I had NCC in college Air Wing. We had a Vayu-Sainik Camp which was to be held in Lucknow. Prior to that, a Pre-Vayu Sainik camp was held in Ludhiana, Punjab, where contingents from all over Punjab and Haryana participated where we were to be selected to represent Punjab.We boarded a train from Ludhiana to Lucknow. As it so happened, it was the time when the Ayodhya problem was going on. The trains were filled up with people going to Ayodhya. We found that our bogey was already full of such people and no one agreed to give us space to sit, although we had the bogey all booked. So, what happened next, happened in a jiffy.Someone pushed my friend Babbar and everything went haywire. The whole group of cadets went berserk. We threw each one of those guys out of the bogey to reclaim our berths. And so started the adventure, on the journey towards Lucknow.
Early morning, the train stopped at a place called Bareilly.It was a bit cold and the tea vendors came serving tea in earthen pots. Mahipal is another friend of mine who is very naughty and pulls pranks every now and then. Well, he was sitting on the berth next to the door.He was ordering tea for everybody. We all thought Mahipal is being very hearty buying tea for everyone, little did we know of his plan. Well, the train blew the horn, ready to move, and we could hear the guy arguing with him over some money. As the train started to move, we could hear the tea guy saying “Babu ji, paisa de do.. Nahin to acha nahin hoga”(give me the money or it wont be good for you)… but Mahipal did not budge. As the train caught speed, we could not believe what the tea man did! He filled a couple of cups with HOT TEA and threw it inside at us!!! And NOW, Mahipal had no SMILE, he was actually in pain where the hot tea had spilt on him. I would have loved to have a Camera at that time to take some pictures of full of Pain Mahipal
Just got over this episode, when we found that one of the cadets, oh bless! I have forgotten his name let’s call him “A”, he was found hanging for dear life at the door of the next bogey. We could see him banging the door, but no one was opening it. It was scary and we tried pulling the chain but the train would not stop. We were shouting, screaming but a moving train no one could listen. Then someone had the idea of waving red clothes, we had our shirts, tees, turbans all red-coloured, waving outside. We crossed a few stations and about half an hour later, the train started to slow down. The moment it stopped, each one of us rushed out,shouting for the people in the next bogey to open the doors.. The train guard – the driver all came over.. We found that the next bogey was full of Army personnel and they had a lot of ammunition in the bogey. They didn’t open the door fearing they were being attacked! HOW STUPID THE EXCUSE SEEMS!! (Thinking now had we got mobile phones we could have rung the emergency people or the police , to alert them about what was going on , It could have ended in a tragedy this little episode.)
Finally we reached Lucknow station to find out that the city was under curfew. We had nowhere to go, there were so many people on the platform. We took a corner, put all our luggage and stuff and sat waiting for some news. An hour or so later, we saw Mahipal come running with a couple of dozens of bananas. “Eat them, eat them.. hurry!!!”, he started to change his clothes while we had the bananas. Then we saw a man come with a big can, to tell us the story that he had been conned into selling bananas in exchange for 5 ltr can of kerosene oil .What had happened was Mahipal had found an empty kerosene canister, filled it with water, obviously the upper layer was full of oil. Hence the barter was made and the poor man, pranked.😀
So, the adventure continued for the next 20 days in Lucknow which was under curfew, while our camp was in the army area. But more fun started when the girls’ contingent arrived. Each day after 5pm, the whole lot of us would make sure to have a bath and get ready in our best clothes to impress the girls. IT was in that camp that I first saw a beautiful girl. It was love at first sight, at least from my side. 50% I was in …
After the initial few days of doing the typical boy thing walking around her, making sure I was there when she came out of girls camp site, the whole camp almost knew about this. I am sure she knew it too, although she denied knowing it. I was trying every possible way to get to talk to her but never got an opportunity something or the other always came in between. It was typical Bollywood scenes.
