I opened the newspaper in the morning and the front page top story was ‘Flying Ranee Derails near Surat’. Regular train traffic was disrupted because of derailment and many trains running on the Western Line were delayed by a couple of hours. Even though the journey time between Baroda and Surat is only two and an hour hours, I was not looking forward to any kind of delays especially as I had to head out straight for a shoot.
To my surprise, my train arrived five minutes before time. Most of my journeys on this trip are by train and for some reason, I am completely trusting their time-table and I have been shocked by their punctuality. After years, I was booked into First Class Coach. It may sound fancy but it actually isn’t. it is non air-conditioned, dirty and not preferred by even the pass holders. They, too, prefer the air-conditioned chair car. Anyways, the weather was nice and I wanted to enjoy the landscape. Moreover, the coach was, more or less, empty. No crying babies, no loud aunties talking on the phone, etc.
The Baroda-Bombay stretch is actually quite beautiful. There are many bridges over troubled waters ( I mean rivers!), interesting towns and lots of greenery. One of my old-time favorites is the long bridge over the Narmada. Narmada is one of the longest rivers that flows eastwards into the Arabian Sea and during monsoons, it can be rough. I have never seen a train zip on this bridge, maybe because of its height over the river and also its length. It worth the non air conditioning!
I guess the derailment of Flying Ranee did create problems. For no reason, my train was stopped in the middle of nowhere for about thirty minutes. When it started moving, I slowly crossed trains, which I had seen at the Baroda station i.e. the Swaraj Express and the Gujarat Express. They were not given a clearance to proceed towards Bombay due to the derailment. For some reason, my unimportant train was allowed to chug along, getting dirty looks from the passengers on the other trains. I reached Surat, half an hour late but ready to shoot!