As I entered my berth in coach B2 I was mightily surprised to find a lower berth LB allotted (I almost felt like I had hit a jackpot with a roll of dice) Yae! I was about do an invisible Hi5 when 3 Gujarati speaking ladies entered the cabin. And soon enough the youngest among these, a cute looking lady requested me to exchange the lower birth to the middle one for her elderly mother. The request was laced with too much sweetness and I just nodded my head trying hard to keep a straight face.
A few moments later a similar request was made by the lady to another guy who had occupied the other LB. It was for the aunt now who had been allotted the upper birth. The guy looked a bit crestfallen , he said he had nasal problems (did not specify what it was at the time) but offered to adjust with the middle birth guy (which was obviously me because the lady occupied the other middle birth). So with two unwitting promotions i found myself on the upper birth and this passenger just below me. There was nothing unusual about him, except for a piece of flap (a kind of dog ear) that came right behind his head and covered his ears.
I guess the guy had been traveling earlier (the train was coming from Mumbai) for he hit the sack pretty soon and began his deep guttural sounds. The nasal problem he had mentioned earlier seemed to be a mild statement in passing. THERE WAS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THEM; sounding like the twin exhausts of a rundown sports car. More specifically like the Spitfire engine of WW2 Jet fighter hovering around as he went into deeper sleep.
The sound had a particular acoustic effect on me as I was right above him, a dog fight like situation every now and then where this slam-dunk fighter pilot come right under and created one hell of a turbulence (being struck down once and for all would have been a better option though) . I frenetically tried to beat the problem; reached out for my Philips Gogear (portable media player) to thrust it as far as i could in my ears but as if lady cruel luck was smiling upon me, i could only find the MP3 player without the earplugs.
I thought of plugging in cotton buds but it was like holding an umbrella in a thunderstorm. So helplessly tried to draw my mind away from the problem but very often this guy would break into different rhythmic cycles of grunts & snores that became too difficult to ignore.
Every passing minute now seemed to bring in added agony. I stepped out of the AC cabin hoping the TC was still around and Voila! (bless the almighty Railways) he was still around immersed in the reservation chart. I explained him my problem and requested for another berth. He muttered something in Tamil and started to run through the list while I held my breath and made a quite prayer.
After a while he said B51 was available . I almost felt like hugging him for releasing me from the torture chamber. I quickly made a dash to the ill-fated berth and picking my belongings waded through the cold and dark railway bogey (which by now resembled a morgue with several dead bodies wrapped in white sheets). Finally I located B51 which again seemed to be an upper berth.
There was a bigger problem waiting for me though: this section had 2 snorers who were already in their elements by the time I had arrived!
Imagine my state when I landed in Coimbatore the next day morning.