Last Updated on May 15, 2019 by Soumya
Around 11 pm that night, the lights in my train flickered unsteadily for a couple of seconds and suddenly went off leaving the whole train in weary darkness. I had been on the train for the past 4 hours and instead of getting anywhere close to my destination I was, now, staring at a bright, moonlit sky and unending pastures of green grass through my huge, glass window pane. The view was grayscale but I could make out that we were stranded in the middle of a beautiful meadow replete with greens and blues. If only the authorities would open the train doors, we could all go camping, I thought!
People were getting restless inside the carriage. This was supposed to be a 4-hour journey. We had already spent 4 and were nowhere close to our destinations. Many had missed connections, some were already sleepy, and a few were dying to get out and smoke. Quite a few had canceled their dinner plans and were rushing to the pantry to salvage whatever was left there.
This could not be happening on the Deutsche Bahn, I thought. I was in Germany, after all! I double checked our tickets and we were, definitely, in Germany on a train from Berlin to Kassel. Germany is where things are predictable, trains run exactly on time, and nobody ever misses connections! Or was it? We would soon find out.
Exactly 4 hours ago in Berlin, I had settled down on my seat with a delicious slice of butter cake or butterkuchen as they call it in German. You must try it if you haven’t yet. It is a perfect mix of indulgence, flavor, softness, and elegance. Quite my favorite dessert in Germany!
The train had started alright from Berlin. Only 5 minutes into the journey and we could all sense that something was amiss. The train had dragged on slowly for a while, losing speed every minute and then had stopped completely. The engineer announced that there was an issue with the main engine and they were not really sure they could repair it en route. And back we went to Berlin again!
Another tense 45 minutes in Berlin before we got moving. And then we started picking speed. Oh boy! Was everyone excited? It was almost as if Germany was making its way into the FIFA finals. But alas! That did not last. Did it?? Neither did our speed. We slowed and slowed and slowed until we grinded to a halt at the beautiful countryside. And then we lost power for 5 whole minutes.
Those were the quietest 5 minutes of my life! Nobody shouted or screamed, nobody hurled abuses, and absolutely nobody frantically paced the carriage. The silence inside almost matched the darkness outside: stoic, calm, and enduring!
A sense of calm washed over me and suddenly I felt nothing but peace. And lo! Up came the lights again. The train had been rebooted which, obviously, was a new concept to me. Rebooting had caused a power outage and power was restored as soon as the system was up and running.
The reboot seemed to have helped the train and we were moving again. Everyone smiled as we started gaining speed. I said a quick goodbye to my grayscale meadow and hoped to make my connection in Kassel.
But we had lost too much time. There was no way people could, anymore, connect to Frankfurt, Fulda, and some other smaller towns because there were no more connections left. Did that mean that we were to be stranded in Kassel in the middle of the night? With a sleepy 5-year old in my arms, the idea was not very palatable.
But that was not to be and Germany had thought something for everyone on board!
Taxi vouchers started floating out, first for the towns closer to Kassel and then farther. We, the Frankfurters, waited with bated breath, for our fates to be decided since we were the farthest. Our vouchers never came by.
What came by was a decision that was received with excitement and glee. It was more ingenious and responsible than anything I could have ever imagined.
“The same train would go ahead and take us to Frankfurt even though the train was hours past its last destination and the crew was exhausted beyond its limit.”
In their attempt to finding an alternate transport, the authorities had actually found the best one: a train that already had everyone seated and would require minimum disruption. I smiled at the smarts and the resourcefulness of the team. It was a happy ending, no doubt. Everyone had been taken care of instead of being left in the lurch. I was in Germany, after all!
That is when I realized that problems arise everywhere, but how you tackle and solve them defines the real you. And somehow at that very moment, Germany was the real winner for me. World Cup or Not!