Saturday, December 06, 2008
A train trip to Lucknow (on Abhishek's wedding)
It was Abhishek Dixit's wedding on 29th November, 2008 that led a trip to Lucknow. The trip didn't add much to my tourist knowledge of the place but I learned quite some things about train travel. The prices for flights had gone up so horribly high that I decided to travel by train. Fortunately the sanity in flight prices is back. The Tax has decreased by 1,400 Rupees in past week making the ticket cost more reasonable once again.
So the train journey started with Gorakhpur express from Hyderbad. This time the good thing was that I made it to the train in sufficient time in advance, something I have almost not done since long. The train seemed to have a almost perfect timing all the way till Bhopal and "just" 1 hr delay at Jhansi, but then I got reminded of the old days of delayed train again. The train kept stopping at every random station for uncalled amount of time and eventually reached the destination Lucknow at 2:00 PM instead of 9:30 AM.
I must say I was surprised to see the city contradictory to my preconcieved notion about the city being part of a state which has been politically exploited based on caste politics. I had heard that parties whenever they came to power used to bring down old statues and errect new ones wasting loads of public money. Not having seen statues at every junction I felt relieved to know that my information wasn't correct. But wait, the junctions all had lavish water fountains and should have been a big waste of construction and maintenence money, water and electricity anyways.
Then I was pointed to one statue on the left of the road, it was Mr. Ambedkar's. I was told that he is the only person whose statues get put at every place and that I found true within next 2-3 Kms. Other than that the City indeed looks pretty developed seeing the flyovers and broad roads.
The original plan was Sandeep and team would be coming from Delhi and we would go sight seeing around but they couldn't make it because of not getting their seats in the train out of waiting list and also not being allowed to take a taxy out of city boundaries due to some rule of Election commision to "Seal" the boundary of state during election, another seemingly stupid rule. Arvind and Sreejith did make it to the wedding being in IIML also Piyush Bhargav came.
The marriage had all the traditional north Indian wedding stuff like Baraat walking with a band playing some famous songs, some of us dancing and also some fireworks on the way. Something that was different from the wedding in MP was that the Dullah came in a car all the way to the venue instead of coming on a horse. The dinner was pretty good and I found it pretty much similar to the one we have at weddings in MP. After the dinner was over there were some private/family events including the Pheras that went on over the night again another similarity.
I had an early morning train next day. The train started on a bad note with a delay of 2 hrs, keeping me worried if I will catch my connecting train from Allahabad. I came to know later that my choice of train the Nauchandi express was a bad one. I should have rather taken an intercity train which people say is much better in maintaining timings.
My train kept adding more and more delay so instead of reaching Allahabad at scheduled time of 9:55 AM I reached at 2:10 PM. At once the train was at a station 5 KMs or so away from Allahabad for approximately 30 minutes. Someone knowledgable proposed us leaving the train and taking an auto rickshaw to avoid wasting another 30 minutes as this train waits for another train to cross. I was interested because I could have caught my connecting train, some others had a appointment at the (Army?) office at 1 PM.
Turns out that despite the delay of 2 hrs my connecting train left the station before I could reach it. I came to know some interesting stuff about trains:
1) If my ticket was a normal ticket (not an e-ticket), the station superintendent could have given me a seat in another train based on availability without me going through pains of cancelling this ticket and reissuing another.
2) Even with my e-ticket, I could still claim my refund for this ticket because I missed the train because of the delay and I had PNR numbers of connecting ticket.
3) You can buy a general ticket when reservation is not available and contact the TT to get you a seat in Sleeper category. The TT issues a "panelty" reciept for 320 Rs for the distance from Allahabad to Jabalpur and I could use that along with my general ticket worth 87 Rs to travel. Effectively paying 400 Rs instead of may be 300 Rs ticket.
The journey from Jabalpur to Hyderabad was much more peaceful with no major delays or hiccups. As I understand it train delays are a thing of past for many places in India but not for UP still, be careful about giving ample extra timings between your trains and reserve extra time for the delays in your plans.