Making the Best of a 12 Hour Train Delay from Ernakulam Station, Kerala to Calicut

by Joji

We enjoyed our short visit to Kerala and wished we could have slept longer in our beautiful room at the Fort Inn, but our train was to leave at 8:10 AM and the station was on the mainland.  That meant we had to leave our room at 6:00 AM in order to catch the ferry at 6:20 AM.  However, this is a  day of lates, so let the lates begin!

First we missed our ferry because at the Fort Inn they lost the keys to the front door so they had to use a screw driver to remove the hinges of the lock to let us out.  5 minutes lost but we still arrived at the ferry terminal only to see it leave without us.  Check the time and it is 6:15 AM.  Huh?  Turns out the ferry leaves when it feels like!

Watching the sunrise from the ferry dock in Kochi

Good thing there was another ferry in a half an hour that would still give us a few minutes to spare at the train station.  Of course our ferry left about 10 minutes before its scheduled departure time so we actually arrived at the station 40 minutes before departure time.  The next thing to do was find out what platform our train was to leave from but that information was nowhere to be found.  This is nothing unusual for Indian trains as they are frequently late with no information provided.  We went to the information booth to find out its platform and there was a huge crowd trying to fight their way up to the front.  Again, nothing unusual about this as this is business as usual here.  I fight my way up to the front and am told that our train does not yet have a platform assignment due to a derailed train.  I asked the man behind the counter when we can expect a platform and he said it should be in 10-20 minutes.

Three hours later, after asking abut 7 times his response was, “I have no idea when the train is departing.  You can ask the station manager if he has any other information…”

We sat in the station for another another hour and they finally called out our train was arriving soon on platform 5.  We were elated and headed over to platform 5.  A few minutes later we were on board and ready to go.  Except the train wasn’t ready and we sat there for another hour before it left.  We had paid for an AC seat but because the train wasn’t running neither was the air conditioner!  All the while the temperature is hovering around 37 degrees Celsius and inside the train car was much hotter!

Finally after over 5 hours of delays the train was on the move, only to stop 15 minutes later at the next train station.  Here we waited another 45 minutes before proceeding.  Apparently, the derailed train that occurred last night was causing a nightmare for the train operators and many of the locals were saying that India is terrible when it comes to emergency preparedness.  This is when I met Joseph, a medical sales professional who lives in Kerala.  He told me that if a train in India is late, it will stay late.  That means if a train is running on time it will be given the right-of-way on the tracks.  They will not make a train that is on time a late train in order for back logged trains to catch up.  So our train was going to be late … very late.  Then our train began to move again.

Another ten minutes later we stopped again at the following station.  This time we sat there for 3 hours!  Since it was much too hot to sit in the train car, most of us exited and milled around the station in search of some food and cold fluids.  Trying to make the best of the situation we chatted with a bunch of locals who were either on their way home from a trip or were on their way to a holiday … Not a good start for them!

Joseph and I chatted a lot about many things since we had so much time on our hands.  Eventually we started talking about India’s favorite pastime, cricket!  Right now is the IPL tournament and everyone is watching and playing cricket!  Of course, most Americans have no idea how to play the sport nor understand the first thing about it.  Yet, for the past few weeks, Heidi and I have been sporadically watching it on television trying to figure out the sport!  Joseph tried to explain the rules, but then the train was ready to go!  So off went again for a little while and we went and stood in the back of the car where the doors are open and you can get some fresh air, since it takes about 15 minutes before the AC actually begins to cool off the car!

We started to talk about cricket again and this time it caught the interest of a few other Indians who were eager to explain every asset of the game.  It was fascinating to witness their enthusiasm as their eyes became large and their hand movements became more theatrical!  At one time there were 4 guys all shouting at the same time trying to explain the rules that it all sounded like mush to me 🙂  Finally, an 18 year old guy somehow overpowered the rest as they retreated and we all listened as he explained the rules of cricket and the current tournament.  While I now understand most of the rules, I still wouldn’t know how to play the game without actually going out to the field and trying it.  Cricket is perhaps, a more complex sport than baseball, but Joseph insists that is not the case.  He claims that baseball is a more refined version of cricket.  Yet, he tried to explain how cricket is more finesse sport since the bowlers (pitchers) throw a variety of pitches and that baseball is just the opposite, where they just throw a ball.  I argued that it wasn’t true at all about baseball and that we have many different types of pitches in baseball as well!  One thing that we did agree on is that their tournament is more worldly.  Similar to FIFA, there is a world cup where many nations compete for the top honor.   Whereas in baseball, in the U.S. we call the top tournament the World Series, when it only has 2 countries competing.  Hardly fair to call it that when you think about it right?  Instead, baseball should also have a world cup and only then should the championship be called the ‘World Series’.

Interesting how you can pass the time without getting upset.  We just kept telling ourselves that hey, this is India and they run on their own time.  16 hours later we arrived in Calicut (Kozikhode).

Scroll to Top