A railway station is a place where trains arrive and leave. Hence it is a very important place in every city. One can find here a cross-section of people. People belonging to all castes, creeds and religions can be seen here. This place is full of hustle and bustle. It is accessible to both the rich and the poor. There is always a great rush at the platforms. Everybody seems to be in a hurry either to get down from a train or to board a train.
Last Sunday, I went to the Delhi Railway Station to see off my elder brother, who was going to Amritsar. We took a three-wheeler scooter and reached the station at 9.15 p.m. The Punjab Mail which goes to Amritsar was to leave at 9.55 p.m. Many taxis, scooters, Tongas and rickshaws were standing in rows inside the compound of the Railway Station. A few traffic policemen were standing here to assist the incoming and out going vehicles.
At the booking windows, there were long queues of people who wanted to purchase railway tickets. Some policemen were on duty to maintain order. They also kept a vigil on anti-social elements like pick-pockets and confidence tricksters. Some people were standing before the Enquiry Office to get information about the arrival and departure of various trains. I purchased a railway ticket for my elder brother and a platform ticket for myself. I asked the coolie, who was carrying our luggage to rush to Platform No. 10 from where we were to catch the Punjab Mail. When we reached the gate, a railway ticket checker, in a white uniform, checked and punched our tickets.
Image Source : thehindu.com
There was a big crowd of passengers waiting at the platform. While some passengers had very light luggage, others were carrying heavy luggage. All passengers seemed to be in a hurry. They were worried lest they should miss the train.
There were a number of stalls on the platform. Some stalls were selling light refreshments, while others sold the latest books, magazines, newspapers, etc. There was a stall selling fruits also. Hawkers were also moving up and down. They were selling tea, biscuits, pakoras, puris etc. A few railway employees were seen serving water to passengers.
I went to a bookstall and bought a few magazines for my brother so that he could read them during the night journey.
I saw that a number of passengers whose names had been placed in the Waiting List were trying to contact the available railway staff to find out if they could get reservations against cancellations. Their faces bore an anxious look.
The railway authorities were making announcements on the mike as to whether a particular train was running on time or was likely to be late. The number of the platform from where each train would leave was also being announced for the information and guidance of the passengers.
After every few minutes, trains were either steaming in or leaving the station. Streams of passengers were going in and out of the station. It looked as if it was a big fair. Most of the trains were fully packed. There was no room even for standing in the compartments.
I saw many emotional scenes at the platform. Some persons had come with garlands to receive their relatives and friends. Those who had come to see others off waved their hands to say goodbye to their dear and near ones. These scenes were very touching.
Suddenly, there was an announcement that the Punjab Mail bound for Amritsar was arriving at Platform No. 10. All the passengers on the platform stood up. Coolies picked up the luggage on their heads. Parents held children by their arms. When the train arrived, some young passengers boarded it when it was still in motion. Others boarded it after it stopped. Within a few minutes, the train was fully packed. My brother got a seat with great difficulty.
At 9.50 p.m. the guard blew the whistle and waved the green flag. The signal was already green now. The train started moving out slowly. I waved my hand and said goodbye to my brother. Soon the train picked up speed and was out of sight. The platform which had hummed with life a little while ago, now wore a deserted look. After seeing off my brother, I came out of the railway station, hired a scooter and reached my home at 10.15 p.m.
"Your train has been delayed and you are waiting at the railway station. Give a vivid description of the hustle-bustle and confusion that is so much a part of the place."
At times due to unavoidable and unforeseen circumstances a train gets delayed. This time when we were going to Darjeeling and the train was delayed for nearly three hours. I remember how we were hurrying about to get to the station early so that we do not miss the train under any circumstance. To, our surprise we were more than early at the railway station. The Darjeeling express was delayed for nearly three hours on account of intense fog and unfavourable weather conditions; and we were there at the station three hours before the train would actually arrive at the station.
In these circumstances, one can only wait and there are no two ways about it! In the course of waiting for the train to arrive, it was quite entertaining to take a glimpse of the railway station with its hustle and bustle all around. We could see throngs of people walking in and out of the platforms. There were crowds of people at the station. The first thing I noticed that a good number of people were at the enquiry counter demanding information and the reasons for trains being delayed. The officer at the enquiry counter had no choice but to repeat the same answer to all the passengers enquiring about the status of the trains.
Once the passengers understood that the train is delayed, they started finding comfortable locations in the station to rest a while. Some passengers went to the rest rooms, while others sat on the platform after spreading some newspapers or bed sheets. It was amusing to see vendors moving to and fro the station with different types of goods for transportation in hand carts. Some of these hand carts were carrying passenger luggage as well. People were busy buying eatables such as fruits, food items, biscuits, distilled water bottles etc. for the journey from several shops inside the station. Vendors selling tea and coffee were doing their rounds almost every ten minutes. Apart from this there was a restaurant inside the station catering to customers from all walks of life. The restaurant was crowded with people having their meals that ranged from Continental, North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and Bengali food. There was a good deal of commotion at the railway station. In the meantime I also started to feel hungry. My father picked up some Chinese food for me.
It was almost close to three hours and it was time for the train to arrive. We got our luggage ready and were hopefully expecting the train to arrive at the station. It was such a long wait! But suddenly I got a glimpse of the engine of the train. I was overjoyed! I was happy that finally the wait was over and now I would be on my way to Darjeeling soon. As soon as the train stationed itself on the platform, we got in and settled down in our berths. In a while the guard waved the green flag signaling departure and the train left the station. My heart exclaimed - Hurrah! We are on our way to Darjeeling!
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