The morning started with the breakfast onboard Rajdhani. We soon were in Mumbai the city of dreams, the point where my documentary film dream was to begin. After calling a lot of contacts that the CEFI Director, Vijay had provided us with, we managed to finally decide upon an itinerary for the documentary shoot. The time for the research being limited there were a lot of times when decisions had to be taken on the basis of circumstances, like we had to cancel the shoot in the Konkan belt because the season of herbal plant collection was over in that region. After mulling over from where to start once we were in Maharashtra, Yavatmal was chosen as the venue to begin the recce.
Yavatmal is a district in eastern Maharashtra. I had previously visited the neighboring districts of Amravati and Bhandara and the city of Nagpur on family trips. But reaching Yavatmal meant that we travel for twelve hours more from Mumbai to Dhaman Gaon.
After reaching Mumbai and making more enquiries we booked train tickets from tatkal counter. Now I cannot express the excitement that I felt during all this because this was the first time I was running around a station carrying my bag and very much aware of the fact that my mom was not around to cover up my blunders. And also pressuring my mind was the fact that I had to prove myself, not only to Sabiha Ma’am, my mom, relatives who had their doubts, cynical classmates but most importantly to myself that I was capable of handling the pressure. I, who had lived life as the delicate darling of the family and friends, was capable of living on the edge.
We were hungry by the time the reservation formalities were done. With food on our mind we went to the main station. Seeing a McDonalds and a Deli outlet our stomachs growled their respective appreciations. The food was disappointing. It was as Sabiha ma’am put it the beginning of the outdoors and its perils. I was sure that she was waiting to see a flinch or a shadow of regret on my face but there was none there, as I was on such a high that I was enjoying the bad meal days as well.
Once onboard the train to Dhaman Gaon in the second class compartment the task at hand was to upgrade the ticket to the Second AC. This meant that one of us had to search the TT and request him to do the honors. Ma’am asked me if I was scared to cross the bogies and find the TT. I call my self ‘railway ki santan’ as my mom is a railway employee and I have traveled in trains since I was a baby. But in all my journeys my mom never let me cross the bogies. Telling ma’am that I had butterflies doing a Shakira dance in my stomach at the mere thought of walking on that unstable and continuously shaking corrugated tin sheet was something that I was not prepared to do. Ego was playing a role you see. I don’t need any bungee jumping or white river rafting to match the adrenaline rush that I enjoyed just crossing that raggedy piece precariously bridging the two bogies of the train. Finally managed to get hold of the TT after adventurously crossing three bogies and the TT uncle very sweetly replied, “beta we will discuss this when I come to your bogie.” Now this answer spoiled all my aspirations of implementing all the skills of convincing (read bribing) the railway official. All the tactics that Sabiha Ma’am had tried drilling into me within 15 minutes were to be reserved for some other time.
Coming back the three bogies was not such a difficult task for me. Infact if at that time someone was to even speculate my being afraid I would have brushed off the matter. At that time I was confident that trapeze is something I should consider. Thank god that all that was momentary. And I have not changed my professional line so drastically. The TT kept his promise and upgraded our seats to the second AC. We followed the same process of calling all the contact people that our CEFI main man Vijay had provided us with and planned our itinerary accordingly. Calling strangers and telling them that we wanted to land at their door in the next two days and then shoot a documentary film was something that would scare most. But not me. Talking. Talking more. And then talking a little more is how all those who know me real well would describe me.
We went of to sleep with the knowledge that the next day was going to be hectic and a long one beginning at a remote village at 3:45 am. With dreams of a real adventure and the first visit to an Indian village occupying my mind I slept on a train berth for the second consecutive day!