Sunday, March 22, 2009
Visiting Vijayawada[Blazewada] by Janshatabdi
Jayakar and Ramachandra greets the Chennai gang at Vijayawada Railway Station. L-R:-Jayakar Sankara, Ramachandra, Poochi Venkat, Junior KK(myself), Sriram Karthik, Sr.KK. Pic taken by Vimalakar.
15th March 2009.
The run-up for the trip to Vijayawada was a tough task. It started a month back with polls conducted for fixing the dates/destinations. The purpose of visit was different. It was to simply travel UP and DOWN in the same train to enjoy the spirit of rail fanning in Indian Railways. Vijayawada also known as Bezawada is the third largest city in Andhra Pradesh located on the banks of the Krishna River and bounded by the Indrakiladri Hills on the West and the Budameru River on the North. Vijayawada means "The Place of Victory". Vijayawada is regarded as the the “Business Capital of Andhra Pradesh”. Situated along the Madras-Howrah and Madras-Delhi Railway route, this is the largest railway junction of the South Central Railway region. The city is in Krishna District, about 275km from the state capital Hyderabad.
Poochi and Sr.KK posing. Onboard 2077. They sat in the same seats for the return journey too.
I came from work at midnight 12. I browsed the system for a few hours. I generally sleep at 0400hrs. It was difficult to change the pattern which I had followed for many months. I went to bed at 0230hrs and got up at 0430hrs. I was in a dilemma whether to go by bus or MRTS. I walked into KB Nagar station and found out that on Sundays, trains don’t run in the early morning hours. I went to Madhya Kailas and thought of boarding a bus to Saidapet and then catching an EMU to Park or else catch a 19G directly to Central. As I boarded 5E, I saw a 19G coming in the distance. I thought of switching bus at Saidapet, but 19G overtook my bus near Anna University. Just miss! I got down at Saidapet and boarded an EMU to Park. I was at MAS at 0610hrs. I met Poochi at 0615hrs. He was wearing a black t-shirt with the IRFCA logo. My friends Vimal, Sr.KK and Sriram arrived quite early too. WAM-4#20618 from Itarsi was our power. I was slightly disappointed because I expected a WAP-4. This WAM-4 had rear view mirrors. Though I am not a big fan of WAP’s, I still love them in action. Nagaraj and family arrived at 0655hrs. I was slightly tensed and worried as they were quite late. We should appreciate Nagaraj for his efforts. Perhaps, this was the first time; I saw a family joining MAS gang for RF.
Sriram Karthik poses for a snap. Note the handsome youth in the blue shirt.
We started at 0705hrs. At Korrukkupet, TN Express crossed us at high speed with honks! I was amazed at the power. Sr.KK proudly said, “Our drivers!” We crossed Anuppambattu at around 80kph! I settled with my MP3 player in my mobile, listening to my own favorite music’s! No prize for the guesses it was the Back Street Boys! I had downloaded a couple of new songs from Youtube and put them in mobile. I settled in my aisle seat listening to music floating in my own world (something I do often). We had one extra seat and it wasn’t booked I believe. We managed to keep control of it throughout the trip and kept our luggages on it. If anyone asked I just said that the person has gone to the restroom. That imaginary person was in the restroom for 7 hours!
Nishant kutti-youngest railfan in IRFCA.
We were running late initially. We were trailing behind EMU’s. Gummidipondi has improved a lot in recent years and has become an industrial town. I guess even the MTC operates regular bus services to Gummidipondi. Updating my friends on my travels through SMS has become one of favorite hobbies and is very much appreciated and liked by even non-travel fans in my phone list. After my train crossed Arambakkam, my friend Aravind helped me in passing messages as in roaming it would cost a lot for me. Arambakkam is the northern most railway station in Tamilnadu. I was eagerly waiting for my train to cross the TN-AP border. I have a mysterious love and affection towards Andhra Pradesh, though I live in Tamilnadu. My Jan Shatabdi Express was doing good speed. The climate was excellent! It was cloudy and had a bit of moisture here and there. Poochi Venkat and Sr.KK said that we were lucky to have a good weather.
Senior Krishna Kumar doorplates the 2077 JS.
