05 January 2013

New Year Switch at Jhansi

Jhansi Railway Station
1st Jan 2013, 00:00:01, in a waiting room of Jhansi railway station dozens of guys and gals mostly from a peer group started cheering loudly, distributing cakes and also started wishing all the strangers around. For a moment I felt that it was some party where people usually celebrate the year switch with lot of cheers. It's the neo-mode of celebration from Gen-y, where people celebrate the moment on their own at public places, instead doing mudane things at home or a pub. Personally for me the dejection of being in a railway station for new year switch was completely annulled :) 

I guess all of us would face similar tricky situation in life, when you need to balance between personal passion and professional commitments. I had to make the most of my extended trip after Shreesh's wedding in Satna and had to get back to work for very first working day of 2013, and not to mention in an economical way. The major problem with the endeavor was that I had to spend the year switch celebration at Jhansi and most probably at railway station of the city. I took the plunge while planning since Seena was supposed to be with me unique off beat experience. When Seena dropped out from the entire trip due to professional commitments, executing this offbeat endeavour looked challenging but I still stuck to the plan despite all typical apprehensions. 

Diwan-e-Khas of the Jhansi fort, which was later converted into a tank by Britishers.
On top of all hindrances, my ticket back to Bangalore was not confirmed. It was in WL3 from the day I booked it till the penultimate day. So at noon time of 31st Dec, I had to prematurely leave charming place Orchha with a hope of some workaround/jugaad at Jhansi railway station, apart from some amount of sighseeing in Jhansi. After reaching Jhansi, I realised that there's not much to explore apart from the fort. The glamourous history of the fort was interesting but my sightseeing was disturbed by a few revellers in the fort, who after seeing DSLR in my hand started irritating me to take their portraits. Later, I briefly visited Rani mahal which was in a pathetic condition. I moved on towards the railway station to find out whether there can be a workaround with my WL ticket. 

There were no breakthroughs. More than 12 hours for the train departure and being optimistic about the ticket confirmation, I decided to relax for rest of the day in the retiring rooms at station itself. Unfortunately, the rooms were not available, the lady at the counter said with a flat face "rooms aapko nahi milenge" :) without any other choice around the station I got back to the city and checked-in at a room close to the station. From window of the room, approach tracks to the station were fairly visible and I could see various trains approaching the Jhansi station. Utilizing Indian Railway's then recently launched rail radar, I managed to identify a few trains. While doing train spotting, I got curious about a large unique structure in background which didn't look like a natural structure. Thru random googling I found out it's a statue of Dhyan Chyand, ace hockey player from golden era of India's national sport, whose hometown is historic city of Jhansi. 

Dhyan Chand's statue atop a hill

The train spotting went for a while but the apprehension of ticket not getting confirmed started lingering very frequently. It became quite intense by 4 pm when there was only one hour for chart preparation. Infact, there was no progress in WL, I started to think about plan B to Z. "Which are all the alternate options ? Can I board the Rajdhani Express without a confirmed ticket or can I go in some southbound train in an unreserved compartment to nearest major city with an airport and fly from there to Bangalore."For this brainstorming I made use of Ixigo's trip planner. Which is quite an efffective tool to find out options of traveling from one city to other also provides different combinations w.r.t time, price and distance. 

When it was the time to check the ticket status after chart preparation the battery of my netbook drained out completely and due to power shut down I couldn't put it for recharge. The only option left was to find out the status was through SMS. Then finally at 6.30 pm I got an SMS reply which scrolled elegantly on my Lumia phone with birth number and coach. The confirmation message put me totally in celebration mode and the new year celebrations for me started at that moment itself !

Around 10 pm, I managed to get to the station by taking a shared auto. In food court of the railway I couldn't even find a chair to sit ! I was totally surprised, since it was new year time I had expected a deserted station. The platform was also crowded but I managed find a seat just a few meters away from food plaza. Since there was 2 more hours for my train to arrive, I got into observation mode for passing the time. Majority of employees of food plaza were cribbing internally "WTH, I have to work on this new year night and my friends will be having a gala time at some pub". Even the Railway employees who were on duty at that time were cribbing for the same reason. Then, there were other category of people in saffron/yellow clothes, may be heading for then upcoming Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. They were absolutely not bothered about the celebration and were setting up their beddings on floor of the platform. In fact, they were double checking safety of their fat cash and were keeping it in a steel box :)

In between all this as the midnight approached, the platform got relatively crowded by Gen-Y people and they all cheered the switch from 2012 to 2013 at 00:00. Perhaps, railway station is the safest public place to celebrate new year in Jhansi !

Last but not the least it was time to wait for arrival of my train. After 12 midnight, I managed to find some space in the waiting room. Most of the people who were present were glued to the TV sets watching special coverage on mourning of people in New Delhi and other cities for unfortunate death of Nirbhaya(Delhi gang-rape victim). Finally, at 1.20 am train 12430 arrived in platform #1, bringing end to my sweet, short and unique endeavor at Jhansi.

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