages”, shouted a figure from the anterior under a dim light and disappeared in the cabin. It was 5.45am in my watch when this woke me from my sleep. Loosening the muffler around my neck I looked around. Amidst the snoring and a few disturbed faces, everyone was deep asleep. Resting on the adjacent shoulders, heads wrapped in beanies, lay souls from the last year of college, soon to be graduates who in some months will be dozing off in their air conditioned cubicles in various cities when they set out in their careers. But the sleep they got while laying on each other in the Dilli-ki-thand-hawa couldn’t be bettered!
The window pane moistened with dew sparkled from the street lamps and the fog lights of the companion white bus that followed us in the overnight journey from Corbett. I looked through the translucent glass at the Delhi streets and deja vu’ed many shop fronts from the sightings during our arrival here. A smile came across that reflected in the pane as resting my hand on the faulty armrest, the reminisces came in fast and thick…
The taxi turned at the curb as I pulled out meticulously packed duffel trolley. Adjusting the backpack and fumbling some coins and I laid to rest the whining of the complaining cab driver, “Saab, chutta nahi hai!”.
Entering Bandra Terminus, I pulled out my cell, “At Platfrom 4? Alright I’m coming!”
Emerging from the subway, an oddly colored in shades of green and yellows, BDTS-Delhi Sarai Rohilla lay in front of me, unloading the cargo and uploading the excited souls onto the compartments. Adjusting the bulky bags and portmanteaus below the berths and dodging the TCs, beaming faces oozing with curiosity squeezed in the groups of four and soon the atmosphere inside the enclosed bogey turned into one that resembled an evening class at KJSIEIT. Disembarking at 12.45pm perfectly, by the time we got into Gujarat, the perfectly foiled theplas, dhoklas along with aloo parathas that came along with finely made home chutneys that the anxious moms had packed for the dear sons and daughters were passed across compartments and sometimes across B19 right from B11. Late night, as we entered a frigid Rajasthan, cups of coffee were handled; slowly passing till it reached the last man standing, fighting the urge to sleep. JBLs, Unos, Chinese Whispers meant the night stretched well past midnight. Then in the end came in gossips and some roasts, fresh and ripe.
The train swiftly passing through pitch-black North Indian plains had keen ears turned up inside those compartments savoring all they can that was served to them. Around 2.20am came Falna, a deserted station where we, now lesser in number as many sneaked quietly onto their berths, made amongst our many stops to taste the local chai and stuffing in North-Westerly air into our lungs. The lights went off in B11, so we now stood at the door braving the late night chill, raking up talks. It was 4 when we finally retired only to be woken up at 6 by eerie figures clad in white sheets waking up everyone in the coach, pity they forgot to cover the faces though!
Post some breakfast coupled with coffee, we decided to explore the train and taking the word ‘explore’ literally traversed from the engine right through to the last of the compartments, for no reason whatsoever! Delhi Sarai Rohilla came in the afternoon and soon we were on the road watching as the capital unfolded in front of us, passing through the famed Karol Bagh and lunching at Haldirams’.
Intricately carved in royal sandstone and sparkling marble, we entered the majestic complex of Akshardham famed as the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu temple. The main structure consisted of superimposed domes that rested upon pillars onto which sculptures and engravings were laid with utmost detailing. The insides were even more fabulous with the central dome carved out symmetrically housing many idols and huge paintings.
Small ponds and fountains formed the avenue lined with meticulously formed inscriptions telling about the rich culture and heritage that underlined the great structure.Going further, we came across a sunken garden that resembled a giant lotus and a minutely manicured lush green garden that was adorned with bronze sculptures of notable personalities in the Indian History,which now stood against the sun as dawn set upon the lawn.
Our very own Arc de Triomphe, the war memorial for Indians martyred in the First WW, an illuminated India Gate stood in front of us along with the names of soldiers engraved on it. The Amar Jawan Jyoti raged in front of it guarded by watchful army personnel above whom the three flags of the Indian Armed Forces fluttered completing a feeling of awe and respect for the great country of ours!
To Be Continued…
Read Ahead – GBL #2 KemptyFalls