Thursday, July 19, 2012

Of nearly missing trains and the DDLJ hangover

If you are in Europe , then nearly missing a train is an integral part of the experience. I blame it on the  DDLJ-Train hangover caused my Shahrukh and Kajol...and well Karan Johar.

I was not going to write a blog post for Nice, as it was a lovely but uneventful few days. No drama, no worries. Spend days walking around old town, lazing by the beach, swimming in the ocean, eating great fish, drinking nice wine, and sleeping in all kinds of places- on the train, on the beach, in a restaurant sofa which was by the beach, on the was simply perfect. Peace and quiet. Just what the doctor ordered.

Except at the very end...

As usual I had my last morning in Nice planned to a T. Final touches of packing, charging the mobile phone and iPad, having a relaxed breakfast in the balcony overseeing the ocean for the last time. I even had my travel clothes laid out from the previous night, so I could shower and scoot.

My train for Aix-en-provenance was for 10.57 am. So I decided to leave at 9.45 am. And woke up by 7.45 am. Now it all would have been more than sufficient time, had I not checked with the B&B hostess. She mentioned it would take 20 to 25 mins to the station, by tram, so I decided to leave slightly after 10 am. Also I came to the B&B the same route  so what could possible go wrong, right? WRONG!

Now if only I had relied on simple logic, rather than my memory, I would have been fine. I remembered the email from the B&B saying 'tram stop Pont Michel'. So I assumed the stop I took the tram FROM was Pont Michel. So I took the tram towards it. But it did not seem I remembered coming in this direction, so while going back, I should be taking the other direction no? Like I said, I should have relied on logic. And not my failing memory.

I still took that tram and the second I entered, I knew I had taken the wrong call. So after some serious internal debate, I decided to get off at the next stop. Crossed over, bought another ticket and this time took the train towards the station, aptly called 'Gare Theirs'- which should have given me the hint, as 'Gare' is French for station.

By this time I was terrified of looking at the time. And little good would that do, as I would either make it, or not.

So I waited patiently in the tram, taking in the beautiful Nice sights for one last time, and as soon as my stop came, I ran. I said 'pardon' a lot which can be used for 'sorry' or 'excuse me' and ultimately reached the station...almost breathless.

Now I am extremely anal when it comes to travel instructions. I read carefully, I check, I double-check, I cross reference, I ask, and as I am from Singapore, I also 'double confirm', before I make my way towards the platform/gate. And then I follow the same process before getting on the train/bus.

But there was no time for any such protocol today. I had memorized my train and coach number while on the tram. I looked up at the giant screen, found the train number but it did not say Aix, it said Marseilles. Now I took the leap of faith that the train would have multiple stops and Aix would be one of them. I saw 'voie B' which I safely assumed to mean platform B. I looked for the way to it, and it was surprisingly easy to locate. Went down 2 flight of steps, ran through a seemingly endless corridor- had a worried mum move her little boy out of the way, as I yelled 'pardon', and found my way to the platform. Now of course, with my luck my coach was the last one, and the previous one had a bunch of 15 school kids trying to get in. Seriously!

I finally got in, put my suitcase away and found my seat. And then it stuck me, because I had not followed my strict protocol, what if I was on the wrong train? So I asked the girl next me if this was the train for Aix. She was very sweet, but her command of English was rather poor to say the least. I think she thought I was telling her that she was on my seat. So she showed me her ticket and I cross referenced the train number- it was the same. I gave her big smile, said  merci beaucoup and sat on my seat heaving a big sigh of relief!

The train journey was beautiful, managed to get a window seat and saw the stunning French Riveria coastline and watched the landscape slowly change to green plains as we got closer to Aix.

It's embarrassing to admit...but I nearly missed getting off the train. I only managed to  within seconds of the door closing.  The queue for the restroom was too long, so I almost could not get off. But thankfully the stars were in my favor, and I jumped off the train...literally. 

So that is the story of how I nearly missed getting on (and off) my train.

Of course, if I hadn't got on, there could have been a DDLJ opportunity with a younger SRK. (He was tolerable in his younger days, to the extent of being pretty cute).

But well, we would never know now will we? :)

P.s. for my non-Indian readers (may be I am being presumptuous that I have any), but if there are, here is the link to the famous DDLJ scene- it has become one of those defying Indian cinema moments.

When he helps her get on the train-

When they both miss their train-

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