This was a wonderful space to hang out in and share our thoughts! But now we've all moved on and simply left our memories behind :-) ...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Train ride to hell & back... (Ishita)

My most memorable train journey sadly is memorable NOT because I came across an interesting stranger ...though yes I wish it were so :)! It’s memorable because of a rather unusual adventure! Some of you who know me well have heard me talk of it often.

When my dad was posted in Assam, I once traveled from Delhi to Guwahati (in Assam) with my grandma by train. Now since dad was working in the Railways, we would travel via train quite frequently. This time my grandma and I were traveling in a Saloon. Those familiar with Railway life will know that a “saloon” is a stand alone coach which is like a house in wheels - with a living/dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. It’s used by rly officers to travel at work and is usually attached to the end of the train so as to help them inspect the tracks, etc. I’ve once lived on such a saloon for a couple of months…it was like living out a “caravan” adventure!

Anyway, it was a rather long journey but we loved the comfort the saloon provided and time seemed to fly by. We entered Assam early morning and were more or less ready to reach home by lunch time. When suddenly….20 minutes after we crossed the border…we heard a THUD…loud…and then the train gave several hard jolts….a screeching sound…and then SILENCE….the train stopped. Then we heard a wail…loud…pitiful. I was stunned. My grandma simply held me close and then she said what my heart already knew… she said “Bomb!” ….

At the time Assam was (still is to quite an extent) plagued with the problem of insurgency. Those were bad days there. Bomb blasts, terror killings were common place…a battle raged between the Government and the various insurgent groups there.

I gathered my wits and walked to the living room and we had one of the staff from my father’s office traveling with us and he came and told me “beta there’s been an accident…a bomb on the tracks…we don’t know the extent of damage yet but we have to get off the train RIGHT NOW”…I kept nodding my head but told him that my granma would need help getting off as the train was stranded in the midst of paddy fields and climbing off would be trouble for her and her bad leg. Plus there didn’t seem to be any sign of life nearby.

A village some distant away seemed deserted. Not a single soul from that village ventured out to help. Maybe they were scared. Maybe threatened not to help. Maybe they sympathized with the people who caused this to happen. I don’t know…

Luckily for us, the train had a lot of army people traveling. Many of them took charge of the situation and had people evacuating the area in a rather organized way. Some helped us get my grandma off and we walked along the tracks away from the train and gathered at a fair distance off…I guess that was when it all hit me that we very narrowly escaped death! I watched people all around me…most in shock, some crying, some dazed…I was scared, angry…and I ached to be with my parents. There were no cell phones back then so I had no clue how to contact them …I seemed to be in the middle of nowhere!

Meanwhile, back home my dad got the first call from the Control Room (he was one of the senior most officers of the Zonal Rly then) and my mom happened to pick up the parallel line at the same time… her heart sank as she heard the operator inform my father “Sir the *x* train has met with an accident…bomb blast… and there are many casualties” …My father did not accompany the rest of the senior officers team but had his driver drive him non stop to the nearest station to the accident site. Mom stayed home…waiting…waiting…to hear if we were alive…

….. It is a rather long account. I won’t get into details here. Eventually we did get home. A lot more happened in between. Of all that, the one I always tell people about is when my grandma suddenly felt faint and turned to me and said “Ishita I need my medicines” I said ok I’ll get u some water. She said “No no…I left my medicine box on the train!”….I was like... “Oh! But I can’t go back there” and yet I knew she had to take her heart medicines. I made up my mind and started the trek back to the train. One army chap ran up to stop me, “ Are u mad? U can’t go back! It’s too dangerous!”…. I simply said, “My grandma needs her medicines… I have to go!” He said he’s go with me, so we walked. I heard my grandma call after me “please get my Paan ka dabba too!”…. huh!?!! It was funny really coz here I was walking back to danger and she worries about her paan?!!!

Aah well, I also saw a side to my grandma that made me cherish her more. She reached out to so many people on that day…comforted so many strangers…hugged them close, cried with them…reassured them. All this from a woman who herself was so frail and ill.

Experiences like this and trust me I’ve had more… a plane journey that went horribly wrong… and being stuck in the SUPER CYCLONE in Orissa… well, such experiences have taught me a lot about treasuring what life offers me. I try not to take anything for granted…be it the lil moments of joy or the moments that upset me.

My biggest lesson - Life is unpredictable and u can lose everything in a split second! So value every bit of it and God knows I DO!

Ps: Sorry for the infrequent posts and I'm hoping this rather longgg one :P will make up for my absence (may continue to be infrequent though!)


  1. u exactly know what my comments are to this story.. and we had 3 longg session i mean 3 parts for this right? lol and u know wen i actually cracked up " mera paan ka dabba lekar aao"

    am really happy nothing happened to u
    HUGZ u r one BRAVE girl

    while reading this i went into flash back te way u were expressing what happened.. its a mix emotions u know what i mean? right?


  2. @ uttsy :)... i skipped the bit of the long walk from one end of the train to the other end...rem??! And how Thamma (Grandma) hugged the engine driver who got a burnt back... and he sobbed his heart out holdin on to her...

    even thinking about the that and the broken toys...ppl's suitcases..clothes strewn all over... the smashed coaches...makes me shudder!

    It's amazing that though many were one died...God was merciful..

    I need 3 posts to get it all in words and to do justice to this incident...*sigh*..

