Journeys serve different purposes for different people and different times. Some people are very fond of visiting newer places and get the first hand experience of the place. Although these days you can read about place and see pictures on the internet but personally experiencing the place is simply different. Many journeys are performed with specific purposes like visiting the distance relatives, attending some meetings, marriages and to be with acquaintances in the hours of distress. In India, journeys are seldom undertaken for the pleasure because of the shoestring budgets in hand. Work was the main purpose of the journey.
Curiosity is behind this propensity of journeying. Whatever we read and see through books and multimedia increases our curiosity to visit and see with our own eyes. Now one can very well imagine the curiosity of the primitive man because before him lay the whole unknown and unexplored worlds. He was always on the move as a hunter in search of kill. He seldom returned to the earlier destination which was but a temporary residence. This went on till he got tired of moving and the womenfolk who in addition to teaming with their mates for hunting also bore and raised the offspring, discovered that some grasses yielded the seeds which were edible and easy to grow. So whenever they stayed behind, they began planting the grasses. This decreased the dependence on the hunting and arrested their wanderings to a greater extent. Then they began keeping the cattle which added to the profit of the household.
This way our ancestors laid the foundation of stable residences. It also provided them with free time. The lactation period of the women decreased. The result was population explosion. Although mortality must had been very high but still the increase in population was very high as there was still no competition for food which must have been in plenty. Again the resources in the vicinity begun to feel the pressure and competition for food sent from time to time some groups of people to other places in search of food. There they adapted themselves to different climates and food items. Thus the variations in the structure and features began separating. The changes have been so drastic that many people shall not be ready to agree that once upon a time in the remote past all their predecessors were similar.
So we reached Nazira after harrowing experience. It was very cold there. In the winter, the sun goes down at about half past four in the evening. Those were the days when an extremist outfit called ULFA was very active. There were kidnappings and murders. So people ventured outside mostly in the daytime or under the protection of security forces.
We left in the early mornings and came back early. We went to see the Sivasagar town which was the capital once upon a time of Assam under the rule of Ahom kings. Ahoms came from South-East Asia and settled in North East India for good. Although in the beginning they followed Buddhism but converted to Hinduism and began suffixing “Singh” to their names. Thus the town of Sivasagar was founded by King Shiv Singh. It is a large town. There is a very large lake called Shiv Sagar. In fact the whole area has number of such lakes and the water in them is very clear. Adjacent to the lake is a Shiv temple called “Shiv Dol”. It is gigantic structure.
Most of the trading is in the hands of Marwaris which originally migrated from Rajasthan. In fact they are so enterprising merchants that there is hardly any place in the North-East where they have not set the shops. One reason for their flourishing in this part of the region is the indolent nature of the local people. There is many shops which sell the silk sarees and cloths. The silk is from Assam and Manipur and comes in three main varieties namely Golden Muga, white Pat and warm Eri Silk. These varieties are produced by the same silkworms when fed on leaves of different trees. Everyone who goes there purchases the silk along with the tea. You can see unending stretches of tea plantations everywhere along the main roads.
Then we visited the “Madams” which are very elaborate mud structures where the bodies of kings and other royal people are interred exactly in the same fashion as the Pharaohs in Egypt.
Days went by very fast and time came for returning. There was a train in the early afternoon and we went to Simulgudi station again. There people moving here and there confused and worried. There we saw a notice saying that due to “Bandh (strike)” in Cachar Hills all the trains going towards Silchar shall remain cancelled for next 4 days. We went back feeling helpless and thought of going to Guwahati and from there more trains shall be available for Silchar although we had to do a lot of useless journey. So we boarded a train after 2 days and it reached Guwahati at noon. The scene was not promising. I went to booking counter for a train inquiry and ticket. As usual no reservation was available on the counter. I caught hold of a tout and gave him extra money for getting the berth reservation. The train was at about 4 O’clock in the evening which meant we have to occupy the berths after sometime and sleep and reach in the early morning at Silchar.
But as the night approached, there happened a surprising thing in the train. There was no electricity in the train. On top of it, the train was over crowded and there was not an inch to move for going to toilet. The reservation did not have any relevance because on such trains which stop at every station people alight and board at every station. The train halted at some station where we procured some candles and a match box. Without light you could see the person sitting next to you. Sometimes I was afraid that if anyone of us moved, he or she could not retrieve the way back.
