Tuesday, April 18, 2006

anything for a vishu

I never had a clue what will happen to me and my journey back home on that vicious day, April the 12th, when my boss asked me, “What time is your bus? Is it going? You know that Rajkumar is dead and there are chances of minor violence in the city.

So what? Why should there be violence if he is dead.” Quipped an innocent me.

A little later a mail from admin read ….

All,

Dr. Rajkumar, the kannada movie star has died just now of a cardiac arrest. People staying in far off places or in sensitive areas can leave office for their houses. Pls make your checks about possible violence around the city before you start from office.

This instruction is as approved by the MD

Take care & Regards,

Admin

Then I knew the situation was not as I thought. I called up the travels people and they said as of then there wasn’t any problem but asked me to confirm before I board the bus. As people started leaving the office, I got a bit tensed and I too started to leave. Starting the bike I decided to take the same route which I take daily. At the East End circle I was greeted with a big burning tyre at the center of the junction. I had a mild stroke in my heart as I was seeing this kind of riot like situation for the first time in my life and also I had a good 6 kms to cover till I reached my house. Luckily there weren’t any problems on the route and I reached house earlier than expected. I cooled off my heels by watching the cricket match which was then mere a formality. I took bath, packed my stuff and at 6PM I called up the travel guys. The response was bleak, that they were not sure if they will start and all depends on the owner. They asked me to get back after 7. Panic Room!! I waited till 6.45 PM and I called them again when I lost patience. They had the same reply and this time they asked me to get back by 8PM. More Panic Room!!

I called up Abhi, Kich, and PP and asked about other possible routes. It was Abhi who suggested about Island Express leaving Bangalore at 9.50 PM. That was the last option even though I never preferred it. I was still pestering on the bus, and I decided to call them again at 7.30 PM. This time their reply was a bit rude (bored of my regular calls I guess), and said there is little chance. However they asked me to call them again at 8.

When I called them up at 8 there was no response. In the mean time I called up my home and told the situation. Achan was worried and said, not to come. But I wanted to go, it has been 2 years since I saw a Vishu Kani. I definitely wanted to go, some way. I had a strange idea of driving down in the bike, if nothing happened.

I decided to take a chance on the Island Express. So I consulted Abhi again, and thanks to his Company Bulletin Board, he adviced me to go to KR Puram station and not to Majestic or Cantontment. Reaching KR Puram was the next problem, as it was a bit far from my place. And there too help was at hand. I called up Kich and he was at his brother’s place and he said the KR Puram station was on his way back home and he promised to drop me there.

So I reach Kichan’s brother’s house after travellingaround 20 kms in bike. Had a quick dinner from there and left with Kich and Seena for the station. While we approached the station Seena told me that she saw a huge rush in the entry. Kich and me didn’t believe it first, but as I crossed the over bridge and went to the ticket counter the scene out there was extremely horrible. A long queue which had no end. For a few moments I kept on searching the end of the queue. Twice I thought over should I call it quits. But going back to my abode will be suicidal, no food for the next day as bandh was already declared and no Vishu. I was not ready to loose my Vishu.

And after some good encouragements from Seena and my home, I decided to give it a try and as the seconds ticked by. I decided. Come what may, I am going to get into this train at any cost.

There is god up above there. I am sure. Otherwise an ever so late and slow responding railway wouldn’t have started another ticket counter and that too near to the position where I stood. He was decided to pack me up from Bangalore. Or I was destined to watch Vishukkani and enjoy Vishu this time. In another 15 minutes I had a ticket in my hand to Palghat. A Hortis Malabaricus Vadakara Guy will now go to Palghat, catch a bus from there to Calicut and then another one to Vadakara. How simple it is?

The Platform was crowded and as the train rolled in I caught in a TTE and asked if there are some birth available. He asked “Are you Nuts? Go and get into the general compartment”. I went to the General Compartment. My first thought was How am I getting into it.. I walked through sides of that compartment and there was heat emitting from each window, heat of humans who were held onto each coupe in those steel structures. I knew my entry into it wont be possible and was not sure if I would reach there alive. Such was the public inflow.

I jump into the reservation comp with a general ticket, and found many a people there in the same condition. I made friends with some of them and moved from compartment to compartment as the TTE and Police approached. I also met 2 girls who were sleeping on the upper births when I got in, but came ruinning with us to escape the TTE’s as they possessed NO TICKET. (Who Said Pen Budhi is Pin Budhi??) We wanted the train to reach Banderpet as soon as possible as after that the next station is Salem and then its Tamilnadu and we are safe. And as the train left Banderpet I got some space to sit down and sleep near the vestibule besides the bathrooms near the doors. There was cold wind coming in through the doors which felt like ice on that hot night but the stench from the bathroom was enough to give me nightmarish wakeups time and again. At Salem the Police Inspector came in and gave us ultimatum to get down there or you will be penalized. When TTE came in we asked if we could stay there till Coimbatore as we would get bus and it would be early in the morning there. His reply was “Am I Fool, to let you in here with general tickets. Salem is the final stop or I will call the police.

