Here I am at the Railway Station of the ‘Orange City’ Nagpur, on my way to Bhopal. The name ‘Orange City’ becomes pretty obvious the instant you step down from train – mobile fruit stalls are all over the platform, with most of them devoted to selling only oranges. And the colour of these oranges are bright orange, not specked with green, which is usually the case nowadays. They sure whet your appetite, but we decided against them, for we still have to reach Bhopal, not to mention the tournament after that.
As usual, the ‘Aru Fever’ is on. This is a term coined by my friends and me. Let me explain it. It so happens that whichever train I board is bound to be late. From 10 minutes to 10 hours or more, a delay is always assured. It is as if the trains contract some sort of fever immediately after I board it, and hence the name ‘Aru Fever’. Anyway, the situation is no different at the moment. Gitanjali Express, which I boarded to come to Nagpur, was late by almost an hour, and this Puri-Jodhpur “Superfast Express” is already late by more than two hours. ‘Aru Fever’ has been contracted even before I am on the train.
The station is made up of seven platforms. The platforms are definitely cleaner than Howrah, both in the sense of garbage as well as in the sense of people. Not a single person is lying on the platform, and I haven’t seen litter strewn about either. Sure, the station is much smaller as compared to Howrah, but there are people who are periodically sweeping any litter. There is even a slogan of ‘Keep Nagpur Clean’ above the office of the Deputy Station Master. Seems like Maharashtrians know how to keep things clean and tidy pretty well.
Towards the entrance, a certain place of Platform Number 1 has arches like those built during the British era. There are waiting halls, book shops, as well as restuarants in this part of the station. There are a number of photographs hung on these arches, like those of the Assembly House at Nagpur, where the Winter Assembly of the Maharashtrian Government is held. I took a short tour of the Orange City through these pictures.
The striking feature of this station is its unnaturally quiet environment. I have been to a good many stations, and this is a highly quiet one. There is minimal amount of rush and shouting. The only things which can be heard are the occasional hawking of hawkers selling everything from books to food and the jingling of chains of a chain-and-lock seller, trying to sell chains and locks to secure our bags. The trains go chugging by of their own accord, with a sudden honk which more often than not makes me jump clear off the ground (or the seat, for that matter). A curious fact is that for a certain period of time, I could actually hear birds chirping, something I have never experienced on a railway platform before.
For some time I had become a bag-keeper, having been ‘coerced’ to look after all our, as well as someone else’s, luggage. There are 4 suitcases, two backpacks and one handbag. Believe me, looking after seven pieces of luggage, is not an easy job. My neighbor on the bench saw his chance too, and told me to look after his suitcase ‘for 5 minutes’ as he took a stroll around the platform. Having accepted the responsibility, Iwas quite worried as to when he would return, but he remained true to his words and returned in five minutes.
Another curious thing is the music that features before an announcement. It ranges from station to station, but here at Nagpur, it is exactly like the ring of a telephone. In fact, my mother was quite amused at first, for she wondered who’s phone was it that rung so loudly!
There is a bridge just outside the station, which clearly resembles the 2nd Hooghly Bridge back home, which connects Kolkata and Howrah. Here is a picture I took.
The only difference is that there is are two such towering types of structures on the 2nd Hooghly Bridge, unlike only 1 on this one.
As I mull over this interesting station, our train finally comes chugging in. There is the usual rush to get on, but somehow it seems cooler than usual.
Finally I board the train at 1.15 pm, precisely 2 hours after it was scheduled to leave Nagpur. As we leave Nagpur, I look forward to coming here again on our return journey.