Somehow, the night passed and reached Silchar in the early morning. It was such a perilous journey.
The advent of winter in the North India brings in its wake many things. The biting cold requires us to fend off the winter with lots of warm clothes. But all are not so lucky.
There are poor who let alone the warm clothing are not able to procure the sufficient food to survive. They face the hunger pangs perpetually. Many of them cannot withstand the bitter cold wave and perish.
Then there is fog. Many a times it is so thick that there is no visibility beyond a few meters. This creates many problems for the transportation. So many flights are cancelled and trains crawl late. Many a times, unfortunate accidents happen. Fog creates a thick veil of white color. Sun is barely visible and its energy is very feeble.
Yet, there are good things also in the winter. You can enjoy many kinds of food like carrot’s halwa. There is a glut of vegetables in the market. Truck loads of these vegetables arrive in the vegetables market and sell dirt cheap.
There are cauliflower, carrots, radishes, turnips, green peas. Potatoes are forming below surface under the plants. The wheat stalks in the fields are persistently trying to ward off the winter and grow rapidly.
Here are some pictures of the Punjab in the winters.
It is the beginning of the month of April and Delhi has already become hot. The weather in India changes every 3 months. It is the spring season and soon sweltering heat will envelope North India. Dehradun which is situated in a valley between Lower Himalaya and Shivalik hills named after Lord Shiva.
We boarded the train from New Delhi Railway station at 06 hrs and 50 minutes and it is all sitting on chair cars. Due to being an AC train, it is closed with glass panes.
Soon we were hurtling through the vast plains of North India. The area is situated between two great rivers namely Ganges and Yamuna. It is called Doab meaning the land between two rivers. Naturally it is very fertile and featureless and totally flat.
There were never ending fields of wheat which looked like golden because the time of harvesting is nearing. Then there were sugarcane fields and carts yoked by bullocks and loaded with sugar canes could be seen on the beaten paths.
On the periphery of every field were poplar trees with translucent green leaves on the tops. If you have lived in this area only then you can realize the beauty of this area and sturdiness of the people.
My mind flashed back and I thought how once Mughal kings and their generals must had roamed in this area. Before their coming here, petty Hindoo fuedatories were there and they were always fighting between themselves. This lack of unity undone them.
Then came the British. The East India company established the army cantonments in Meerut and Ambala which employed these hardy people as the soldiers. These people belong to Aryan race and are the fairest and strongest in India.
Aryans first established themselves in Punjab between Sind river and 5 rivers. The increasing pressure of population and cattle drove them towards Ganges valley which was even more fertile than Punjab.
First city to arrive at was Meerut which still is the big cantonment of Indian army. Then Muzzafarnagar, Saharanpur, Roorkee and Haridwar followed. There was no change in the scenery of wheat fields till we crossed into Saharanpur and you could see for miles the mango gardens in the bloom. Soon they will bear delicious mangoes like Dushehri which is so sweet.
After crossing the Haridwar, we entered into woods. The trees were sprouting new leaves which were coppery colored and soon shall become greener. At 1240 hrs we arrived in Dehradun.
Here are some pictures taken from the train during recent journey from Delhi to Dehradun. It is April beginning. There are golden wheat fields, sugarcane and poplars. There are water bodies near Haridwar in which you can see the reflection of poplar trees.
The coast of India adjoining the Arabian Sea looks on the maps like a moth eaten book page. All along the coast are numerous beaches. The region possess extraordinary physical beauty.
There are small hills with very beautiful summits of varied shapes. Some look like a plateau while others like the sharp dagger like cliffs. Around Mumbai there are many good beaches. Farther you go away from the metropolis, the better are beaches.
One such beach is Kashid beach which is 110 kilometers away from Panvel, 160 kilometers from Mumbai and 35 kilometers from Alibaug which itself has many beaches around it.
On the way are beautiful rivers, woods and idyllic life. There are coconut and betel-nut palms. Bamboo also grows all around. Other bushes and trees, the names of which I am ignorant about grow all around.
We visited the beach. There were so many visitors. On the beach sand is very clean and white. The waves were gentle and sun shimmered on the waters and water looked like mercury. At other places where waves were absent, the water was beautiful green. There were horse rides as well horse drawn carts for joy rides. There were joy boats.
