Saturday, August 17, 2013

Raigarh station, 3 a.m

Waiting to board the Gondwana Express at Raigarh station.   

 The 110 km distance from Pathalgaon to Raigarh took us almost 4 hours by jeep. Over an hour was lost near the Baroud mines of the SECL, while we inched our way past heavy dumpers lined on both sides of the road for over 4 kilometres. Heavy rain had resulted in slush on both sides of the road, so no truck was willing to give an inch and get off the tarred surface. The driver dropped me off at the station just before midnight and returned to Pathalgaon. (This was far better than the five and a half hours it took me from Raigarh to Pathalgaon on the same road three days earlier).

The train was only at 3.30 am, so I sat in the upper class waiting room for ladies - an indifferent room with a few metal chairs stacked in one corner, a dirty toilet, and bright lights. I tried to keep myself awake by reading a book, more for safety's sake than anything else. I was the only occupant there, and kept the room door wide open. The coffee served by the almost-asleep stall boy on the platform was tepid and tasted horrible, so I did not go back for more.

At 3 a.m I wandered onto the platform where the train was due. And since it starts from Raigarh, the train came on to the platform well in time, though the compartment doors were not opened till just before departure. This photograph is of the platform from where I was sitting, the two elderly women in the foreground carrying on an animated conversation at that hour of night, while others around them slept soundly.