Saturday, July 23, 2011

A convenient idea of time

Ratnagiri happened again.

A day before the departure, I was told that a wall had collapsed and trains were cancelled/diverted/not running. My friend coming from Mangalore expressed concern about the same, which I waved off as ususal. I told her the wall collapse was a day back, it will not take Konkan Railways more than a day to repair the route, and trains will run perfectly normally tomorrow.

One of the challenges with doing sales in your life is sometimes you yourself forget you are bull shitting and start believing that your lies are somehow true.

She boarded her train at about 8 in the night and reached Ratnagiri at 7:30 PM the next day, in a Maharashtra State Transport Bus.KR had forcibly delayed the train, so that it reached Madgaon in the afternoon, so that passengers could be fed and Ratnagiri in the evening. The passengers got down at Adavali, some 40 KM from Ratnagiri and were asked to board the buses. Apparently there were only 4 buses present there

As for me, the Janshatabdi was stopped at Chiplun for a mighty 1.5 hour. A grumpy old man besides me was grumbling that the driver had to have lunch so they stopped the whole train for an hour and half. The fact being that  KR had managed the show perfectly well. They had placed an order for lunch , both veg and Non veg for all the passengers in the train, and were merely waiting for the lunch to be delivered. They figured that at Ratnagiri, the interchange between bus and train will not be all that manageable if passengers were hungry. Furthermore, the food was free.

So I landed up at Ratnagiri at around 2 PM, a few hours late, but well fed. So were the other passengers, who then got into a ST bus for upto Adavali, and onwards to Madgaon.

Surprisingly the train was a trifle empty and I later guessed that a lot of passengers might have chickened out on hearing the news, and sort of did not have sufficient faith in the railways/ govt. That they would be taken care of.

With the benefit of hindsight I realised this is a normal practice for KR, as and when a mudslide happens.

After getting down at Ratnagiri, I went to Theeba point, and Theeba palace. The palace was a letdown, but the point was worth everything. We went to Ganapatipule in the evening and the fort in the morning. Since her return train was redirected and there were no direct buses from Ratnagiri to Managalore,somebody suggested I take a ticket from Kolhapur. After the misadventure she had had to reach Ratnagiri, I did not want to take any chances and booked her ticket from there. Surprisingly, tickets were available in a train from Kolhapur to Mumbai, so  I cancelled my Ratnagiri - Mumbai ticket and booked a ticket from Kolhapur. Thanks to the tatkal idea.

We boarded a Karnataka Road transport bus the next day from ratnagiri, which kept us guessing whether we would reach Kolhapur by 7 PM or not. Moreover the bus from Kolhapur to Mangalore was a Vijayanand bus, with a reputation of being on time, so more pain.

Somehow, we reached there by 6:45, I got into a restaurant where I had gone earlier when I was in Kolhapur for Karale's wedding. I saw her off and headed to the only place which was open at that time, Mahalaxmi Temple. With no intention of getting into the temple, I sat outside for a hour or so, just observing people around me. I had the company of a lot of retired uncles who were gossiping taway to glory. People getting in and out of temple, carrying all sorts of paraphernalia, kids sitting on the temple wall etc.

Btw, the autos in Kolhapur run by meters and are the autowallahs are actually polite. I wanted to have the famed Kolhapuri Misal/Usal but by the time I got outside the temple premises all the famous Usal Pau shops were closed, so I went back to my default restaurant at the bus stand for my dinner.

Later I went to the station and to my surprise my 3 tier was upgraded to 2 tier.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ratnagiri Twice Over

So there was this random thought of going to Ganapatipule. Another whim/ pipe dream. The night before I wasn't even sure if the tickets would be confirmed and we will actually make this journey. Within a month, I was there twice. Games destiny plays.

We had WL 150 odd in the Jan shatabdi but got the tickets confirmed through jugaad.Actually the tickets were unavailable for booking either online or through a ticketing window. But again, jugaad helped.

A few days after we went their, Konkan railway has made some changes in the schedule of Jan Shatabdi and incresed its time by 3-4 hours. I am not sure why , but they should have some reason for that. I guess it is called Konkan railways's monsoon schedule.

We reached ratnagiri in the afternoon, Had lunch near the main market and headed off to Ganapatipule.A better , though expensive way to go to GP is in an auto, through the newly cut road.The distance is reduced by some 15-20 km and the road is pretty scenic.

The next day we visited the Ratnagiri fort. After spending the evening at the GP beach the day before. The fort is set up at a mountain on a shoreline, which makes the view quite amazing. You have waves of water hitting the black rocks, when you look down below and a never ending sea view towards the horizon. Something comparable was what we saw when we first went to Goa and were driving back from one of the beaches in South Goa. We just stopped randomly on the road, and casually looked back and their was this view of sea almost 3 quarters of a circle.

While coming back I asked the auto wallah what more can be of interest here. Theeba palace, he said. Some Thai King's bungalow converted into a museum. And then the penny dropped, The Glass Palace.

Each time Amitava Ghosh had described the palace and boats coming to Ratnagiri , I had mapped a particular imagination with it. Like the place where the queen would sit every day and wait. The first time she would see the mast head of an approaching boat etc.But I did not know how good was my imagination. And here was a chance to test it out, right out of the blue. Well, I could not go there as democracy prevailed, and my other two friends had no interest in either Thailand or an old museum. And I did not have the patience to communicate my thoughts on imagination.

So it remained a dream. Next time, I said to myself. The next time surprisingly came within two weeks.