Saturday, March 17, 2018

9W231: en route Mumbai VIA N80: en route London - part II

3 Oct, 2-3 minutes past 10 pm:

Now What? It was already past 10, and I had no ticket for 10:15 bus.
Last hope for the bus was internet banking. That worked and we managed to get a ticket!

Now we were waiting for the bus. So we booked the ticket for 10:15 bus at 2-3 minutes past 10, using bus app.

3 Oct 10:15 pm
Abhijit: Arey, the bus is not coming. That is why I do not prefer the bus. I use pool-car.
Me : Hey man, be positive, the bus will come. (We were already tensed and this man is hoping for the worse!! :D)

3 Oct 10:25 pm:

Finally, the bus came - N80 - Dusseldorf - Eindhoven - London was written on the route-board of the bus.

But now, I had another tension - this was a sheer after-effect of panic situation we just had; maybe Murphy's law (?)!

I should have checked the pickup and drop point of flixbus in Eindhoven. For, if it is not near Sanket's home, I would have to see for some local transport. Considering that the bus was reaching there at 12:15 am and Eindhoven being a relatively smaller city, that would be still more difficult.

Anyway, I got my passport checked and luggage kept in the luggage compartment but now I had no clue where would I be dropped and how am I going to travel in the foreign city at 12.15 am and catch flight to India tomorrow morning!

Then, me and Abhijit started asking the same to the driver and co-driver of the bus.

Now, they were French and knew very little English! Oh no! Ab yahi hona baki tha!
But, once you get struck in bad situation, you start feeling unlucky in every case.

"My English - poor!" - said the co-driver. We tried to ask the question to them in various ways, but as they were not getting the meaning of the question, they were simply reluctant to answer. When we approached the driver, he simply ignored us and started looking at the documents of other passengers. That driver, just reminded me of a typical ignorant public servant at many places in India.

Without that confirmation, I was also not ready to get into the bus. What a drama!

3 Oct 10:35 pm: I was just walking here and there and Abhijit was talking to other passengers to see whether he could get some information as to where is pickup point in the city of Eindhoven. There were people from various places in the world - viz., some from Arab countries, some from other countries etc. So it was very hard to find a person who would know both French and English in small subset of people, going from German city Dusseldorf to London via Eindhoven, Netherlands!

Meanwhile, through internet, I found that John F Kennedylaan (JFKLaan) is the pick-up/drop point for the bus. Off to google maps - I immediately saw where it is - on the map, it showed that it was far from station. This was certainly going worse than we thought!

SOS to Sanket for help! I asked him via whats app - He said that the JFKLaan is near his home.

By that time, Abhijit finally found a girl passenger who was also travelling with us in the bus. She knew both English and French and could talk to them! Oh, finally some help! 

Then, she asked the driver - "Is the pickup point at Eindhoven near the railway station?"
He was still reluctant to answer but said frowning, that it was near the station. However, considering the series of events that had happened I was not too sure. Because the way he answered was not ensuring enough.

Then, reluctantly I got into the bus. 

3 Oct 10:40 pm to 4th Oct 12:20 am: I would never forget that hour and half of my life. I was fully tensed. Although I was tired and body was demanding sleep, I simply could not afford to sleep. I turned on my GPS, risking mobile battery and started it to see where I am going. There I was amongst very few passengers who were awake during the travel, continuously looking into cellphone to see GPS tracking. Cutting through the blanket of darkness, the bus left the city of Dusseldorf. German roads are devoid of streetlights. That night, they were scarier for me.

The girls who asked the driver was sitting nearby. Her name was Jeanette.I requested her to do translation for me if the drivers make any announcement in the bus using speakers.

I have this habit of sleeping during travel. So I was afraid that if I keep sleeping while the bus stops at Eindhoven, I would straightaway wake up in London! But I don't have a valid visa for the same. Then I would get into legal troubles! Oh God! Fearing the same, I asked Jeanette, "How the bus will the bus cross the border, through tunnel or through ferry. "It is not certain!" she replied, "But there is a checking at the border!"

What a foolish thought I had! If a person does not have a valid visa, how would they allow him/her into their country! Anyhow, with full efforts I stayed awake throughout the journey. 