It was in December 2012. Continual rains for two days lashed Dehradun and Mussoorie hills. The temperature plummeted to freezing point and there was a snowfall in the Dhanaulti. Dhanaulti is a hill station about 30 km from the popular hill station of Mussoorie in Uttarakhand State of India. It is situated at an altitude of 2286 meters, and is known for its quiet environs amidst the alpine forests of Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak.
We planned to visit the place after 3 days of the snowfall. We did not expect to see any snow as we thought it would have already melted and vanished. Anyway we have read that from that place you can enjoy a beautiful view of Himalayas. We were also in two minds whether to drive in our own vehicle or hire a cab as the road is running in the hills in a sinuous manner and driving is very mind taxing.
We started in the early morning at about 8 clock. To reach Dhanaulti you have to go towards Mussoorie and take a bypass road about 10 kilometers before Mussoorie. It was brilliant sunshine. Soon the ascent began and there were curves everywhere. Along with the ascent, the temperature also began to drop. It was nearing 6 degrees Cecilius. Chill was biting the toes and numbing them. Heating had to be resorted to for keeping us warm.
We reached the bypass. From there we took a right turn and were on a road which led us to the bypass road to hill station. The route was very narrow and two vehicles coming from opposite directions could pass each other by inches only.
After this the road ran on the brink of hills. On one side of it are hills and other side very deep gorges. There were beautiful trees on the hills. Also there was a particular shrub which bore small red flowers. These shrubs grew on the walls of hills.
On traveling few kilometers, suddenly we were treated with a spectacle of breathtaking beauty. Himalayas studded with snow beckoned far off. Then there were zigzag hills showing there crests and troughs all around. There were herders herding the goats. At many places we found a novel way of storing the dried fodder by hanging the bundles from the tree branches.
Occasionally, we came across people working on the road and women who were coming with pitchers to fetch water from the newly installed water taps. It indicated that they have to travel miles for this water and it constituted a major chore for them.
When Dhanaulti was about 15 kilometers away, I spotted the white sheets of snow on the slopes of fields. Soon the roadside was also covered with snow which has become hard and looked more like ice at many places. At many places the snow was present in good amounts.
Dhanaulti is a very small hamlet of few houses. There is a one Eco park in which you can walk the slopes to reach higher heights and see the scenery more explicitly. There were snow patches which were thawing slowly. Majestic Pine trees stood straight with their conic leaves. They looked bluish against the snow white tops of yonder Himalayas.
Crossing Dhanaulti and going 10 more kilometers is a temple called Sirkunda Devi. The head of Sati, wife of Shiva, fell here. Various other parts of her body fell at different places and are extremely pious places in India. But the Temple is located atop a very lofty hill and you have to go on foot. It takes about an hour to go up and same time to come down.
We returned without climbing to the temple. On the return journey, I was thinking to skip Mussoorie from the trip but my wife would have none of it. So we drove on a very narrow road towards the place. On reaching the Mussoorie the roads ran almost along the doors of houses and it was awful to drive. I even thought how the vehicles have been able to reach here or once arrived have they ever left this place.
I was thinking about Ruskin Bond the famous expat English author of children books and the books like “Flight of the Pigeons” . He lives in Mussoorie. I saw in a documentary made on his life that he frequents a book store in the evening where he meets and talks with his fans and autographs the books they have purchased.
We went to Goa, once upon a time Portuguese dominion, and now a state within Indian Union. in 1510 Portuguese who were in India for trade took control of Goa and ruled it for 450 years.
It is admixture of Konkani and Portuguese cultures. Everyone knows that alien powers came to India for its resources like fabled spices of Kerala where Vasco da Gama set his foot and set the process of rat race for the natural wealth of India.
Spreading Christianity was the another motive, although it was never their intention to treat the converted locals as their equals.
The inhabitants of a region who are content and happy with whatever the nature has bestowed upon them. They are not adventurous. This was what the people in different regions of India were.
The outsiders easily took control of the resources and subjugated the original people. All the European adventures came in search of spices, minerals, cotton and so many other resources available in India. Goa was taken by Portuguese.
But Portuguese also carved the Goa which is now a days entirely different from other places in India. It is a favored destination of tourists from Europe and USA. Many places in Goa do not give you any indication of being in India. For example, Palolim which has a very beautiful beach, is full of white people. They live entirely a life of complete abandon.
They also gave the world a unique cuisine which is blend of Portuguese and Konkani food. Usually everything is cooked in the coconut milk. Coconut which grows in abundance in the region.
