Sunday, 13 November 2016

Taking the local Train in Goa

Brian Mendonça

Despite the many services, the Indian Railways offers in Goa, rail travel within Goa is hardly taken seriously. Just suggesting a jaunt from say Vasco to Margao is met with exclamations of horror or bewilderment or both. You may as well be in the boondocks, as it were.

Take Bombay for instance, where trains are the lifeline of the city. You’ve simply got to know your onions, when it comes to hopping on to the Panvel Fast (Projected) or the Churchgate Slow. When you are changing over from ‘Western to Central’ you need to have your wits about you. Watching others do it with practised ease certainly makes you feel like a moron in the morning.

Now take Goa for instance. My car was stuck at the servicing centre overnight. The person I usually thumb a lift with was attending a course in Gwalior. Being used to the breezes of the car, I detested being squashed like a reixade mackerel on a tottering bus to Nuvem.

So I set forth on my trusty (if ancient) scooter from home in Mangor hill to the Vasco railway station to take the 07.35 a.m. Vasco-Kulem local. Having carefully parked my scooter near Vishwa Surya’s shop (He’s the local newspaper vendor), I walked briskly to the station. Imagine my shock when I saw a train leaving from platform number 1. I reassured myself it could not be the passenger train I wanted to board since it was not  time for departure yet. Sure enough it was the 18048 Amravati Express a.k.a. Vasco-Howrah with leaves at 07.10 a.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Funny when a train is leaving, your heart is in your mouth because you think it’s yours.

I stepped up to the ticket counter and bought a ticket to Margao for the princely sum of Rs. 10. It was past 7.30 a.m. and platform number 1 was yawning gracefully – the 18048 just having departed for the East. I asked the ticket officer where the Vasco Kulem would leave from and he indicated towards platform 1. In a little while the coaches rolled in and I boarded the train.

Imagine an almost empty train! -- to travel in comfort to my destination. My intention was to travel up to Majorda.  The train finally pulled out.  But just as it did I saw another train pulling in. It was the Goa Express coming all the way from Hazrat Nizamuddin station, New Delhi. I excitedly told my family to watch the train wind its way past our kitchen balcony in the valley below.

We reached Majorda station in about 20 minutes. As I stepped out, it took less than 10 minutes before a minibus bound for Margao came waltzing by. I was delighted to see my students in it all buried in their books preparing for the exams which began at 10. One of them sweetly rose and offered me her seat. From Nuvem church I biked it to college. It was 8.27 a.m.
Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender , St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 6 November 2016. Pix taken by the author after alighting at Majorda station, Goa.

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