Train hopping

The blue rake of the Nilgiri Mountain train await at Mettupalayam station

Two steam locos at the shed at Mettupalayam

Hitched to the train, the loco is all ready for the hard climb till Coonoor

One of the banes of middle age is a relaxed outlook and a monumental inertia in doing something physically demanding purely for fun. I managed to overcome this inertia last weekend. In a trip reminiscent of day trips from the College era, I went to Ooty from Cochin and came back all within 30 hours. In the process I hopped on four trains. On a tatkal ticket from Ernakulam on the Karaikal Express, I reached Coimbatore Junction at the unearthly hour of 3.05 AM. I understood that for the next phase of unreserved journey on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway I needed to be early. So I hopped onto a bus which luckily was going straight to Mettupalayam from the Coimbatore Railway Station. At the seemingly deserted Mettupalayam railway station it took me a while to find the queue for the unreserved ticket for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway or popularly called the 'Toy Train'. Even early in the morning there were four people in the queue. The notice said that only 30 tickets would be issued. As I waited in the queue, I had to stave off people trying to jump the queue. It was a good one and a half hour at 5.30 am when the station master appeared with a authoritarian looking Railway Protection Force personnel to allocated "tokens" for the ticket. I expected the queue to dissolve in a melee but thanks to the firmness of the RPF man there was order. The Station Master only allowed the exact number of people as per the vacant seats in the unreserved compartment. The lucky ones, including myself made a beeline for the booking counter across the road from the station. The booking clerk was issuing tickets only against the token. Back in the train it was still dark for any realistic photography. Nevertheless, I tried clicking the steam locomotives in the shed but without much success. 
Next: The train ride up the mountain.


Varuna said…
Good narrative. I can visualize the scene!
Varuna said…
Good narrative. I can visualize the scene!
Mrigank said…
Quite an adventure.... Coupled with a compelling narrative....

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