26th September 2014 was a hectic day. There was a parent teacher meeting on occasion of half-yearly results at Malhar’s (my son’s) school. The packing was to be completed. There were a lot of last minute shopping, starting from chocolates to toothpaste, that had to be done. But everything was finished in time with a little bit of help from my mother-in-law who invited us for lunch. The post-lunch session was rejuvenated by the presence of my wife, as she returned from her work, utilizing her half CL. The afternoon frenzy settled into evening calm, when we dined and prepared for our voyage. With four days to go before Durga Puja it was TAXI trouble to start with. After a topsy-turvy move from our home to VIP Road and then to Udayan Club we were blessed with a no-refusal taxi who took us to Kolkata Railway Station.
The 12496 Kolkata Bikaner Pratap Express was due to arrive in platform no. 1.The platform seemed to be filled with so many people in a festive mood. Many were going back to their native place to celebrate Navratri. Others, like us, were travelers or pilgrims. Suddenly all my stresses were relaxing. The entry of the train into platform created a jostle, so familiar in Indian railway platform. After the commotion settled we ventured our way into the compartment. No sooner had we entered the coup we were greeted by the Lalwani family, our gentle neighbors for the journey up to Bikaner. And before long I found Neeraj sharing bhujia with my son. The train started on time and after the first round of introductions we were busy pulling up the bunks and settling in our respective berths. Malhar was on his maiden train excursion where he had the entire lower berth at his disposal. Like a prudent father I was pulling up his blanket to keep him warm, and he kept pushing it down, as many times as I tried to comfort him. Ultimately we fell asleep.
It was after a good night’s sleep, that we woke up to find that the train was running late by more than two hours. Well, to make matters worse, we soon realized that that train lacked a basic amenity – the Pantry. That meant no food, water or tea except at the stations. We were carrying some food which quenched our hunger, but staying without tea was difficult. When we reached Mughalsarai, I collected the lunch from IRCTC stall, and water and dahi from a local stall. But most of all we could have our morning tea after 11. Anyway the packed lunch from IRCTC stall was good and reasonably priced.
After Mughalsarai the train stopped more than it moved. Then suddenly I found we were at Mirzapur stopping by the bridge I wanted to shoot so may times. Before I could bring my camera out the train started moving. However, I could manage a few snaps from my mobile camera. The Mirzapur Bridge (built in 1715 by Mahant Parshuram Giri) over Ojhla rivulet has drawn my attention because of its minarets looking like a fort. I would definitely stop one day at the Mirzapur town and walk over the bridge.