Thursday, September 16, 2010

Those four years...

I joined PSG college of Technology instead of Anna University for two main reasons: I could avoid hostel (with its not-so-good-food) and believing many who said faculties would be better in PSG (which I can say is true to an extent from what I heard from my friends who went to Anna Univ). Now, the first reason held true, but with an added hardship. The distance between college and home was a small matter of around 55kms.
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Well of course, my elder brother was himself studying in PSG and day-scholar too. So, it wasn't a tough decision to up-down everyday. There were two options for commuting: train and bus. Like my brother, I settled for a mix of it. From Tirupur to Coimbatore, it was by train. But to railway station being 3-4kms from home, we had to first use town bus :P. And not always, on reaching Coimbatore could we get down at Peelamedu, the local station from where we could walk to college in 15mins.

Classes for first year in college started at 9:30am and 8:30am from 2nd year onwards. My bro being in 3rd year when I was in 1st year, had to catch the first available train - 1013 (Kurla Express) whose arrival time at Tirupur station was 5:40am. First few days I accompanied him in that train. That meant waking up at around 4:30am, getting ready by 5:10am. It being an express train, it had no stoppage at Peelamedu, but due to single line connection, there used to be frequent crossings at local station. And many times it would be at Peelamedu. Sometimes, if the train stopped after Peelamedu, we would catch another passenger train going towards Peelamedu! But on occasions, we had no option but get down at Coimbatore junction and catch a bus to College. There was another train around 8am (Erode to Coimbatore passenger train). So, for most part of 1st year, I used the passenger one. And it had stopping at Peelamedu, but the risk was if it reached beyond 9:15am, I would be late for the first hour. But thankfully, it was rare and I kept 100% attendance for the 1st year :)

Return from college was again via the same passenger train. For 2nd year, I had no option but to catch the 5:40am Kurla in the morning. Ofcourse, I couldn't get ready always to reach in time and those rare cases I resorted to using bus to Coimbatore. But, it being Indian railway, mostly train would arrive after 6am. So, even if I was late, I would first confirm the departure of train instead of directly using bus. It so happened a handful of occasions that I would reach the station in time, but train would be late and when I reached the station late, the train would have left on time :D. But, thankfully, for the whole of my college, I never missed the return train from Peelamedu to Tirupur. If I had missed, it would have meant a painful 15min walk back to catch a bus service. During 3rd year, railways dept. conspired against us! They changed the timing of Kurla to 5am! That was too much and morning travel was mostly by bus.

The train travel meant I had ample free time. I would mostly read text/story books and even write lab observation/record in train. And very rarely (like after some festival holidays) did I not find a sitting place in train. I especially used to like climbing to the top berth and situation often warranted it. And believe me, this set-up of up-down everyday was what enabled me to work hard.

Now, why am I relating all this? Well, think about traveling for 4 years in train in India. Don't you think I would have met with an accident? Well thankfully, I never did. But there were close misses.

Incident #1:
Cheran express plying from Chennai to Coimbatore. It's time was around 1 hour before the Kurla express. One coach (general compartment, at the back-end of train, which is where I used to sit in Kurla) of it burned when someone committed suicide. It could easily have happened in Kurla too. That day, I was traveling in Kurla as usual when it had to stop midway at a local station. I then reached college by bus, but to think of it...

Incident #2:

Happened this time in Kurla on Tirupur station itself. Apparently, a woman slipped after the train had started moving and came under the wheels. I didn't see as I was at the back and this happened in front. As soon as I got the word, I fled from the station, not being able to digest it.

Incident #3:

This one while going in passenger train in the morning. The train had halted two stations before Peelamedu as usual. But then there came an alert that someone had cut the train-track at some point ahead! We had to walk some 2km to catch bus to college.

Incident #4:

Again passenger train, this time while returning in the evening. The train was nearing a local station, when we heard a loud metal clang and immediately the driver brought the train to a halt. Some metal-rod like part near the wheel had come-off. I didn't wait to gather the details. As we were near the station, I could walk some 1-2km to catch bus.

I am not able to think of any other unwanted incident. Sure there were many other interesting incidents in those four years of travel, but perhaps another day I will pen them down :)

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