Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Long Journey

After a week of relaxing at home, the time has come, yet again, to make that terrible journey half way across this great nation to Roorkee. Although I've made this journey so many times now that I've lost count, it always seems like a big deal.

The journey brings to my mind a common refrain - don't make an IIT in places that lack connectivity. I mean, this IIT is in Roorkee, which is in a small hill state called Uttarakhand, which most people confuse with Uttaranchal (it's earlier name). Connectivity here is pathetic: the trains barely wait at the stations because virtually nobody lives in this place to travel. For the same reason, there is a very tiny and very useless airport at Jolly Grant, which nobody uses except for chartered flights.

So, the only way to reach Roorkee is via New Delhi. Now, this city, the capital of India, is the land of mf's. On every roadside, there are at least a hundred dogs who want to hurt you, rob you, kill you or a combination of those. Despite the amazing connectivity that it boasts of, not to mention the best roads in this country, nobody knows traffic rules. In fact, the roads themselves forbid you from thinking about them. To go anywhere, drive down to the nearest roundabout, and choose from one of the six roads that branch out. Then, drive down to the next one and repeat this until you are lost. Finally, look at the street signs. That is, if you can pronounce 'Simon Bolivar Marg' or 'Nikolai Copernicus Marg'! Yes, it seems Delhi has actually managed to use up all Indian names, even as Mumbai tries to catch up!

So, after wading your way through this mess (or use the Metro - the one thing that Delhiites do not deserve), you reach New Delhi Station. Now, NDLS is a pretty unique station. You have to put your bag into a machine so that it an be screened. Amazingly, nine out of ten times, nobody is ever there to see - your bag just slips in and you can pull it out at the other end. You're never frisked and if that metal detector does explode, you can just walk by - it's all just show. The AC waiting room is so overcrowded that you can never find a place to sit (although it is well-used: after all, where else can you be greeted by men in towels who just bathed as though the waiting room is a 3-star hotel?). The non-AC room is so disgusting that hardly anyone goes there.

Finally, after boarding my dear Dehra Dun Janshatabdi, I travel across the Northern Plains as it gets progressively darker. Sadly, there is no way to know which station has just arrived, so you have to keep checking if it's your station.Again, it waits in Roorkee for a princely period of two minute, during which time half the train disembarks. So, book your place early - an hour early - and keep standing. Else, you might not be able to get off!

Once in Roorkee Station, it's bargaining time! The rickshaw pullers will loot you. Fortunately, the new guards are all armed with the standard rates, but as one puller told me, "they'll learn." Finally, there is a bumpy ride to the IIT Campus. I wonder which genius of a civil engineer put five tiny speed breakers on a mostly-unused road. It's a miracle we don't just fall off!

After all this, I'm back in RKB, with my dear LAN wire in place, my Soil tut incomplete (and due) and the practical complete (clairvoyance, you see). And that is how you reach IIT Roorkee. No wonder it's motto is - nothing can be achieved without hard work!

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