At Salem we decided that we are not going to get down this train. We walked into the compartments behind that would not come under this TTE’s jurisdiction and boy what a scene was waiting us. People all around sleeping and sitting in every single space they got there. It was a tough ride looking for space as we moved across each sleeping person on the floor. Infact at one point I had to put my travel bag on my shoulders, lift myself up on my hands holding the two berths and wade across. Finally my gang got a place to sit besides to Ayyapan maar. May be that’s why we got away. Since Ayyappa Swami’s devotees shouldn’t quarrel at us. Swami Sharanam.

Our TTE again came like humiliated villain wanting to have his revenge on the innocent souls, but this time with the other TTE, because that compartment was his. Again gave us the ultimatum – “The train will be stopping at Erode fro 15minutes. All should get down and catch the next train from there.” Erode was an hour away from now and we thought we could replicate the same trick which we did earlier. But as we approached Erode both of them came in from each side of the compartment and started pulling people out, there were people sleeping and sitting everywhere, none of them was spared. I hadn’t any option other than to get out of the compartment, I tried boarding the next compartment, but there too TTE was present. At 4.10 AM in that cold Erode Station, I was left with no option but to wait for the next train towards Palghat.

Half an hour later Kerala Express ran in and I got into the general comp this time with not-so-easy-but-not-so-tough push and pull. As I got in I had to hold my bag on my one hand for another 2 hours till some space was generated at Coimbatore. Soon we reached Palghat and with the heaviness of standing in a jam packed train for 3 hours, but with the happiness of being in God’s Own Country I got down there, stretched my body, and walked to the nearest café shop I could see, didn’t bother to brush my teeth and ate Poori Masala and Chai. Mission Accomplished.

I got a Calicut bus from the near by junction, dozed of to wake up only three times at Perinthalmanna, Malappuram and Kozhikode Stand. Had a cool Soda Sarbath at Moffusil Bus Stand and caught my Vadakara bus. Reached home at 12.30 PM, just in time for lunch.

Next Day I saw Vishu Kani for the first time in 2 Years.

Looking back, I think all my hardships were worth it. Being with the family, playing around with my cousins, having a sumptuous sadya , giving away kaineetams and all the things I did on that auspicious day. Some things are just like that in life. No matter what is it in front of u, what ever is the stumbling block ahead of you, if you have that will to reach there then destiny will take you there.

And at this time I thank you guys – Abhi, PP, Kich and Seena – who made me attain that or rather helped destiny ;)

Happy Easter and Vishu.

PS: That photo is Kani at our Pooja Room at home. Check out another version of that at Pint's Pics.

10 comments:

Alexis Leon said...

What an experience. But as you have mentioned, it was worth it. Seeing vishukani with family is great. Hope you had a nice Vishu.

Krishnan said...

Good to know your prioriites are right :-)
btw i beleive im younger to u. kaineettam plz.

Dhanush said...

@alexis - Yes, definitely I had a great Vishu
@kich - Didn't you celebrate a birthday earlier in the year? My birthday comes after that. So there is no question of me being elder among us;). But then there is Mamioos who should give Kaineettam to all of us ;)

Ajay said...

hell. lucky you . at times life can be so fragile ...

Lekshmi said...

Nice to know that all your efforts were worth.Being with your family on Vishu is the most precious kaineettam, you can ever get. In the last 3 years, I got to visit Kerala only once. When I could see the 'Marathakappattuduppu',I literally ran out of my compartment to the train door to breath the same air, which gave me the first breath.

Dhanush said...

@ajay - Yea I am lucky:)
@lekshmi - I used to do that when I was in Pune and when the Kurla Express Enter Kasargode , It would be morning. Bright Green welcoming you with rising sun is a beautifull picture, you never forget.

pophabhi said...

Too good da. Its that thrill that made your Vishu even better - It will make it stay in memories longer.

And yes - I used to smell the air in Palakkad exactly the same way at early morning, usually by around 3.30 am - when I sit near the KPN driver's seat chatting with him. I could never sleep after midnight, just to smell the fresh air in our Keralam!

Suji said...

Good to know that you were able to see Vishukani with your family after going through so much trouble. Hope you have a wonderful year ahead.

Suneesh said...

hard experience....you might had never enjoyed Vishu like this time?

Dhanush said...

@pophabhi - Exactly Da.
@suji - Thanks
@Tp- Hard Experience, But definitely worht it dude. Ninte Italian Vishu Enganeyundaayirunnu ?