Thursday, June 18, 2009

My tryst with the train...

Yet another weekend round the corner and a lot of people going home. Many cribbing how they couldn't get tickets to go home even on tatkal. I'm not a bus person and I always go home by train (an overnight journey). Inorder to avoid booking tickets on tatkal and paying more, I always book well in advance. Usually, Chinch, my cousin who works in chennai and I go together.
Last August as soon as bookings were open, Chinch booked tickets for diwali which was on October 28th, a Tuesday. So we'd leave from here on Friday, take a leave on Monday and leave from home on Tuesday night. WOW. A long four-day break with most of us cousins going home. Thankfully I did not have class outside campus that Friday. In the morning, I packed whatever little i had to. I had a discussion with 2 project students in the afternoon. By 2.30pm it started raining heavily. Even by the time the discussion was over by around 5pm, it hadn't stopped raining. It was flooded in front of the central library and it was a struggle to get to my hostel. My friend Shalu somehow managed to help me get to the hostel by 5.30pm. A friend of mine who was to come with me to Central (Chennai Central, the station) said that she would be going with her aunt. Since it was still raining, we decided it would be better if we hired a cab as Shalu knew the driver. It was definitely better than trying to find an autorickshaw. We called him and asked him to come to the hostel by 6. I had a shower and was ready by 5.45. We called the driver and he said that he was very near the main gate and that he expected to take another 15 minutes at the most. We waited for a while and called him by 6, he said that the cab hadn't moved much as there was heavy traffic and that he would come at the earliest. We waited for another fifteen to twenty minutes and he said that he was at approximately the same place. Though the rain had stopped, it was beginning to get dark. We thought I should wait at the Main Gate so as to save time.

We went to GC (the bus stop) and there was no sign of a bus in quite a while. We asked for a lift and got to the gate. We kept calling the driver at regular intervals and he said that the traffic was inching forward. I finally got into the cab and hoped the traffic would clear soon. It was the most jam packed traffic I had ever seen. It was so frustrating. He tried the route that expected the least traffic. Once we reached Adyar bridge, for the first time in my life I saw a hundred vehicles standstill. It wouldn't budge. I was growing highly impatient and glancing at my watch every few seconds. I felt I would reach sooner if I walked to the station.
Then after 15 minutes and prayers and my silent pleading with God, the traffic began to move. The driver assured me that he would get me there in time. After a while, we came to a standstill yet again. This time I began losing all hope. I was at the verge of breaking down. I had called my parents to tell them that I was on my way to the station though I did not tell them there was a chance that I might not make it. I informed Chinch of my whereabouts. She staying very near the station was leaving the hostel. By the time all this was over and we started moving, there was only half an hour or so left for the train to leave. Chinch called to tell me that she was at the station. Dad called to confirm if I had reached the station and I told him that I would probably miss the train after all. The driver too began getting skeptical though he said that if the traffic cleared he would try his best to get me there.
By this time, i tried convincing myself that it was only a train and missing it was no big deal. I don't know if it was the thought that I would fail in something even though it wasn't that big a deal made me feel so terrible; but I did.The traffic began clearing and it was only 10 minutes for the train to leave. I was hoping and praying that I make it on time. If I missed the train, it also meant missing a second cousin's wedding. A few phone calls to inquire where I was made things seem worse to me. Chinch was in the train wondering what she must do; whether she should wait for me. I asked to stay in the train; atleast one of us would get to go.The cab now sped the remaining half way to the station and the train seemed to be getting delayed. Though I was upset and dejected, I began telling myself that I might make it afterall...
Finally only 2 minutes from the station, while I was at the foot of the flyover opposite the station, Chinch called me up to say the train started to move. This... was the last nail on the coffin. I told the driver. My dad asked me not to bother trying to get on another train and asked me to return to the hostel. If it were the normal me, I would have got on the next train home but that night somehow I couldn't even think properly. Disappointing people was one thing I couldn't bear to do. Disappointing myself was the other.The journey back was quiet as I was unable to talk.. unable to even think things straight. Even the driver refused to take money as it was the first time a passenger of his had such a bad experience, I handed him the money asking him to buy his children something.
I came back. Dejected, disappointed, frustrated are all words I could use now. But all I felt then was that I was back. I couldn't even catch a train. I missed it.This was one experience that I will never forget. It was not something that I should've been affected so much by. But I was...I was always a sore loser until then. But ever since that day, I have learnt to lose gracefully. I have come to realize that no matter how hard you try or how much you want something, you cannot always have it.But this realization I gulped in a rather good fashion. That night I kept thinking that if I had left earlier I would've made it. If it weren't for the horrible human chain in the city that afternoon, I would've been closer to home. But more importantly, I chided myself for not keeping myself aware of this human chain that was planned beforehand. In that lay my mistake. I hadn't done all that I could.