We arrived at Sullurpeta at 0830hrs. This brought back memories of 2007 in which I had idlis and dosais at a hotel near the tracks before heading towards Sri Hari Kota for an Industrial Visit. Sullurpeta is also known as ‘Rocket Town’. I was standing at the door for a few kilometers. Track sounds were excellent. Dhadhak! Dhadhak! Trees, rice fields, passed in a jiffy! I went back in time. Some sweet memories, some tragedies. My heart was filled with powerful emotions. Don’t ask me why! I won’t tell. My silence, sadness, reason for joy is best understood by these iron horses and the person who is going to come in a horse. We reached Gudur 10 minutes early! As my train entered SCR, there were jerks and shakes in coaches slightly. It was time to have something spicy. Sr.KK, Sriram, Vimal and I had some samosas. It had a lot of salt in Sr.KK’s opinion. It wasn’t that tasty in my view. I went to the door and I could see a dog standing there. It was gasping for breath and looked at me with eagerness. Sometimes I am alone. Lots of feelings to share. No one around to care. I don’t mind sharing my samosa with the dog. My friendship with animals began many years ago during the early days of schoolhood.
Railfan in action!
At this point, I would like to tell you something. My house is a bit old and the backyard is a natural haven for animals like Monkeys, cats, squirrels and dogs. Dogs and cats often lived as families in the terrace during the 1980’s and 1990’s. During childhood I played all alone. I use to play with tennis balls by hitting them on the walls in an angle and when it rebounds I use to catch it before it crosses an imaginary boundary rope. I use to tie up tennis ball in a rope and hit them with bat. It was during those days, a female dog gave birth to 6 puppies beneath the car in the car shed. The pups were of different colors. Black spots, black and white, pure white. One fine day, when everyone was asleep in my house I went to the car shed. The mother dog had gone to have food. The puppies were asleep. I quickly took one of them and silently crept upstairs. I kept it under the tank. I had a thought of bringing it up on my own as my own friend. I quickly went down to grab some food for my nameless friend. To my horror, I saw that the mother dog has returned and was sitting beneath the car. But she hasn’t realized what had happened. I went and grabbed some Milki-Biki’s and gave it to the pup. The pup gratefully accepted it and wagged its tail in gratitude. Then I felt sad. It’s my fate that I am destined to be born alone. Why should people around me suffer the same?
The next day when the mother dog had gone out, I took the puppy in my hands and came down the stairs to put it back with its brothers and sisters. To my horror, I saw my father and mother standing in the entrance. They had counted the puppies and they had found one missing. They feared that one of them would have fallen in the drainage or in the marsh. Seeing the pup in my hand, my parents were upset. I received a lot of scoldings that day evening. Days went by! The pups grew up and started moving out of my house. One dog alone stayed back! It was the dog to which I gave biscuits. True to the meaning of loyalty, the dog stayed back and lived in the car shed for good. During my evening walks, morning walks, shop visits, the dog accompanied me. The good old watchman of the nearby flat arranged for its vaccination. The dog was named ‘Timmy’ but that name was rarely used and the dog was nameless throughout its life. Timmy’s son was Tommy. Tommy’s son is Damien-my present dog. I learnt the meaning of loyalty and gratitude from dogs. Later on, I adopted a few kittens and I developed a love for all animals gradually an affection developed towards all living beings.
Tallest signal post in MAS-BZA section? The train was going slow and I managed to pull out my mobile to take this snap.
WAM-4#20618 honked! I came out from trance, back to my own world. My train was entering Nellore at 0949hrs. WAP-4#22511 was hauling 2711 BZA-MAS Pinakini Express and was entering Nellore. We had an unscheduled halt at Bitragunta. We reached Kavali at 10.33AM. Father of Andhra Pradesh Potti Sri Ramalu was from Kavali! Kavali in Telugu means “Patrol”. Let me give you some facts as I type the report! My train maintained time and good speed throughout the run. Tanguturu station was passed at high speed with dusts flying all around. Typical characteristic of aggressive driving! Prakasam Pantalu was from Tanguturu and was the first CM of the Madras Presidency; however when India got independence the Presidency was dissolved later. Great people come from villages. How true it is! He was regarded as the Andhra Kesari (Kesari meaning lion).
Tanguturu Prakasam Pantalu, Portrait in the Parliament House.
