The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Saturday, November 10, 2007

7:10 to Liverpool Street (Part - 2)

There are more rail maintenance weekends in the UK than maintenance free ones, I tell you. Health & Safety, as Jeremy Clarkson rightly points out, has probably gone to great lengths to ensure that no one will ever die in a rail accident hence forth. But chances are, the odd traveler will still die. Out of the sheer boredom of jumping off trains, getting onto replacement buses and boarding more trains again, all for traveling as little as a hundred miles.

Now let’s get the picture. On a maintenance free weekend (this is assumptive and fictitious. Such weekends do not exist), the logical way of reaching Z from X would be:

X -> Y -> Z

But on a normal weekend (read rail maintenance weekend), your casual pleasure trip would seem as convoluted as this:

X -> W -> V -> U -> ……….. -> A -> Z (Hurray!!!!)

Now if you thought I was exaggerating, then you’re mighty mistaken. When I got a travel itenary printed out along with my 11 pound ticket, I knew things did not look ominous. One look at the itenary and I was already beginning to feel like an Amazing Race participant on AXN. Train ride to neighbouring town Ipswich (40 mins). Hop onto replacement bus service to Marks Tey (40 mins). A train would mysteriously manifest itself in Marks Tey they said and take me to Stratford (58 mins), wherein I would need to go underground to eventually reach Mecca in a shade under 3 hours. I even asked at the counter if I could make a de tour in the middle somewhere so that I can reach Harwich and take the sea route to Southend-on-sea and then make it to London from there;ensuring all modes of transportation are covered as well. But apparently there was maintenance work on the rail route to Harwich. Damn!!!


And considering this journey was happening after an hour of vainly trying to spot the Great Bear and the Orion, I was not obviously in great spirits. And it did not help when one of the fellow star gazers who I had befriended over the long wait, asked for the 17th time that morning – ‘You reckon I got a chance for a coffee in here mate’. ‘Hmmm’, I nodded in a ‘Don’t ask me again’ manner. And for the first time that morning, divine intervention happened with the PA system announcing paninis, sandwiches and coffee at the front end of the train. He rushed off; seeming genuinely pleased at the turn of events. And I was happy coffee happened to him before murder did. The train had picked up speed and grassy knolls were now whistling past in silent early morning splendor.


What seemed most diabolical about the itenary was the journey breaks. They were so planned and timed so as to ensure you would have to change train to bus and train again right in the middle of a short blissful stretch of sleep.

Ipswich happened a few grassy meadows later and very soon I was on a double decker replacement bus, coasting along the A12 to Marks Tey. Now how weird can a place with a name like Marks Tey be. Obviously, it seemed like one of those boring non-descript towns whose claim to fame itself was that replacement bus services to and from Ipswich started and ended here. There was an unfriendly sting in the air by now and a few unruly clouds were already rolling in from across the Channel.


The Stratford bound train seemed strangely empty. I was fairly convinced that we started as a fairly decent crowd back at base camp. And yet there were only two replacement buses awaiting us at Ipswich. And now there seemed even fewer people who had made it to the third leg of the journey. Star gazer friend had made it however, seemingly in better spirits after his early morning caffeine shot. He even sought my advice on whether he should buy his nine year old daughter a mobile phone. ‘Give her a whacking’, I suggested in good earnest. Wonder if he took it.

Stratford an hour later:
Strange as it may seem, many of the flowery skirted Jane Austen type old ladies whom I had thought were lost on the way had resurfaced. I was happy for them, sitting there in their Victorian ways like in a Westend musical. Everyone else looked at everyone else in an empty London sort of way; ears plugged to Sean Kingston singing Beautiful girls or some such thingon their IPods.

10:10. London Liverpool Street. ‘CG, where are you?’, me on the phone.

‘Where are you?’

‘At the station man. You there yet?’ I grumbled.

‘Oh, I am at home da. I was waiting for your call. Will start of right now’.

The freak lives in Hampshire. It was raining outside. The BBC weather forecast was sizing the day up as wet and windy. I sat there for two hours counting the number of whooper burgers that Burger King sold. By the time CG arrived, I had counted 46. I had half a mind to stay till they managed to sell 50. And then of course it would be time for me to catch my return train. Back via Stratford, Marks Tey and Ipswich. What fun.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

So this was the boring trip to London you were talking about! Too bad!! this one was not as bad as KSP's adventure trip from Norwich right?:-)


November 11, 2007 3:14 AM  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

What a lovely abt grassy knolls and all I say. No scones dripping over with melted butter and a small but elegant tea service?

England means England boss, you follow?

Kyatmaranhalli Kumaraswamy

November 11, 2007 9:41 PM  
Blogger Naveen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 12, 2007 4:47 AM  
Blogger Naveen said...

too good chap, as always...i bet the return trip was even more horrible..i hate the weekend maintenance stuff! can't remember 1 weekend where i had a peaceful journey from norwich-london and back! i guess it becomes more irritating on the return journey when all u can see is your comfortable bed at home!

November 12, 2007 4:51 AM  
Blogger Naveen said...

hey..idea!! why dont we walk to london beside the rail tracks and see what the hell they keep maintaining!! :o)

November 12, 2007 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool stuff mate.. must have been a really boring Sunday !


November 12, 2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cant wait to hear ur return trip..POST NOW!!! plz :)

November 12, 2007 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahah:) see now u know why the Brits colonised the rest of the world.. it was easier to travel to India than to London

November 13, 2007 4:09 AM  
Anonymous A passer by said...

Next time may be you should stop at Stratford and catch a Shakspearean play instead...may prove to be more entertaining than Burger counting(in no way undermining the entertainment that must have provided :))!

November 15, 2007 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one. Ultimately you have reached your destination though boring, though long, but the new country side might have given you some consulation.


November 15, 2007 4:12 AM  
Blogger Sudhindra said...

Wait till you get back to Bangalore and BMTC :)

November 15, 2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger Preeth said...

@S -> Doesnt ur heart go out for poor me dying of the sheer boredom that this trip had to offer.Dont tell no. And dont laugh.

@bikerdude -> Come to think of it, I've actually not tried the scones thus far. Mental note made.

@Naveen -> Haha.I agree in absoluteness. We must go on that trail.

@Laxman -> You should be glad it was me and not you.Thats all I can say.

@Bebo -> U sadist or what? Hehe.

@Jayesh -> Haha. Super analogy. And to have thought that it was saffron and spices!!!

@passerby -> Oh I think u get the Stratford wrong. The max I can accomplish in this Stratford is get mugged by a few brudhers.

@M -> The rain actually blurred the view through the window.So it dint make any difference if it was countryside or anything else.

November 15, 2007 3:54 PM  

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