We were the bad boys of the camp, ended up in so many fights with other boys to prove that Punjab boys were the strongest. One day,we had this massive fight with the Agra boys. We had a boy on floor, me on top of him in a duel, and guess who comes by, SHE! The Camp Commandant gets to hear about our heroics, well it was heroics then, so what happens he calls me and Babbar to have a word with him, and IT HAD TO BE right in front of the Girls Camp gate! The CC is shouting at us.. he goes onto say “You with the RED Jacket, who do you think you are, You hit me 20 times I will not fall down But If I give you one punch, you will go flying”.. I HAD TO LAUGH AT THE DIALOGUE.. because I was almost 6ft, well-built and this guy was about 5ft 4inches, thin, Oh I so wanted to punch the living daylights out of him. AT THAT precise moment, the girl’s dinner bell goes, out comes SHE, watching me shouted at.
I have never felt so embarrassed in my life! I am sure she wished she had a camera to take a quick picture of me at that time
Soon, all the girls – even the ones from Chandigarh contingent stopped talking to us.
On the last day of the camp, we had a cultural show. The boys were performing the Bhangra, the girls had their Gidha, after our performance we were all standing together when my friends started to push me towards her, it was out in the open. I finally got the courage to go up to her and proposed to her the typical Punjabi style .. “I want to be fraaannds with you” To which she replied we are already friends ..OH now what… I blurted “No not that way, the other way” …she walked away I did not see her again that evening.
Next day we were to take the trains back to Punjab, I tried my level best to look for her, she was nowhere to be found, It was turmoil, my Sargent was shouting at me to hurry , in the end with a heavy heart thinking this is it I jumped in the last truck ferrying us to the station. My love story finished before it started…
We reached the station to find that there were two trains that we were booked on. Our train was at about 3pm, the girls’ train was at about 5pm. I was waiting, fingers crossed that there was still a chance to see her but luck was running away. Meanwhile, Mahipal was at his tricks, he was going around collecting money to go and buy some kebabs. Sometime later, he returned with them. As we had the first kebab, he made a comment saying they are beef … oooops with so many people into religion, we could see them trying to vomit it all out and GUESS what more kebabs for us.
As I was feasting on the kebab, Babbar told me “she” wants to talk to me, Oh my god, I went up to “HER”, there she was smiling, I didn’t know what to say when she handed me something gift wrapped, (The reason I could not see her all day was because she was running around for a gift for me .. awwww (I know) ) .. I was gob smacked did not know what to say, Opened the present it said “Dear Bikram .. Lots of Love R”.. That was a MIRACLE.. How did it happen , why did it happen ..
I don’t remember what we talked or what I even said. But I was the happiest person on that platform, I remember sitting on one those army trunks talking for so long. My friends making funny faces at us, while her friends kept doing the same to her.
Then came the time to board the trains, I did not want to go, so I went to Babbar and told him I Want to go in the next train, he was like how is it possible, We found out that 10 boys of Ambala contingent were going in the same bogey as the girls (lucky devils, i cursed the person who had booked out tickets). We talked to their Sergeant but he would not budge saying do what we may, we will not be allowed to go in the girls’ bogey.
I was not going to give up, First time in my life some girl had liked me, was talking to me , so now the race started to find someone to swap my place, but no one would agree. Who would want to do that, go with boys when they could go with such lovely beautiful girls in the same bogey… So we had to do what we had to do.
The 3pm train started to move… We caught hold of two guys from Ambala , dragged them to our bogey, where they were kept hold of. Both the trains were to pass the station at Bareilly, the idea was at Bareilly, the idea was I will get down there, wait for the second train to come, board it and be with HER. It would be dark, hopefully the Sergeant won’t see me enter the bogey.
Bareilly station came I got down with a friend, waited for the second train to come, then started looking for the bogey… suddenly I heard a voice “Bikram”… oh bless the sweetest voice.. another MIRACLE She had kept a seat for me next to her’s… we talked and talked the whole night, the next day… we both expressed our love for each other. So that’s how my LOVE started.
Wish in those days we had the luxury of Mobile phones or Cameras, to take pictures it would have been so beautiful to have captured those moments in camera, or the mobile phone would have come very handy when trying to figure out what bogey she was sitting in. Today, everything has become so easy, with the Internet and smart phones making love easier than before. But those times were difficult times, and who knows how many such love stories must be floating in the hearts of many a people like me.