We waited at the station. The train, due at 11:40 pm, was late by 10 minutes. Typical. I looked towards the horizon it would come in from, in eager anticipation. I felt a vibration in the tracks below, and the sounds of the train came from the distance.
Pick up the rucksacks, guys. Its come. We're gonna have to rush in.
He he. We were going to sit in the general class. Our first time. We scrambled in to grab our seats. The train will be gone within 60 seconds, we were told. It didnt budge for 20 minutes. We just sat there, feeling a tad silly after our frantic, hurried invasion of the carriage.
Now, trains have a tendency to do this to you, dont they? No matter how excited you are, you fall asleep in little time? Or was it just the fact that it was late at night? Anyhow, thats a little later. At midnight, we brought out the stashed fruitcake for Harsh, sang softly (not risking the ire of fellow passengers) and got him to cut it with a Swiss knife. The Gerrard jersey which was supposed to be presented about now had been conveniently left behind in the room, so we couldn't gift him anything. Sigh, the trip itself would have to do.
Looking around a bit, I checked up the people around us. This chap, with a moustache pasted across his face, was sleeping with his legs up against his chest. He wasnt very tall so he'd conveniently folded himself up on the seat itself. Another guy slept on his back, on the 2nd tier, his head resting on a small leather briefcase, and his feet lofted on a suitcase. One guy was sleeping up on the luggage-holding ledge you have on the side. General class is a bit of a free-for-all na?
Everyone, unanimously, was sleeping. Quite contentedly too. What else could we do in such circumstances? Within a few minutes, the conversation dried off and we plonked off too. There's never much space in a general compartment. So if you want to sleep, you lean and kneel and rest and lie on each other. I put my head on Pratik's lap, who put his head on my shoulder. We slept.
But only for a bit. I woke up, with a nagging pain in my back, and Pratik woke up, with a nagging pain in his nose caused by me waking up because of the nagging pain in my back. We re-adjusted. I sat straight and slept with my head against the wall, and Pratik put his head against my (mighty) shoulders. As my eyes closed, I saw another guy we hadnt noticed before. He was lying at my feet, on a sheet he'd spread on the floor. Probably came in while I was sleeping.
I woke up again, after what seemed like an eternity of hard labour. My back, my mind, my feet were numb, as though of hemlock they had drunk. The man beneath my feet had vanished somewhere. My half-open roaming eyes caught another new entrant, sitting clutching his head with both hands, opposite me. Why is he holding his head like that? Is he crying? The hands slipped off. His head gently rolled on its socket, coming back up. He was sleeping.
My eyes closed again. You've seen that painting of The Last Supper? How Jesus and Mary are supposed to be joined at the hip and lean outwards creating a whatever significant alphabetical space between themselves? Well, thats how we slept this time.
With a jolt, I was woken up. Several jolts. Harsh was shaking me by the shoulder. We've arrived! Quickly grabbing the rucksacks, we rushed out onto the station. It was 5 in the morning. Still quite dark. The full moon, a brilliant vermillion, stared down at us. I stared at it, wonderstruck. What in the world is that??
Lunar eclipse. Chal, jaldi kar.
Oh aah. We walked into the chilly night, laughing, smiling, carrying heavy rucksacks. Ready to try our first spontaneous decision, our first vacation together. Our first adventure trip.
Welcome to Margao Station (Goa), announced the lady over the microphone.
Note: More information and (eagerly desired I'm sure) vivid details about the fantastically suddenly planned trip and what followed, to come up soon enough. Watch this space.
Note II: As in, the space above this. Thats where it will come. Watch it.