We reached Ongole at 11.22hrs! As my train entered into Ongole, I had a glance at the town. I could see women in sarees, men in dhotis and kids playing with tyres. Dogs, Buffaloes, cows were also seen. And by the way, Ongole is famous for Ongole breed of Oxen. The Ongole oxen have a distinct large hump over the top of the shoulder and neck. They have long legs which help them to walk in water and when grazing. These oxen can adapt to all except very cold climates. They are very resistant to high temperatures and have natural resistance to various parasites and diseases. Brazil is the largest breeder of these oxen. These have shortest ears of most Bos indicus types.
The history of Ongole goes back to the era of the Mauryas, and Satavahanas who ruled most of present day Andhra Pradesh. A few inscriptions dating to the Satavahana period were found in a village called Chinna Ganjam, near Ongole. Ongole is one of the major centres for tobacco trading in Andhra Pradesh. It is a bustling beehive of commercial activity with dairy products, cigars, cereals, pulses, groundnut and pepper being exported to all corners of the country.
We arrived at Chirala at 12.02hrs. Chirala was earlier known as Kshirapuri. Even before the Industrial revolution took place in the west, the rural artisan weaver of this Chirala had done marvelous work of producing 7 yards of sari in a match box. This is only an example numerous talents hidden in the villages of India. It speaks of the highest excellence in the art of weaving, unmatched skill and talent of handloom weavers the yesteryears of India. WAP-4#22670 was seen hauling Coromandel Express just as we entered Chirala.
Here and there I could felt some jerks and shakes similar to meter gauge trains. Possibly, due to loose soil in the coromandel coast of India. We passed Bhavpuri, presently known as Bapatla at a normal speed. Suryalanka beach a picnic spot is just 5km away from the Bapatla station. I doorplated for sometime. Poochi called out that the cutlets were being served and I immediately rushed to my seat to have cutlets. Cutlets were served with tomato sauce. We reached Tenali-“The Paris of Andhra” at 12.49. Both UP and DOWN Janma Boomi Expresses were seen at Tenali Jn. WAP-4 and WDP-4 was seen. Later Sr.KK explained to me that WAP-4 and WDP-4 change trains at Tenali. Both UP and DOWN Janma Boomi Expresses meet at Tenali to change their respective locos.
Potti Sriramalu was born in Kavali. He is regarded as the Father of Andhra Pradesh.
Poochi predicted that we would reach before time. WAM-4 did a good job. We passed through small stations like Duggirala, Chiluvur, and Krishna Canal in a jiffy! During my researches later, I found out that Duggirala was famous for Turmeric and Chiluvur was the first Internet Village in Andhra Pradesh, in which the AP Government took various measures involving High-Technology to improve the village with high technology and its literacy rate. We arrived at BZA at 0117hrs, 17 minutes before time. I could see Adilabad-Tirupati Krishna Express waiting at BZA with WAP-4#22766.
We were greeted at BZA by Jayakar Sankara and Ramachandra. We ordered for North Indian and South Indian meals with Nishant kutti opting for Paratha. Basmati Rice with Dal, Two chapattis and kurma was served. I thought that I should have had some naan and paneer butter masala. But I erased the thought since Naan and stuffs are available in a hotel near to my house itself. Jayakar gave a Bar one chocolate to everyone. I kept this as a souvenir for a day but ate it the next day!
Scenic route! MAS-BZA.
We slowly walked our way back to the last platform. WAM-4#20618 was ready to haul us back. We had the same coaches and the same seat number! Only two seats differed. Sr.KK, Poochi and few of us sat in the same seats but faced towards the engine this time. The pantry staffs were surprised and puzzled to see the entire group in the same seats. This incident happened even during my last BZA trip with Ashwanth and Co. After giving a long thought, I decided to have Matka Kulfi. I take caution while taking anything chill as I don’t want my throat to get affected at any cost. We were slightly late till Ongole I guess. However, we reached MAS on time thanks to some real monstrous driving!
2077 passing through Chinnaganjam. Note the climate in the background.
Unlike the run on 2077, I door plated in the return journey for a long time. I didn’t want to miss the scenery. There are a few hurtful moments in life. There are some good moments in life. I heal my wounds during the train journey! As I stand near the door or as I gaze through the window I recollect the disturbing events. Dhadhak! Dhadhak! Praaang! Heavenly music! It’s like water gushing over arid land. I sat at the door and enjoyed the run and the speed. Each time when we approached a station or a halt, I use to get back to the seat to protect it. A couple of years back, I had a funny habit! I use to put handkerchiefs on seats to catch reserve them! I might have got this habit while catching 21 L during my college days.