While traveling in the train, one can see a solid wall of coconut trees. Another item on the food menu is sea food consisting of dishes made from prawns, crabs, fish and mollusks. Many dishes are prepared using pig meat.
The cashew nut trees grow abundantly. Portuguese invented an alcoholic beverage from the cashew nuts called “Feni”. Although it does not tastes great and generally not liked by most Indians outside of Goa, I found it to be good. I gargled my mouth with it and my toothache was soothed. It also seems good for body in moderate amounts.
We started for Goa from the Panvel near Bombay by train in the early morning. The train is called Satabadi Express and runs quite fast. It takes about 7 hours to cover a distance of about 700 kilometers. It is a single track meaning trains running in both the directions run on the same track. The trains which are ordinary coming from the opposite end have to wait on the spare track on a railway station till the faster train crosses that station. Thus the time taken becomes inordinately long.
Konkan railway track from Mumbai to Goa is a marvel of technology. The track has been made by cutting through the hills, making numerous tunnels and bridges on the many rivers emptying themselves into the sea.
All around are lush green woods, dotted with fields and houses. There are coconut trees, some of them bending towards the river waters as if to touch the river. There are hills. Some tunnels are so long that it seems that train will never come out of them. Suddenly you see the light and train is out in the open but only to enter another tunnels. From this pattern, it is clear that there are parallel rows of hills and track is running across them. The trend continues till the train reaches Madgaon station.
Our company has a training institute located at Betul. It is situated on a hillock. Because we had booked the rooms there, we took a pre-paid taxi for traveling a distance of about 20 kilometers to reach the place. The road is very narrow and sinuous and it seems that people live only along the roadside.
There are churches in every locality. Also there are small statuettes of Christ and Saint Xavier encased in the glass boxes. Taxi crossed many rivers small and big and then began the steep rise of 1.5 kilometers leading to the hostel. We checked in and being exhausted waited for evening tea time and after taking the tea and snacks, rested in the rooms and took the dinner at nine o’clock in the evening and retired for the night.
Next day after taking the breakfast, we went out to the gate of the institute and guards told us that there are buses available for going to Betul or Madgaon. There are some shops serving snacks nearby the gate.
Strong smell of Feni were issuing behind these shops. Toddy in bottles was kept on the wine shop counter. Bus arrived after a short while and we boarded it. The bus made great noises as its windows rattled. Loud music blared inside the bus.
There were passengers inside the bus who made signs of cross every time the bus passed a church or Christs statute. The must be the Christians. Since they don’t resemble the Portuguese people, their forefathers must have adopted Christianity during the Portuguese rule.
After about an hour the bus reached the bus stand in Mudgaon. By this time at about 11 o’clock, it became very hot. We again boarded a bus to go to Palolim beach which is in the extreme south of Goa bordering Karnataka. This bus was very slow because as soon as it left a stop the bus conductor blew a whistle to stop for another.
Interestingly we saw the bus waiting for passengers to come out of house and lazily board it. So after 2 hours it reached the beach. The beach was full of foreigners and women attired only in undergarments were lolling on the beach. They were soaking there sun starved bodies lying on the sand.
Along side the beach, there are shops offering wooden platforms for lying down in the sun and watch the beach. The steamers owners pester you and tell for taking a ride in the boat. After bargaining we boarded a boat propelled by an diesel engine.
The pilot took us into the deep blue sea surrounded by the rocky mountains. He had promised to show us the dolphins which he did and we could see three four of them diving in and out of water. Then he took us further away to a place called butterfly mountains so called because of its shape resembling a butterfly. There we saw a kite which was holding a snake in its talons and flying away to a tree in the rocks where its chick was waiting for the food.
The guide also pointed to a very small beach in front of the rocky hills and told us that it is called honeymoon point. Eventually we returned and somehow jumped out of the boat on the shore. After this we searched a shop for the lunch. In Goa if you order vegetarian fare, it will take a long time since most people eat the sea food. We return by similar kind of bus we had come in. Again it took 2 hours. Then again we caught the bus to return to hostel at Betul.
Since it was evening and night fell soon, the bus was crammed with people. The bus conductor see to it that not a single corner remains unfilled. Again the loud music. There were fancy lights every where on the way as if some festival is permanently on. We reached the hostel tired and exhausted. After taking the dinner, went to sleep and rejuvenating for another tiresome day.