The next day I read in the newspapers that the human chain had disrupted all traffic the previous day since afternoon. There were around 15000 people stranded that night at Koyembedu Bus Terminus and thousands missed their trains and flights.
Since that bitter experience, I have learnt to take blame for every mistake that I have committed without getting angry with myself.Whatever you do, give it your everything. Put in your best but never let the outcome affect you negatively.Thats what the Bhagvad Gita teaches us too.. 'Karmanye vaadhika raste, Ma phaleshu kadachana..'
I missed the train that night but it taught me such a valuable lesson.
Maybe, it was worth it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

At the rainbow's end....

Today, I saw the most beautiful rainbow ever ... In all my growing years never such a beautiful one..
I had gone for my math classes at a math institute away from the city on a very ordinary sultry summer 'noon in Chennai. After a couple of hours of class and rather fruitful discussion with my professor, I boarded the bus at 5 in the evening and waited for it to finally budge and give us the badly needed cool air which has but become a rarity these days. If there is something I despise about this city, it is undoubtedly the heat. I don't even know how to explain it! Having been born in Dubai and having lived there for almost two decades, I am supposed to have gotten used to the heat. But Chennai is hot in a different way. I have developed a knack of sweating and dripping even while sitting idle in my room with the fan in max speed, let alone when I go out in the sun. Even having bath four times a day doesn't seem to help! As a friend says, it is having bath that makes you sweat more... and I am beginning to believe it. Anyway, getting back to my colorful rainbow story.. I stuck my hand out of the window and felt a few drops of water falling on my hand. I indicated to a few friends in the bus that it probably was going to drizzle. A friend laughed it off saying the sky was clear and claiming it was the water being sprayed at the huge construction site beside the institute. I glanced at another girl and said looking up, will it please rain, I want to see the rain! Just then it started drizzling and my friend turned to me astonished at my profound prophecy.
The bus began moving we left the windows open to feel the cool breeze and the drops of rain splash across our faces. And then.... We saw the rainbow... oh so bright.. so beautiful in the backdrop of a light blue almost clear sky.. it was a sight I would always remember.. and just as we gazed at it, we saw another one a little above it though not as visible.. a friend studying engineering physics explained to us why there is a secondary rainbow with the colors inverted. But what I enjoyed today was an experience I would like to believe was a miracle of joy rather than a sheer physical phenomena of refraction of light through a spherical water droplet. At times I feel children should first be taught to enjoy nature to its fullest well before they begin to learn the science behind it. My eyes where glued to the sky for as long as I could see the rainbows. I saw the two arches completely and wondered, 'Does one actually have to reach the rainbow's end to find the pot of gold?'. The rainbow is God's way of assuring us that no matter how tough life is, it brings with it such goodness. Or else, how could I have imagined to feel the rain and see the twin rainbows on such a hot day... As I was smiling at myself thinking of God's little afternoon miracle, the bus reached IIT and we hopped off. I looked around and everything was as usual. As though all the beauty had been meant only for me. Yes, it was.. Today nature changed its course a little for me.. and I feel so loved.