My Love Story with Poorva began exactly 6 years ago when I boarded it for the first time to reach Delhi and ultimately move to Pilani. Since then, every trip I have made to and fro Pilani, (all but two) have been in Poorva. It was the train which we all prayed would move through Gaya and not Patna as it was slightly safer. It was the train where Soumya fought with the RPF while I pulled him away saying, “Iska tabiyaat kharab hain.” It was the train where we used to fight in every single journey with the daily passengers who never respected the right of reservation of seats in Indian Railways. It was the train where Bugs and Abilinda were the only two people aged 5 years or more who wore shorts through the entire journey. It was the train where Soumya and I got up on the train to find three juniors happily occupying our seats having missed their own train. It was during that journey that I found the most brilliant Punjabi family who gave us one of their berths and gave me their bedding to sleep on the floor. It was the train where Bodhi would start quoting his Tagore with Troy, Minu and Payel pitching in, while his batch mate Uddip, the most brilliant treasurer I have met, showed me how to make profits for the association even during a train journey. It was the train in which Dibba would talk about microbes as we blinked and focused our attention to Psycho who would prove his baptism to be true in every sense. It was the train where finally someone appreciated my story telling abilities and I bored the two of them to death. It was the train where the most amazing make-a-story was played, a story that could beat any Hollywood pot-boiler. After the normal twists were introduced by pseudo-ju and science fiction could not be put to use any longer, the plot turned incestuous and highly controversial and as critics would term it, ‘bold’. A visibly disgusted elderly gentleman walked off cursing the effect of television on today’s youth, but it remains the best impromptu story I have seen made or heard about. It was the train where new relations were made and old ones re-forged or broken. It was the train when someone in the group would shift in her place restlessly as soon as the train neared a certain station. It was the train which brought Souramita, Soumya and me, the last set of the batch of 2001, back from campus. It was the train which used to bring the ‘Bongs’ to Pilani.
But there was something about Poorva that pained me a lot. I used to stand at the gate, seeing the worried face of my parents, (who tried to smile very hard) slowing fading away and somehow I would pull myself inside the train and in order to look brave and macho put up a fake smile on my face. Then there would be the usual cacophony in the train, we would disturb every single soul in the compartment and start for the home away from home.
6 years later, things have all changed. Today I think everyone travels by Rajdhani to reach Pilani. The group, starting from the 97 to the 2003 batch have scattered everywhere all around the world. (The batch of 2004 came in as we were graduating.) Yet, today as I had to go back to work at Patna from Cal, the only way I could think of travelling was by Poorva and heaven conspired to book me on this train. It’s rare that as professionals today, we do not get the tickets we want, be it on a flight or on a train. But the rare things do happen to add spice to life.
And this time as the train left the station, my parents were still standing out there, but I could return back to the train without the smile on the face. I was travelling alone for the first time in Poorva and I still hate Goodbyes.