Over the period of time, I have come to believe that someone somewhere is jotting down prophecies about me in an language illegible by human. You know something is amiss, and bam that thing is amiss right then and there.
There is not a single moment of doubt in my mind about the prophecy of railway and me. Murphy had once said, if there is a fifty-fifty chance of getting something right, there is a ninety percent guarantee you will get it wrong.
During my junior college days there are people who sleep on the railway platform who used to watch me run after a train almost every day. Sometimes I even ran after it from front. This made one day, a homeless guy come towards me and said, 'You are never going to reach the platform on time.' Now that I think about it, his prediction would have been different had I given him some more money but that is another matter. But the worlds were etched, I can never reach the platform on time.
The traffic, lazy friends and missing socks helped fulfilling this prophecy time and again. Just when everything was going on time, they were joined by confusing phone calls, flat tires and one time, a cow, yes, a cow sitting in the middle of the street. The Universe does not play nice.
My first job was in New Delhi, which is so far the most confusing capital of the country.
It thus happened on the fateful day, I was busy drinking Ginger Chai dipping cream-roll on the new Delhi railway station, waiting for my train,'Sampark Kranti Express', to arrive.
The thing about Indian railways is that they do not obey the general laws of time. They have their own set of rules, if you arrive at the station an hour early than the departure, there is a guarantee that the train will be an hour late. Following the trend, you decide to relax a little and come a little sooner than the departure time and the train would be on time, causing you to rush inside it. Obeying this law, I had dutifully arrived an hour early. Had judged for fifteen minutes to decide if I should test the capability of my stomach to digest the chinese noodles near the railway station. Stumbled on two passengers sleeping, yes sleeping, on the platform. And finally settled for tea served in a cup that was questionably clean.
My train was busy following its own timetable and taking her own time to arrive. As I dipped the final piece of cream roll in my tea, there was a public announcement. A bored little clerk behind a mike announced, 'Rajdhani express is scheduled to depart on platform number 1'.
Platform number 1 was were I was waiting for my train. If Rajdhani was on platform number 1, where was my train?
There was fifteen minutes left for my train to depart and there was no train. No announcement and no information. I rushed to the train time table on the platform (it occurred to me that I could have done this an hour ago). The train time table, following the laws of railways, has its own laws of motion. It did not have my train on it.
I pulled out the ticket which contained a blurry writing of my train journey. Time of departure, check. Train of departure, check. Time of arrival, check. Platform number, check. And finally it dawned on me, a little late, station of departure, Nizamuddin Station and not New Delhi.
Without thinking a lot, I bolted out of the station to catch a local taxi. The taxi meter calculations in Delhi are done using a complex scientific calculator. And are further multiplied by an imaginary number. He spoke the arbitrary amount which I was not in any mood to argue with (if you argue well, you can subtract an imaginary number from the amount and negotiate it less than 50% of what he says but no time for that). Just told him to press on the accelerator.
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If they are ever looking for replacement for speed racer, this taxi driver could nominate himself. We raced to the street of Delhi and reached the Nizamuddin station in fifteen minutes.
Just when I was thinking I have missed the train, I saw her standing in great majesty at platform number 1. I took a deep breath and put one foot forward, the train started moving on.
And again, the old prophecy hit me, I was running behind a train godspeed.
I did catch it, yet again.