VINAYA WALAVALKAR – MANTRI
While gazing at the rain, I feel like sharing a memorable experience of my life. Two years back, on July 19, we had a show of our drama ‘Pai Paishachi Gosht’ at Ujjain. After arranging all the things, our team was ready to leave for Ujjain. I decided to travel with Ila Tayi (Ila Bhate) in Avantika Express train while the rest of the team travelled to Ujjain by road as they wanted to enjoy the rains. Everything was happening as per the schedule.
Our train was supposed to reach Ujjain the next day at 7 am. We had our dinner and went to sleep. When we got up at 6 am in the morning and were ready to alight, It was still raining outside. We could see vast green fields and villages tucked in them. We were expecting to reach Ujjain in 15 minutes. Our team had already arrived in Ujjain and was constantly in touch with us as they were supposed to arrive at the station to receive us.
Approximately around 13 kilometers ahead of Ujjain, there is a small village called Naikhede. We noticed that there was no proper platform at the Naikhede railway station when our train halted there. For first few minutes things looked normal, but as the time passed we realised that the train was still not moving and the passengers started becoming restless. It was more than 30 minutes and we could see no sign of train moving ahead from there. We soon got news that the train will not move ahead as the heavy rainfall had flooded the Ujjain railway station.
This brought in a volley of questions. How do we go to Ujjain now? What should passengers do now? How long can we remain stranded here? It was now three hours that the train had literally grounded at this small station.
The irritation was palpable in the air. The passengers were hungry and exhausted. To multiply our worries, someone told us that the train will not go to Ujjain but instead will go in reverse direction to Ratlam and Indore. Those who were destined to Ujjain will have to get down here. The news was unpleasant. The passengers surrendered to the situation and those who wanted to go to Ujjain started alighting at the station. What made things worst was that the station was without a roof. There was little shelter over head around the office of the station master and people started gathering themselves below it to save themselves from getting drenched. Few could accommodate and the rest were in the rain. We two were amongst those who were not lucky enough to steal a place below the station master’s roof.
Avantika Express left the station in reverse direction. Then came a news that railway will provide special bus for the passengers to reach Ujjain. Before we could even rejoice over that piece of information, there came another news that we would be accommodated in the train which is arriving from Pune. The time flew by, but neither the bus nor train arrived. We were once again fed with the information that the miscommunication between station master and railway police resulted in bus being cancelled because train would be arriving.
The uneasiness could be sensed in the atmosphere as passengers were hungry and irritated with this unexpected turn of events. Before the anger could turn into a protest, the sighting of train at approaching station pacified everyone. When the train arrived everyone tried to squeeze themselves in it adjusting at all the possible vacant spaces. Some who were less lucky had to stand. I was prompt enough to inform my team about the latest development which gave them some relief. But things were yet to get into happy ending mode. The new train was also grounded at the station with no sign of it moving.
It was afternoon and we began hearing more news about this new train which was supposed to be our savior. Some said the engine of this train has been sent ahead. Some said another train is stuck ahead. We kept on munching on newer information till we realised that this train will not move an inch. I decided to update my team about this latest turn of events but by that time they had started coming towards us by road. We were about to feel happy of being getting rescued by our vehicle but someone suddenly punctured our happiness with the information that roads are also blocked. The bridge that linked the station to Ujjain is also flooded. Oh Gosh! Means another spell of torture. But even before we could feel the sadness, my phone rang. My team informed me that they are just around the station. We got down from the stationed train, waiting for them.
And what happened after that replicated a perfect film scene. As we got down from the train, the bogies moved. In no time, i received a call that my team could not reach to the station because the villagers had dug up the road to flush out the water. With this we had lost our patience. The two of us were left on that station along with another family. Rest all the passengers had travelled to their destination.
It was 3.45 in the evening.. We had no idea what to do. Then again, i got a call that my team had managed to find another way to the station and they were accompanied by another vehicle which was coming to pick up the family which was stranded along with us at the station.
Me and Ila tayi who were supposed to meet our team at Ujjain station at 7 in the morning finally could see them at 5.15 in the evening after going through a hell lot of torture and irritation.
The organisers who were with our team told Ila Tayi that there is flood at Ujjain and since she must tired with the unexpected events, they are ready to cancel the show. But Ila tayi was prompt enough to respond “I have taken such trouble to reach here. Me and my team is all set to perform tonight. But you all take the call if you want to cancel the show because of the floods.”
The organisers were stunned and speechless with the professional attitude of Ila Tayi. We reached our hotel at 6 in the evening. After a quick tea break, we reached Kalidas Kala Mandir. Our team was ready and all set. The show was delayed by half an hour. The organisers apologised to the audience by informing them about the situation that resulted in the delay… and the show begun.
The show was successful. There was no lack of enthusiasm due to the exhausting travel schedule. The organisers later held interactive programme with the audience. During the chat with audience, the team got a pat on their back for meeting their commitment for hosting the show despite city floods.
But the real appreciation goes to the audience albeit the fact that their houses were flooded they kept a date with the show. Something that was incredible that gave a sense of fulfillment for our team as performers.