Our Journey from Ahmedabad to Shillong
We had a train at 3:30p.m from Ahmedabad to Howrah and then another train from Howrah to Guwahati, from where we would be taken to Shillong in a bus arranged by the ICYM (Indian Catholic Youth Movement).
But as we all have experienced at some or the other part of our lives not all goes according to our plans. And so when we reached the station we came to know that our train was delayed by 7hours! Well that was certainly a bit discomforting. Fr. Lawrence suggested moving to Gomtipur parish to spend time and we all agreed. The delay did cause incontinence but I also got to visit a parish I had never visited, pray in a church which I would not have been to in normal circumstances, meet a loving lady who at once was filled with motherly care for me and to have a delicious supper.
We reached back to the railway junction only to be welcomed by the news of further delay of the train. When we finally boarded the train after 12:00a.m we had to hunt for seats(did I mention we did not have reservations?). Well after a lot of hardwork and haggling with the TT from Fr. Lawrence and boys we finally managed to get a place to sleep. For another night we again had to hunt for a new place, but somehow amid the chaos I felt very calm and safe deep within.
Soon our concern was not the place to sit or lie down in the train, it was to catch the other train from Howrah where we did have reservations. Our train which was initially 7hours late was now running 11hours late, further more delay and we would miss the other train.
We entered West Bengal with the delayed trained which threatened to be delayed further and it seemed like a race against time. As our train took a halt at Sankrail(a local station) which is about 20mins from Howrah in an express train, our fellow passengers and locals asked us to get down and board a local train to Howrah which would get us to Howrah earlier than our express. It was a chance we took and went for it.
We boarded the local at 3:20pm and our other train to Guwahati was at 3:30! We were all a bit scared, as it was a huge gamble, but for me apart from being scared I was enjoying the experience of traveling in a local West Bengal train, again an experience which I would never get in normal circumstances.
In 30mins we were approaching Howrah Junction. As we were entering the station we were all filled with the same emotion, the one that you get when you are entering a station and witnessing your train leaving the station. It is bitter. It is hard. But well there was a little compensation, atleast we reached an hour before our ‘express’! And we did manage to get another train to Guwahati.
Once we reached Guwahati on 10th Oct, we were welcomed by NYC volunteers, and before we knew we were in a bus going uphill to Shillong!