I could see the signboard showing direction towards Eindhoven. After 5 minutes or so, bus entered a city. "This must be the Eindhoven city", I thought. Although, I had spent just two days in the city, the street lights, white and yellow, were so assuring.

Finally, the JFKLaan was there. I could see the familiar bottle statues. 

John F Kennedylaan at Eindhoven

Haah! 😌😃

It was a feeling like coming to my home-town. At last, I was there at the city of Eindhoven - on the familier roads near station. I walked to Sanket's house. I could sleep for at least 4 hours at his home. By morning train at around 6:15 am, I reached Schiphol airport at around 9 pm. 

So there I was, from N80 en route London, to Flight 9W 231, en route Mumbai!  

A selfie clicked just after I reached Schiphol Airport

(This is a short incident which is very memorable to me. This was during my first foreign visit. I visited Netherlands and Germany for European PV Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Sept-Oct 2017. This incident is while return journey)

9W231: en route Mumbai VIA N80: en route London - part I

3 Oct: Last day of my first Europe visit. Me and Abhijit finished a small tour of Cologne city and returned to Wuppertal by Deutsche Bahn (DB) train at around 4 pm. Then, I needed to go to Dusseldorf again to catch a bus to Eindhoven at 10.15 pm.

But wait, I was supposed to go to Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) 12 hours before my scheduled flight time (which was 11:30 am on 4th of Oct) and stay there at the airport, right? I had booked an ICE (German version of bullet train) ticket also to travel from Dusseldorf to Schiphol.

Roll back a day

2 Oct 11 am: I was roaming in University of Wuppertal and Abhijit (Abhijit Bahirat, my friend who was hosting me in Germany) had gone for work. Suddenly, I came to know, through a friend, that, Schiphol airport does not allow passengers to stay at the airport (That is allowed only if your flight is just during the night time). But as I said, I had already booked my ticket of ICE from Dusseldorf to Schiphol on 3rd of October. I hurriedly called Abhijit from the University and asked him what to do.

I was roaming in the University of Wuppertal when I got to know from a friend, that Schiphol does not allow passengers to stay at the airport.
However, as he was at office, it was difficult for him to coordinate with me and then book the ticket from there. We searched alternatives - found an ICE from Dusseldorf to Schiphol - but that was at 4 am - so that option was ruled out! Now what to do? We decided to book the ticket only in the evening when Abhijit would return home. 

On the top of everything, I was already suffering from cold and cough due to the windy and cold weather in the hilly Wuppertal. I half-heartedly roamed around in the town before returning to Abhijit's home at around 5 pm.

Original route planned by ICE: I was supposed to reach Schiphol at 23:41 hrs. My flight from Schiphol to Mumbai was at 11:25 hrs next day. But the Schiphol airport does not allow passengers to stay at Airport during nights. Hence, the whole plan changed.
2 Oct 5 pm, Abhijit's home : We sat together to seek other options available. Trains were at 4 am on 4th of Oct and it was from Dusseldorf. It was not possible to go to Dusseldorf from Wuppertal at that time. Suitable buses were also not available. It was certainly not practical to sit outside the airport in the cold weather with the cough and cold. In fact, before flight journey of 9 hours duration, it was not a good idea to stay the airport in the first place! 

2 Oct 5:30 pm: Suddenly, I thought of another plan - I would stay at Eindhoven at Sanket's place which is sort of midway from Dusseldorf (Wuppertal) to Schiphol (see the picture). I had already visited Eindhoven last week and hence I knew that there are intercity trains every half an hour from Eindhoven to Schiphol. So now the changed plan was to go to Eindhoven; stay at Sanket's place and then go to Schiphol airport.

By that, I will have some sound sleep before I depart for India. So I asked Sanket, my friend at Eindhoven, if I can come tomorrow at his place. He agreed - hussh! So now, we started to search for tickets of bus from Dusseldorf to Eindhoven for 3rd of October. But again we had a small constraint - we had already planned long back to tour Cologne on 3rd Oct.