For some time Vimal and myself doorplated. WAG-7 came at 100kph hauling a train near Tettu towards BZA. The train wasn’t that long and I believe that it was a passenger. It was followed by WAP-4#22306 which hauled an 8 coach train. This was the moment of the trip. The weather had turned slightly cold (not that cold but still cold) and cloudy. There was a huge gap between the two tracks and tall grasses were seen all over the area. I saw 22306 with the rake amidst the tall grass. For sometime, it looked as if the train was going on top of the grasses. The entire atmosphere was gloomy and cold breeze hit my face hard. After sometime, WAP-4 hauled an express train towards BZA. As we crossed Kavali, Pinakini entered into the station with WAP-4#22589 at its helm. Majestic entry! Our LP’s did a good job in making up for the lost time. We were late by at least 15 or 20 minutes as per Sr.KK but we reached MAS 2 minutes early.
2077 passing through Stuvartpuram at a moderate speed.
Then we were in for a problem. As a result of a clerical mistake on my part there was an error in the ticket. Instead of selecting female in the drop down box I had selected as male. The TTE caught hold of it and was talking of rules. I was standing at the door when all this was happening. I was called and I examined the ticket myself. I couldn’t believe that I had committed a silly mistake. But I felt that it could be excused. But I felt the TTE was talking too much. I knew that I was in the wrong side of the law, but I thought that this guy could have ignored it. There are many tickets less guys in trains, rogues and people creating nuisance and harassment. Those guys are running loose but they would catch only me? I didn’t want to pass on any comments on him as he is also a fellow human being like me. And also the mistake was on my part. Vimal showed up the ticket of 2077 and indicated that the previous ticket was fine and only this one had an error. The TTE was talking of penalty, squad and went away murmuring. I told to Sr.KK that I would pay the penalty and take charge of everything if the squad comes.
2077 passes a small station.
After a while, I realized that I had just talked rubbish! Thank God, Sr.KK, Poochi nor Vimal took it seriously. Though I said those words just to dissolve the problem, it might look as if I am cutting people short from speaking. I later apologized to Poochi and Sr.KK. I was happy that they had understood my words in the right sense! I am sure if it was someone they would have taken this in a different sense! The word “I” is a dangerous word! For the past few months, I am trying to cultivate the habit of not reacting to circumstances. I need to work on this again! In one sense, I was happy that a Government official is so sincere in his duties. Overall, it was a different experience.
2077 blasting through Uppugunduru.
Though this incident was a petty one, there are a few lessons to be learnt. I booked the 2078 ticket on a separate day as it was already 2245hrs by the time I had finished with 2077. After trying at least 8 times I managed to book tickets for the return journey. It showed that the “Page cannot be displayed” and I got irritated slightly. That would have led to this error.
Fairy Queen in BZA.
I could observe that southern Andhra Pradesh wasn’t that much modern or technically advanced. I noticed that Agriculture is the main occupation in these regions. I believed that handloom, weaving was also equally important in these areas. That’s the reason why the entire area looks green and fertile. Most of all, it looks beautiful. Sometimes, I use to think that I should buy a plot near Kavaraipettai or Nellore and watch trains. Or even settle in some villages after a couple of decades. I don’t know whether those things would be possible or not, but no harm in sharing thoughts! Though I have done this route twice I thought of doing this route again in a Sleeper Class Day train possibly in Andaman or Navjeevan or Coromandel. Due to Jan Shatabdi’s abnormal windows and seat arrangements I couldn’t enjoy much. I admit that!
Another view of the steam loco.
We reached Gudur at 1845hrs. I called up Ramkarthik and had a small chat. After Gudur, I had a small nap for 40 minutes. Once I entered back in TN, as usual I sent a message to everyone as if I had achieved something great in life! I take pride in small things! I enjoy doing things! We were running quite early. As Sr.KK predicted after Ennore we had a tough time. We were stopping at many signals. The fun came at Korukkupet LC. The LC was closed and we saw a Santro car standing inside. How could that be forgiven?
Entrance to BZA Jn.
After reaching MAS, Sr.KK went to Saravana Bhavan for dinner. Vimal went towards Park to catch an EMU towards PZA. Sriram left in a bus to Royappetta wheareas Poochi and I boarded 21 till Luz and then changed to 29 C. I got down at Adyar signal and walked all the way to my house! I felt the power of the iron horses for another time! The world will soon feel the power of The Person who is going to come in horse.