Next morning we left for Madgaon by the same bus and reached Madgaon bus stand. There is a bus service called Shuttle bus service to Panjim, the capital of Goa, which is really very good. No standing and no stops on the way.
The road is NH-17 which goes to Bombay via Panjim. There are hills on the way running parallel to each other and bus road crosses each across each of it. The route is very beautiful. There are fields of paddy dotted by coconut palms. As such there are dense palm groves. Bus passes through an industrial area. The bus arrived in bus stand of Panjim.
From there we caught a local bus to market and alighted in front of the Mandovi river. There were barges ferrying the huge amounts of sand from the old Goa side. It was pleasant. We tried to hire a self driven car for visiting the interesting place near Panjim but the plan did not materialize.
It was lunch time so we entered a hotel which was doing extremely good business and we have to wait for 1/2 an hour for the table. We took the Goan thali which consisted of prawn curry in coconut milk, mussels, crab in coconut curry and a big piece of fried fish called surmai (king fish) and rice.
After this we roamed around and visited the local vegetable market. On the walls were sketches made by the Goan painter Mario Miranda depicting the life of Goa vividly. As he is a cartoonist, he does not draw the figures exactly but exaggerates the points he wants to emphasize.
For example, there is a fisher woman carrying a basket of fishes. One of the fishes is trying to jump out of the basket with its open mouth with teeth visible. Crows are sneaking in and pilfering the smaller fish. Similarly there are women with elongated breasts.
We sat on the banks of Mandvi river. Sun was shimmering in the water. There was a partial moon hanging in the sky and it seemed to waiting for the Sun to hide away in the West. It did not know that by the night will be there, it will also have traveled away from the sight. There were three or four ships which have been converted into Casinos. They come alive in the night.
After this we decided to go to old Goa to see the Basilica of Bom Jesus. It is about 10 kilometers from the Panjim. The roads runs along the river with small ships faring on the water ways. It was all in haste. First we went to the side of museum but it was closed that day.
But we saw the big hall where the large sculptures of saints are placed. There is a artillery piece of olden times outside the museum building. So we took few photographs and proceeded towards the church where the body of the saint is kept. So many people kept clicking the cameras.
The church has been declared World Heritage Building by UNESCO. It deserves to be the one. Credit goes to the Goa government for keeping the place in spic-n-span condition. In many states of India many heritage buildings are in the ruinous condition and may be lost forever.
The saint who spread Christianity in the Goa performed many miracles. The local people were awe stricken and many of them adopted the christian religion. He died in 1552 at Sancian from fever. His body was brought back to India. One of his arms is displayed in a reliquary in Rome and other was intended for Japan but was kept at St. Joseph’s Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum of Colane island. The saint is called “Goencho Saeb” by the local people in Konkani language.
The saint is accused of heading the Goa inquisition which was established to punish the heretics especially the new converts which were believed to be reverting the practicing their old faith customs.
In a hurry to go to Madgaon and Betul we left the place and followed back in same route buses. Next day, we called a taxi for which we have to inform the receptionist a day before, for going to railway station for catching a train for Ratnagiri.
Again, there were sketches by Mario Miranda at the station. The train rolled out of the station and I was left with a sense of unfulfilled desires because I could not see many places of interest in the short time. If you go to such a place as Goa where things are spread across a large area and you have a short time then you have to buy the time with money otherwise most of your time will be wasted in the journey only.
Boats evoke mysterious feelings in most of us. The scene of a far off boat on the river water looking like a speck is etched permanently in the memory of those who had seen this.
It is the feeling of departure of some one close to us who is going away. When the fishermen leave for high seas for their occupation of catch, their families wait anxiously with baited breaths for their safe return.
Sea is full of hopes, despair and surprises. Same is the story of life which wobbles on the surface of sea of life. Many a times the fishermen had a windfall, at others, even after spending so many days in the sea, nothing comes in the hand.
Many a times, we have to battle with the difficulties of life like the old man who comes victorious from the jaws of death in the epic book “The old man and the sea” by Ernst Hemingway.
Those who live near the shores of rivers and sea are familiar with the boats sailing on the water. They inspire so many songs and pages of the literature. Boats enrich their literature and provide metaphors for many events in our lives.