  3. ishi baby...

    i know lot of them have been skipped n edited by u.. but then i know how it feels and u know how i had my ears open when u were telling all this.. ( yaar goosebums aa raha ahi )

    but u were merely wat 13-14 yrs and then when u have that command on some army guys its a big thing :)

    god bless all

  4. Okkkk.... Quite an adventurous trip this has been and definitely terrifying too.. Hmm, paan ka dabba :P

    Life is unpredictable and u can lose everything in a split second

    Yep.. that's so quite true!! All the more true for me at this moment.. you know why ;)

  5. @ uttsy :)... I was petrified but I guess yeah I'm glad I kept my presence of mind. I think I was a calmer in my teens and am more emotional now :P

    your comments are encouraging ..

    thanks baby *hugggzz* enjoy ur wkend!

  6. @ J :) ... thanks and u know why dis one's for :)

    when life changes for the btr and u lose all negativity in a split second... the changes are sooo worth it!!

    and u'll live...don worry!! he he.. waiting to hear from u :P

  7. hey baby...lagta hai tumhare peeche aafat aati hai, jaha jaha tum jati ho....just kidding...

    we shared the cyclone adventure together...was our first trip post marriage!

    these things are learning experiences yes .. u didn't mention surviving earthquakes and floods?

    Well, someday you could write a book about it all or share these stories with our grandchildren ;)

  8. OMG Ishi I cant believe u experienced that! So very frightening!

    And I love the way u hv written was quite graphic.

    **Life is unpredictable and u can lose everything in a split second

    So true. what we have today, may not be here tomorrow. So enjoy TODAY. I always go by that.


  9. @ Rajiv... yep yep u've heard this a zillion times :) ... waise mere peeche tum bhi aaye so har waqt aafat hi nahi aati ;-)...

    *touchwood* @ sharing these stories with our grandchildren! *quite an overwhelmin thot there*

  10. @ kesh:) ... yep frightening it was! Nightmarish...i say a prayer before any journey now ...

    we live the same motto @ "enjoy today"... :)

    *huggzz* right back @ ya..stay smiling! :)

  11. Ishi I replied to u in my post above. Wut I was saying there was that I was sad reading this post that someone like u had to experience that!

    but like Rajiv said above, u hv come out STRONGER n WISER from it Ish. HUGGGGGGGGGZ!

  12. i cannot imagine myself being *living* in a train. Worst part would be restrooming in a moving train. Imaging taking a shower. as if in a state of perennial dance like govinda.

    you must have become tougher after such an untoward experience.. at times i feel it wud be so cool if ppl didnt have to go thru such tortures to get a better perspective of life.

  13. Hi ishita How are you ?

    awww...sacchi it mus have been so painfull at that moment when you were seeing everybody crying n shouting!!! I must say you are really Brave ... n dadima ko acche se bahar laye aap.

    Kuos to you :))

    Mera Pann ka daba ...hehehe :)) Too Good

  14. /*
    Life is unpredictable and u can lose everything in a split second!

    How true!

  15. I hv been to that place a few years back and completely feel what must hv gone thru u all...

  16. @ Kesh... thanks :) .. enjoy ur wkend and lukin forward to ur reply to d comment i left ya on ur blog!

  17. @ Jitendra:)... Trust me it's FUN @ living in a train :) ... kabhi mauka miley toh have a luk at these saloons...

    Life's like this kya kare...par sach hai ki i've seen one too many such instances...

  18. @ poo :) .. hey how r u? Kya haal London mein? m glad u do have access to blogs... yaha bhi post karo.. wld luv to read ur post!:)

    I dunno if i was brave .. i just didn't lose my nerve bas. Shayad acchi baat hai ki thoda sa late sab kuch sink in hua..

    yaa.. she was wunderful @ my grandma :)...

    ab tum bhi likho ek post .. waiting! ...

  19. @ aakash:) ... glad u got in to read this! How was the b'day evening? :)

    when do I see your post on either (or both?) these topics? :)

  20. @ rajbir:) .. i must say m glad u got here to read this and have ur say!! :) thanks!

    and m sure u've seen helluva lot more in your life... and if there's anyone who can visualize what I've tried to recreate in this post... it's you!...

  21. hey girl.. hugz... that was some post!... ur truly brave... how many of us would have the heart to go back and get ur grandmas medicines??.. im sure not many... ur truly a gem i tell u...

    and u have been through so many dangers... thinking bak.. i've had a rather laid back life...

    ishi rocks :)))

  22. i won't comment on this incident, as my share of experiences do not leave me in a position to even understand what ishi, her family and all those ppl in the train went through at that time!! all i wanna say is:
    "Life is unpredictable and u can lose everything in a split second! So value every bit of it"
    this is so true.... that's wot makes me happy and sad in a split second!! its just that the sad moments can get too overwhelming..... sometimes too much to handle!! how do you value it?? especially if it threatens to engulf your life!!
    anywyz, i am off.... will be back wen i'm bttr!! ciao.....

  23. @ messy:) ... aah yes that was some incident! Some times it seems so far away and unreal *sigh*... and yes when i think back I seem to have had one too many such incidents!!

    btw i must tell u that wen i wz in mumbai for d first time in 2005, on our return... our train was held up for an hour in Mumbai Central coz of a bomb scare (yep we had the cops and sniffer dogs checkin every coach!!)

    there see... i tell u I'm jinxed! :D

    luvd ur post *sigh*... i cld do with a trip like that ;-)

  24. @ sam :) ... and I'd wish u never ever have any such incident! *touchwood*

    its just that the sad moments can get too overwhelming..... sometimes too much to handle!! how do you value it?? especially if it threatens to engulf your life!! ... i know how it feels right there and then but life goes on and when u get past it, the good in ur life seems even better!...isn't that fact sam? :)

  25. 2 dasy back i wud have deabted u on dat.. but now i won't!! frankly, i wonder at times how we tend to forget teh lessons learnt just wen we prolly need it the most.. or may be we don't remember it.. just implement it!! hmm.... makes me wonder.....