Train from Bhubaneshwar

We had gone to attend the annual meet of National Association of Students of Architecture in Kharagpur. On the way we had planned to visit Bhubaneswar. We finished our site visits and took up a couple of rooms to rest before catching our train in the early morning. We got huddled up and adjusted ourselves to get some sleep. We were not far from the station and had a lot of luggage so I decided to take a walk to the station and check things out for an easy transition to the railway station in the wee hours of the morning. Seeing a lot of local people outside the station, I had a funny feeling as approached it. As I reached the platform, I faced a different world. People were all over; sleeping, seating talking in groups, distressed, tired looking hopeless. Almost all bodies were lean and thin wrapped in white. Suddenly one realized the place is stinking acidic of vomits and could see small wet areas and puddles of puke. Now, one can see that this entire mass of humanity was exhausted bodies waiting for the train to come. I ran back to the room where my friends were asleep. Woke them up and brought to the station to catch the train before all these people could board! We were a smart lot therefore we hired taxies and went couple of stations in the direction of the train. Alas, the story was the same; the platform was teaming with people. Somehow the train came after a couple of hours into the day, jam packed. We scrambled into it and somehow found space to put our feet. I had a military jacket on which gave the group an entry and we could even find some space on the bunks! It must be around 300 people in one compartment. The train would be stopped every ten minutes as people saw their hamlet approaching. Nobody had bought tickets. Looking out of the train, all the land one could look at was wet. The mass of people from all around in Orissa had come to Bhubaneswar to protest against the most devastating cyclone in many years. They had come bare clothed and barebones with potlies (bindle) of cooked rice to last them a couple of days. Looking at the number of people the station and the city authorities had over chlorinated the water for ‘hygienic’ reasons. People eat plain rice with chlorinated water and puked. It was the stench of puke that the station emanated and the compartments were filled with. We were silent for rest of the journey, even when the train was nearly empty for us to be able to sleep. We were late by 40 odd hours extra to reach home.