Prospects of missing the train

Everytime I plan to visit a new place, the excitement gets over me. Then there comes a feeling what if everything does not go well? There are hits and misses in everyone’s life. But some incidents trouble us more than the others. We learn from our mistakes, and our next planning improve from the past failures. Fear of missing trains must have troubled everyone who travels regularly.

The first time I missed a train was when I was travelling from Howrah to New Delhi by Poorva Express. It was 1st July 2006. The train was scheduled to leave at 9:25 am and I thought I had reached well in time when I checked my watch to see it was only 8:20 am. I enquired about the train to a TTE, who was standing in the platform. It is a common practice in Kolkata and Howrah to ask Samaritan Railway Staff about trains who willingly tells us every detail of the train, time of departure, platform number, etc. To my utter surprise the person replied oh no, you have missed the train. I showed him the ticket, it is supposed to leave at 9:25 am, I said. Don’t you watch TV, today is 1st July, time table has changed, the train left at 8:05 am.

A flashbulb memory is a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid ‘snapshot’ of the moment and circumstances in which a piece of surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) news was heard. That’s how Wikipedia defines it. But the sinking feeling in your stomach, the sudden rush of adrenalin, or amygdala response can never be described. After the initial shock, I felt happy. It meant in spite of the financial  loss, I can spend an extra few hours with my wife. So missing trains can make you happy!

Well, the last time I faced it, it did not felt so good. We planned a short trip to Darjelling. We planned to start on Wednesday night, reach Darjelling on Thursday afternoon, spent two days and return from Darjelling on Saturday afternoon, and reach home on Sunday. My junior colleague Sampurna made a detailed plan of the tour and my wife booked the hotels, and we were ready for the short tour. The weather forecast also seemed to improve. We had our early dinner and left for the station on OLA cab.

We had one hour time in hand. I went to railway enquiry to ask about the departure of the train. I was shocked to learn that the train was delayed by more than eight hours. Now we had to return home even if we plan to take the morning train the following day. So again a cab to take us back from Howrah station to Baguiati. My son started crying, and it was my shortsighted plan that has cancelled the tour. Even if we did take the morning train, we would reach Siliguri in the evening. That meant another night stay at Siliguri. So we would be left with two days and a night in Darjelling. That would be a very short tour, we thought and consequently we cancelled the tour.

We learn from mistakes and I promised that henceforth, I will not buy tickets for special trains  or trains which runs weekly, because you can never predict, how late they can be, especially while planning short tours. Ultimately we planned a tour to Mandarmani, on the same weekend which I will post in my next post.

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In search of the Himalayan Salamander

The earliest salamanders were known from their fossil which existed on the face of earth in the Middle Jurassic age at present Kyrgyzstan[1]. Himalayan Salamanders are one of the rarest and oldest amphibian that exists  from the Jurassic age in the hills of Darjeeling. They were considered extinct from this planet before they were found living in 1964 at Jorepokhari, Darjeeling. When we went to visit Namthing Pokhri in 2013, the Jorepokhri had lost its oldest inhabitant due to tourism promotion initiative of some foolish people[2].

It was the intense summer heat that prompted us to go for a short vacation in North Bengal. We planned to stay three days at Mongpong a little hamlet close to the Coronation Bridge, also known as the Sevoke Bridge.  This was to be followed by a one day trip to Kalimpong. 

The WBFDC cottage at Mongpong is a nice little nook to stay for a day or two.  The cottage we stayed at Mongpong: P1020400  Our stay was made even more comfortable by three nice people who took care of our worldly needs, providing us with steaming food and drinks whenever we requested.

References:

  1. Marjanovic, D.; Laurin, M. (2014). “An updated paleontological timetree of lissamphibians, with comments on the anatomy of Jurassic crown-group salamanders (Urodela)”. Historical Biology. doi:10.1080/08912963.2013.797972
  2. http://darjeelingtimes.com/archive/magazine-edition/eco-darjeeling/272-himalayan-salamander-facing-extinction-in-darjeeling-hills.html

Sonar Kella

The fort built with the yellow limestone is one of the wonderful delights in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer fort is more beautiful than these pictures portray. Yet I am only uploading the pictures of this wonderful place, as pictures convey more than the most eloquent words.

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The Royal Palace of Bhati Rajputs

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One of the Jain Temple in the golden fort
One of the Jain Temple in the golden fort
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The famous Mukul’s house in Sonar kella

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The View from the Top

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Front view of Sajjangarh Palace

Maharana Sajjan Singh was a visionary ruler of Mewar and is credited with improving the infrastructure of his kingdom to a great extent. He had build roads, water lines but most of all he wanted to build an observatory on the top of a hill west of the city of Udaipur to forecast the monsoon. And so begun the construction of the building that is popularly called Sajjangarh or Monsoon Palace. But the nine storied observatory was never finished, due to the untimely death of the 72nd Maharana of Mewar. However, it was converted into a hunting lodge. Today it offers breathtaking views of the Aravalli range, Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Udaipur City.

Maharana Sajjan Singh ji
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Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary
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A room with a view – two windows facing each other offering a fantastic view
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Udaipur City Palace and Lake Pichola