Life is a journey that must be travelled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations; says Oliver Goldsmith.
With a similar emotion, that day in the month of April the journey began for me and friends. We boarded the Okha- Guwahati Express from Ahmedabad at around 9 pm only to find over 200 co-passengers in the second class bogie meant to accommodate 72 people. It took us a while to get accustomed with the surrounding and the hundreds of people heading for respective hometowns. That day the meaning of ‘shock’ and ‘disbelief’ was redefined. And we knew that our ‘reserved berth’ was just a mirage and that the exodus had begun.
Generally all it takes is 60 minutes to adjust to the surrounding in a crowded train, at times even lesser. So in a while, we were busy probing and exploring with our co-passengers to find the reason for this rabble. And the answer was, “its Holi and we need to reach home”.
Most of our co-passengers were natives from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam migrated to Gujarat in search of work. Having found a job in the vibrant state of Gujarat, they only visit their families once in a year. Hence, the rush was well justified.
They were young, middle-aged, old and few who hopped in straight from the hospital, leaving the treatment half-way, keen to be home before the festivity begins in their respective villages. As they were taking turns to sleep and sit along the window seats, the scene illustrated a perfect travelling scene of giving each other a leg up to accommodate self as well as others. The bonhomie was contagious and soon we forgot our discomfort and joined the exodus.
It’s recommended for photographers and story writers to board this train (before Holi, ofcourse) from Okha (Gujarat), if you want to hear amazing stories of finding employment, lack of jobs in one’s native and so on from the people of seven states of India all in one go . The Okha -Guwahati Express travels a long journey of more than 3200 km in a span of four days. Don’t miss my favourite, the second-class compartment in a summer night.