Rima*, 26, works at a publishing house in Delhi.
On a pleasure trip
I had met Sahil online. We soon got close. He made me laugh and I spoke to him for long hours. We never said it to each other but there was some connection, that made me do what I did this January.
I decided to travel to Kolkata, my first time ever, to surprise him for his birthday. His birthday was on a Sunday so I thought I would take a train on Friday, reach on Saturday, celebrate and leave on Sunday. It was an adventure to make him happy and please my own sense of excitement.
I got a ticket for Rajdhani on Tatkal! Super achievement, right!. I concocted a tale at home. I didn’t want my parents to get all stressed about me hopping on a train to go and meet some I had met online! A close friend was getting married against her parents wishes so I was going for support and I would be back on Sunday.
Get, set, delayed
I wanted to travel on my own and I had never been eastwards. With butterflies in my stomach, I reached New Delhi railway station. The place appeared to be more chaotic than usual if something like that is even possible!.
I quickly understood why it was so. It had been foggy over the past two days. Trains were getting late, some were canceled and my train hadn’t made it back to Delhi from Kolkata! Thankfully, they didn’t cancel mine but announced a seven-hour delay. Now that I had spent the money on a ticket, I’d decided to go through with the journey. The excitement of meeting Sahil and surprising him kept me going.
It was a cold misty night. After every ten minutes, someone would check the status of the train. Anyway, we finally began our journey at 1 a.m. on Saturday. Everyone hit their bunks and dozed off immediately. Next, we know, it is six in the morning and the train had barely moved 70 km from Delhi.
By midday on Saturday, I calculated that at its current speed, the train should reach Kolkata by 2 a.m. on Sunday. Now, where would I go in the middle of the night!
I had to call Sahil and lay bare my plans! He was super excited and I had to gradually bring him back to my conundrum. He finally said you can stay at my aunt’s place for the night and then we can spend Sunday together. He kept calling every hour after that!
By 5 p.m., the train had only reached Kanpur! At this speed, I would only reach Kolkata by 6 or 7 a.m. on his birthday. At least, I would have a few hours with him before I rush to the airport to catch my flight.
When we hadn’t made much progress till about 9 p.m. in the night, his voice started losing its happiness and he started apologising. I had made all the effort for him and it was going to be a big waste if this train ever made it to Kolkata!
Touch and go
I reached Kolkata at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, almost after a 36-hour train delay. I was the first person to deboard. I literally jumped off the train as it was almost time to check in for my flight. Sahil was on the platform with his hands stretched out. Ah, what a DDLJ moment. Only a bit reversed!
His mom had sent some super tasty sandwiches and it seemed that his entire family had been aware of my train drama.
He picked me from the train station and dropped me at the airport. And we were saying goodbyes barely after one hour of seeing each other for the first time! Even though he was super happy, he kept apologising for my train trauma!
He looked so cute, that I didn’t tell him. I’d rather enjoyed my journey! I love trains and hey the Rajdhani guys were feeding us and food was certainly better than what I got at the hostel. Besides, I also finished two books, something I couldn’t have imagined with my work schedule in Delhi!
It was a strange, long, memorable journey. It taught me the importance of cherishing the travel as much as the destination. Journeys are never wasted, and this one helped me to understand how important Sahil was for me. I realised he wasn't probably the one I would date, romance or marry, but a person for keeps and a friend for life. That’s worth some effort, right?
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.