The train on platform number 7 will go to the siding. Passengers are requested not to board this train.
One hears such announcement often at V.T. station, but whenever I hear this I cannot help, but grin from ear to ear. Why. I will tell you in a minute. Siding is a track little away from platform, where a local train is parked when it has done its due for the day or has suddently developed a snag and is taken out of service. Local trains are also parked at the siding on the terminus late at night, for few hours, when services are suspended at the end of the day.
We have a dear dear friend who lives on the campus of our institute, were we office friends meet often, or in fact jump at the first available option, to meet and party, mostly on a Friday. This is also the time when I inflict on all my friends the wonderful tunes of great Rahul Dev Burman. We usually party till 11:00 p.m. and catch the last train home. It so happened, a few years ago, that we had a wonderful party and we all had enjoyed ourselves and it was quite late. The dear friend of ours suggested that we stay at his place and tomorrow being a Saturday, and hence a holiday for us, we can leave early for home. I was agreeable to this proposal, but the friend of mine (yes, the same friend with whom I shared the joy ride), had other ideas. He said no, we must go home and catch that last Karjat train. Well, I agreed with him and we catched the last train for Karjat. Now, this friend of mine has a peculiar habit: one minute he is chatting with you and next minute he will be snoring like Kumbakaran. I have travelled with him several times with me wide awake and my friend snoring away. Well, on this particular journey was also no different. I woke him up at Kalyan and told him that soon Ulhasnagar station will come and I will be getting off and he better not sleep off! Well, I got off at Ulhasnagar, but before that I woke my friend, who had again dozzed off. Badlapur is about 15 minutes train ride away from Ulhasnagar. It seems that as soon as the train haf left Ulhasnagar, my friend had dozzed off again. His station, Badlapur came and went and found him sleeping soundly. And he travelled upto the last station, that is Karjat, still fast asleep. It seems at Karjat station there was no one besides him in the train. The train after few minutes halt at Karjat was sent to the siding and the lights of the train were switche off. My friend was woken up finally by swarm of mosquitoes which had found an unexpcted guest in the train. Well, my friend had no option but to spent the rest of the night, few hours actually, in the company of mosquitoes. Badlapur is about 45 minutes train-ride from Karjat. The same train was sent off as the first up train from Karjat to V.T. at around 5:00 a.m. This time he did not make the mistake of dozing off and got off at Badlapur. You may ask how I came to know all this? Well, he actually told us all about it, in the next party! Whenever, I hear the word `siding', I am reminded of this little advernture of my friend and I cannot help, but grin.