On Sunday morning, phone rang up with good news. Our special coach from pune to delhi had been confirmed. Everyone had a sigh of relief especially the family guys having their spouse travelling with them.
It was around 4 am and we found ourselves half waking-half dreaming on the platform waiting for the arrival of Goa express. As soon as the extra coach was attached, we hopped on. Of course the family guys were given preference in selecting their berths which they used generously.
In such a long journey, there are few activities that one can resort to. To name a few, one could sleep his way throughout the journey which is my favourite. Another is bakaiti which had its own delights. Take a random topic, consider yourself master in that, curse a few well known people and voila!, you are a bakait in no time. Playing cards is prominent among all. The uncertainty of game resembles life in a way. It was a good time to settle the account of coats. Of course, you can complete the long forgotten novel, but this most of time remains an idea till you get to your seat.
The day was hot as hell. It’s a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. Only that it wasn’t a lousy part of Delhi. State entry road, runs parallel to Chelmsford’s road had taken us there. Yamuna rest house is near to NDLS. The CRB was to address probationers in the afternoon. Besides IRSE, probationers from IRTS, IRAS, IRPS, IRSS and RPF had gathered there. The small rooms of rest house seemed even smaller with one washroom being shared by 6, 7 peoples!! We managed somehow by thumping doors of washrooms occasionally.
CRB’s address was as dry as the month of may. Food was good and it really took away the frowns from faces. By evening, mob scattered and took abode to various places. Some went to rest houses at Yamuna, Lajpat Nagar and Luteyn’s bridge. Some retired to Ber sarai, Katwariya sarai to their chaps who were still perspiring there to get a taste of success.
And the fortunate day came, the next day 06 May 2015, when girls were busy in straightening the plates of there ivory white saries and boys in adjusting each other’s tie-knots. Bus was waiting outside yamuna rest house.
Crossing the Rajpath, One could see the famous Dome of Viceroy’s House through the uphill road at raisina hills, flanked by secretariat building on both sides. It was nearly 12 o’clock, sun was brightly lit over the wide roads of New Delhi. Vehicles looked dancing over the roads radiating heat. Bus took right from the Dalhousie’s road and we entered a highly secured area.
The front or the east gate of Rashtrapati bhawan has a large courtyard. There stands a peculiar column ( called jaipur column) having a lotus on the top. The lotus sprouts a star.
At the base these words were inscribed…
“In thought faith
In word wisdom
In deed courage
In life service
So may India be great”
On the right, A Gulmohor tree was blooming. Red at the top with green underneath. Guards were standing in front under a small shade made of sandstone. They invariably resembled the gulmohor with their red turbans and dark green uniform. Infact, everything was of sandstone in red and yellow. Thick walls, Oversized Pillers, Cannons depicted administration and authority.
We waited for our turn to step out of the bus. The grand staircases protected by 12 giant columns received us. Durbar hall is right under the great dome. Instead of expressing luxury, It reflected austerity. The statue of Buddha in abhay mudra was situated at one end of hall looking over the throne. It was all around draped by maroon velvet drapes which gave the setting a sense of royalty. A large chandelier was suspended in the center.
We waited there for a while. Staff introduced us with our surroundings. The Durbar hall was the same place where transfer of power took place, the annals of freedom were written, the shackles of slumber were broken.
At last the Honorable President of India arrived, Dressed in impeccable black buttoned up suit, with the golden chain of his pocket watch visible. Before he came all sort of rehearsal of photography session was done. Staff was diligent, how to address him (not his majesty, but Honorable President), checked the speeches, about who had to receive and how one receive him.
Two of the probationers shared there training experiences, some facts and aspirations. During training we traveled to the corners of country, met with people of different races and culture, watched sun going down to the depth of ocean and rise again from the heights of mountains, observed peacefully the faith of devotees bathing in holy rivers, the thunder of oceans at Kanyakumari and silence in the deserts of Rajasthan. For this and all, we were indebted to railways.
The president shared his words of wisdom with us. Although, the thing with wise words is, they are easily forgotten. Let me recollect some of them.
He stated that the scope, exposure, and responsibility that career in government offer, that too at a very young age is rare. The 162 year old railway is one of the oldest railway systems in the world. Railway finances have exponentially grown from Rs. 183 crores in 1947 to Rs. 1.59 lakh crores in 2014-15. It is the virtual lifeline of the nation and has also now joined the select club of 1 billion tonnes plus freight loading Railways.
We should serve the people of the nation by putting in their best efforts. He called upon us to uphold the high standards and dignity which has been maintained over the years.
After the photography session was over, we had tee and snacks in the banquet hall. It was long room having golden curtains against the background of brown wooden walls with the portraits of previous presidents. It had a long long table in the middle.
Then the crowd dispersed and there began another photography session. Everyone was crazy in clicking and saving the moment. At the great stairs, in the forecourt, by the column, cameras and probationers were everywhere.
Inspite of a piercing sun overhead, the joy couldn’t be refrained. On the right, A Gulmohor tree was smiling. Red at the top with green underneath….