For example, many of our saints who lived in the towns situated on the banks of great rivers like Ganges, had compared the life to a boat floating in the turbulent seas of this samsara. They urged the God to steer the unstable boat whose sails have become tattered facing the strong winds to safety.
Now this is the story not entirely about journeys in the North-East but it illustrates the problems faced by people working in that area during 1991. The story again pertains to Silchar where I was posted from 1987-1991. Nowadays, it is only 3 years stint and you are transferred to another place in India but at that time there was no such strict rule.
On my transfer from Silchar to Mumbai in 1991, we decided that we shall proceed to our home at Chandigarh where family shall stay and I will go to Bombay and find accommodation there. After securing the accommodation the family will also join. The household goods were to be transported by truck. From Silchar to Calcutta, our company allowed its employees to travel by air to cut short the journey period. But from Calcutta to Delhi we had to catch Rajdhani train.
There was no train ticket booking office in Silchar at that time to book berths for the train. We had to rely on our colleagues who did 14 days on and off pattern duty. Many of them went to their homes in different parts of India and were frequently using the train services.
They all had fixed one booking agent in Chitranjan Avenue in Calcutta who booked the their tickets. Tickets were collected by them and delivered to the concerned colleagues. Sometimes, after alighting from the plane at Calcutta from Silchar, the tickets were collected from the agent enroute to airport.
So after spending 4 years there, I was transferred to Bombay which is the most important center of our company because almost half of the crude oil is produced from the offshore of Bombay. Naturally I was very excited and nervous. Nervous because we had heard that there was a problem of finding good residence in the overcrowded megalopolis and everyday one has to spend many hours of the day in the journey to the office from home and back.
All the flights to North-Eastern sector operated in the morning because there was no night landing facilities available. The airport at Kumbhigram was a wooden building and a strip which was maintained by Indian Air Force (IAF) because basically these were airbases for the Air force. We reached the airport in taxi and one of our friends who hailed from Silchar and who was a great help for people coming from rest of India on postings accompanied us. We had two small kids at that time.
Our luggage was sent for loading and we were given boarding passes. The sky was deep blue and there was not a speck of clouds. It was a perfect weather. Now everyone was waiting anxiously for the arrival of the plane.
It was a hopping flight from Calcutta. Its first stoppage was at Silchar and then it used to go to Imphal from there back to Silchar on its way back to Calcutta.
The expected time of arrival was approaching fast but there was no sign of plane. Wait of minutes turned to hours. Anxiety of missing the train at Calcutta due to late arrival began building in our minds. At one stage we decided to take back our luggage and return to Silchar.
But the people at Indian Airlines which was the sole travelling agency at that time told us that tickets shall be cancelled to be rescheduled in any case the flight did not arrive. He further helped us and brought the luggage and allowed us to take it with us in the cabin so that we did not have to wait and loose precious time waiting for its arrival at Calcutta airport.
There was a great anxiety about missing the train at Calcutta and stranded at the big city. At last the plane appeared on the horizon. It was delayed at Imphal where one of its tyres burst during landing. The time of its take off to Calcutta was such that anything could happen.
We did not have the railway tickets with us and to add to the troubles we only had the address of the agent but had never visited him. It was with luck that we had a copassenger who had seen the booking shop and he himself had to collect his ticket. We had booked air tickets through one of our colleagues and railway tickets were to be collected from the agent on our way to Howrah railway station from Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport at Dumdum.
At last plane landed and we had only an hour with us in which to collect the tickets and board the train. Thankfully the day was Sunday and there was not much traffic on the road. We told taxi driver to wait on the road because the agent’s shop was in a side alley.
I and my friend ran to the shop and after reaching there found the shop which was located on the 2nd floor of an ancient building and was closed due to Sunday. Our hearts sank. Time was slipping like sand from our hands.
Someone told that the fellow lived very near to the shop. We knocked and he came out and went to his office telling us stay on the ground. He tied the tickets with a thread and lowered it so that we could catch the tickets. In turn we tied the money and he pulled it up. Running we again boarded the taxi. It was quite hot and kids were thirsty and restless.
We prodded the driver to drive very fast. He understood and we arrived at the Howrah railway station barely 10 minutes before the train was to leave. Running with kids and luggage in our hands we managed to board in our bogey. We were perspiring but felt as if we had won a great victory. Children were given cold drinks and settled down. Our panting heartbeat slowed down and returned to normal as the train left for Delhi.