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Some Memories..
Prakash Tendulkar


Location - Valsad (BL)

Time - Little after mid-night

Season - Monsoon

Weather - Pouring heavily

Day - Friday (actually early morning Saturday)

In mid-70s, I visited Atul Chemicals at Atul, near Valsad. It was unscheduled visit prompted by emergency of some kind.

Atul Chemicals' Amby dropped me at Valsad station around mid-night and I wanted get back home at Vasai ASAP. Section Engineer Uday Singh Rana was on duty. I checked with him and he pointed to driver and guard signing in to haul freight train to BAMY.

I knew both of them personally and they were very nice folks.

Unfortunately, the driver had a bad day and he was not willing to offer me a ride. So Guard, Shri Desai, offered me one in caboose. The driver retorted back saying that he will not slow down at BSR for me, no matter what happens. He meant it; I was sure after knowing him well.

My friend, former M/man Rajan was TNL (Traction Controller) on duty that night. After driver talked to him assuring that he will not lose any time, I talked to Rajan and sought his help but no luck. Driver remained adamant.

Shri Rajan knew me well; he simply chuckled and told driver, " I am sure, Prakash will get down at BSR".  If that was a hint, driver did not get it. With TNL on your side, you have plenty of options available.

Driver boarded loco; Desai and I waited for caboose to come near starter. Driver was notching in WCAM1 hard and we (barely) boarded caboose when it was running at 25 kms/h.

Running at approximately 75 kms/h we were running 5 kms/h above MPS. No big deal. The God ( TNL Shri Rajan) was watching us.

After passing Vaitarana bridge, I tried applying brakes to see if it slows down rake. No luck. The King (driver) had placed vacuum brake controller to "Release" position forcing exhausters to maintain vacuum.

As we were passing Virar, Desai asked me if I would know ASM on duty at BSR. I answered affirmatively because I knew all three regular ASMs plus back up ASM who would show up in their absence. And I knew every cabin man at BSR, too.

Shri Desai was comfortable with that answer.

As we were passing NSP (Nala Sopara), Desai held his red flag over lens of his flashlight and waved to ASM on duty. ASM acknowledged by changing green lens of his lantern into red quickly.

Bingo! Soon after we passed NSP starter, I could see signals at BSR changing their green aspects.

BSR outer became double orange, home became orange and starter became red.

Those days, BSR starter was located some  kms away from platform near cabin on south end. Rake stopped at starter placing caboose in front of ASM's office.

ASM Shri Marde was on duty. He saw me and said, "Saala, ghar jaaneke liye sab nakharaa karataa hai". (Making excuses for reaching home).

When he called Shri Rajan to report that problem with rake has been fixed, Rajan did not care to ask about what the problem was. He asked only one question. "Did Prakash get down safely?"

At this point, I started my Lamby for trip to home. It was almost 02:30 AM.

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