South India. The only Indian region I hadn’t ventured into. Yet when the Law School was forced into an early winter break (thanks to a pox scare), we were pushed into preponing our visit to Chennai, a place we had identified as our first destination for researching on WTO and Agricultural Subsidies, an area around which our moot court problem revolves.
Very soon, I found myself on a Vishakapatnam (Vizag) bound train. We (myself and S. Roy, my teammate) reached the port city on the morning of 4th November and discovered much to our dismay that our connecting train to Chennai had been cancelled owing to the heavy rains there. Rest of our time in this beautiful city was spent in visiting the various travel operators in hope of finding a bus to Chennai. Everything was packed.
The Vizag Station
It was only when I contacted one of my uncle’s friend who stays in Vizag that we finally got our train tickets done till a place called Vijayawada, which also happens to be one the largest railway junctions in the country. Another pointer to the value of having ‘Contacts’ in India.
On the train to Vijayawada...unaware of what lied ahead!
We left Vizag around 4: 30 PM. Owing to a train accident that had taken place a few days back, the train was to travel on a diverted route and was to take longer time than usual. Now Vijaywada was supposed to arrive at half past midnight. Roy was fast asleep around 11:30 PM hoping I would wake him up once the station comes. The morning exercise of visiting one travel operator after another had really drained a lot out of us. As I closed my eyes around quarter to twelve, hoping I wouldn’t doze off, the inevitable actually happened.
When I looked at my watch at around ten past one and found the train moving at a very high speed, a hundred things crossed my mind. Had I missed the station? No! How could that happen to me? We didn’t even have reservation from Vijayawada onwards.
Still sleepy, I shake Roy up and inform him about the farce. He is too sleepy to fathom the gravity of the situation. Soon, both of us drag our entire luggage to the compartment door and frantically wait for the next station. The train seems to pick up more and more speed even as we expect it to stop. It’s around 2:00 AM and the train shows no signs of stopping anywhere. For a moment we mull over the possibility of continuing with the journey, reach Hyderabad and take things from there on. But without tickets, that could be a huge risk. I go looking for the Ticket Checker in the adjacent compartments as the train rips through the silence of the night. I find him fast asleep and muster the courage to wake him and tell about what happened. He introduces me to another gentleman and informs that even he is on the same boat. He asks me to get down at Khammam, the next station.
Finally, the train slows down and halts at Khammam around 2:30 A.M.When we get out of the train, the sight of at least five more persons from our train who were supposed to get down at Vijaywada but now stand stranded in the middle of this vacant station releases me of all the edginess. We rush to the ticket couter and buy two General Compartment tickets to Vijayawada.Soon, we find ourselves sitting near the door of the General Compartment on a Vijaywada bound train. Last time, the sleep betrayed us. This time, we betray it. Or at least try doing that.
Very soon, we find ourselves on yet another train. It’s the Vijaywada-Chennai Godavari Express. The train starts at 6:00 AM and is scheduled to reach Chennai around 1 O’clock. The beautiful sights of morning keeps me awake till the after effects of the previous night’s sleepless journey forces me into a slumber.
The Sunrise from the Godavari Express.
A shot from my professional camera...ahm...ahm!
Ravages of Rain!
Around 1:30 PM, as we enter Chennai, the appalling sights of water logged roads and fields prepare us for what lies ahead. As we get down from the train, the noisome smells of the inundated city keeps me scatterbrained till I come out of the station.
Much to our disappointment, we find that Prof. Shanthakumar from the Law School, who belongs to Chennai and was supposed to help us in our research, has not yet reached Chennai as even his train got cancelled. And certainly, we could not expect him to be as adventurous as we were.
Hari (Roy's friend who stays in Chennai) takes us to the Ambedkar Law College (which happens to be his own College) to meet Prof. Manohar, a person Prof. Shanthakumar had referred us to. It is here we meet Adarsh, another member of our team who had reached Chennai few hours before us. Prof. Manohar tries his best to arrange for our accommodation at the various youth hostels but to no avail.
We stay in Chennai for three days. We roam around in the rain. We get wet almost every time we step out. We visit few institutes. We find no resources whatsoever. Blame it to the lack of planning. Blame it to the weather.
Adarsh and Roy busy researching?
Had Hari not taken care of our accommodation, we could have been forced into squandering a hell lot of money for nothing.
The best part of our stay in Chennai!
The Marina Beach!
Would you believe its 4 in the afternoon?
We leave Chennai on the night of 7th November, empty handed. The Bangalore bound bus proves to be the final test of my patience as ‘BUGS’ feast on my blood right through the journey. It was like Chennai’s last kick on my already beaten up rump.
Hari's car was 'smooched' by a lorry as he carried us around! Arguing with the driver as Adarsh and Roy(foreground) wait helplessly.
We reach Bangalore early next morning hoping that the National Law School wouldn’t be as disappointing. But after the Chennai experience, we must expect the unexpected.
To know about what happened in Bangalore, do keep an eye here. My postponed exams [thanks again to the ‘Chicken Pox Break’(CPB)] start from December 1st and it’s high time that I catch up with my studies. Adios.