We searched for some bus options as well. But they were not feasible.
Meanwhile, there were two options for buses - one at around 6:30 pm and the other at 10.15 pm. We took the 10:15 pm option, so that we would get more time to roam in Cologne on the next day.  

I changed the plan where I would go to Eindhoven first before going to Schiphol airport.

Roll over to 3rd Oct again -

We completed our short tour to Cologne and came back to Wuppertal.

3 Oct 7 pm: We took a DB (Deutsche Bahn) train from Wuppertal to Dussledorf as I have to catch bus at 10.15 pm to Eindhoven. This train would take us to Dusseldorf at night in around half an hour. We reached Dusseldorf at about 8 pm.

Me and Abhijit

3 Oct 8 pm: The temperature at Dusseldorf Hbf (main railway station at the city is called Hbf) was also chilled and I was a bit upset with already having cough and cold. At the same time, I was feeling nice after trip to Netherlands and Germany and now going back to India. Now, there were handful 2 hours before us. So we went to a Thai restaurant at station itself for dinner. We had a cup of coffee at a nearby coffee-shop.

So we came out chatting with a coffee. The flixbus pick-up point is just outside Dusseldorf Hbf. So now, there we were, where I was ready to board the bus and start the return journey of my first foreign trip.

3 Oct 9:45 pm
We were at the bus stop.
Abhijit: The buses usually come late. I am not sure what will happen.
Me : Arey, take a chill pill! Do not worry. The bus will come.

3 Oct 9:55 pm
I was just re-checking whether I have proper ticket in my mobile. I had already checked it once in Wuppertal - the train time, "To" and "From" fields were all correct. 

But now as I scroll the ticket - "Oh god! What am I looking at - the name on the ticket is not mine - it is Abhijit Bahirat. Oh no man! WHAT IS THIS??

That had happened yesterday when Abhijit booked the ticket in hurry due to change of plan. So while booking the ticket through mobile-app, the mistake happened.

I showed it to Abhijit asking with a "How am I going to get the bus. Without bus, how am I going to go to Eindhoven?" And immediately, dozens of thoughts hovered through my mind - 'If I do not reach Eindhoven, how will I catch flight tomorrow? In worst case, if I am unable to catch the flight how will I cancel my ticket and book a new ticket? Will I be able to get to ICE tomorrow in worst case? How do both of us miss the name on ticket while booking!'

However, at the back of my mind, I was sure that I would reach airport tomorrow in time. This sort of gut feeling at times helps me to stay calm in panic situation (although I do get anxious and restless to some extent).

But how to go ahead now? The sim card in my cell phone was not active and no wi-fi was available nearby. So I had no internet then. Now, using Abhijit's cell phone we started to look for ticket. 

Oh Man! Those 2-3 minutes were really emergency situation for two of us. He logged in to the bus app and tried to book the ticket. There were some seats left in 10:15 bus. But his card was not working as the credit card was Indian. 

Friday, April 7, 2017


Real number line with finite precision,
That is how we measure,
The vastly infinite and immeasurable…
Nature’s absolute treasure!

Ratings, scores and indices everywhere,
You know, that’s easy to compare;
Marks, grade and divisional shade
Numbers arise and colours fade!

Wanna watch a movie, surprise twists and unknown story?
Oh! That’s a perspective of a bygone age 😕
IMDB ratings or ⁂stars⁂ only matter;
Movies are rated by their scores’ percentage!

How impactful are Newtons’ discoveries?😑
Or Gauss’, Eulers’, Ampère’s thoeries?
Negligible, aren’t they? with miniscule h-index!
That’s what matters; mere research is like fairies!

Entertainment counted in Tele-rating-points (TRPs),
It is also a numbers’-game
Oh! You might be a brilliant artist,
But with low TRP, you are just a shame!!!

“How do you feel?” – is it even a valid question?
ABCD, SAPS-II, Wells and Krenning – scores of scores [1]
Treatment of humans – going impersonal… 😕
Doctors’ job becoming just chores!!

Learning machines and un-learning people,😑
Thus help the numbers, to the “so-called” progress
Just pause a little before we forget -
Poetic pleasure in life, in a run for success!!

[1] This line describes names of various scores used in medical treatment.

Image source