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Whether best or worst, ‘time’ is the only commodity most precious to all of us. Unless you take care of the minutes and seconds, they just fly by and wait for none. I have always insisted to my near and dear ones to make the best use of it.

Being a meticulous planner I see to that everything is in order before embarking on a venture. Checklists are made, friends are informed ahead and the whole family is geared up for it. One can imagine the situation in the case of a family holiday. Unable to put off an invitation, extended by my brother, any longer me, my spouse and our two children decided to visit Chandigarh, as we also had a family marriage to attend to at Ahmedabad. Tickets were booked well in advance, new clothes, suitable for a journey to Kullu and Manali, were purchased and footwear readied. Last but not the least we informed our office about our days off from work.

As the day of departure dawned, excitement filled the air. Clutching our baggage we boarded the train to Ahmedabad with a number of family members. Food, music and family chitchat turned the journey memorable.

After a joyful and pompous wedding at Ahmedabad we boarded a train to New Delhi with a quizzical look. “Are we not going to Chandigarh? Why are we on this train to Delhi?” I asked my husband. “I think our coach will be annexed to a train, that would proceed to Chandigarh, from New Delhi,” he replied. Though not satisfied with the reply I cajoled myself thinking _ He may be right. In a few minutes I could not stop enquiring a co-passenger about how one has to board the Paschim Express to reach Chandigarh. The instant reply stopped my heart. “Ji aapko Paschim Express me janee ke liye Naye Nizammudin station se hi janah hae (You can board the Paschim Express only from the New Nizammudin station).”

It was then I realised that our train would land at New Delhi and not at Nizammudin station, which would involve a travel time of at least 15 minutes. How I cursed myself for not discussing with my husband about the train timings. Bracing ourselves we nearly jumped out of the train at New Delhi and dashed to board a call taxi to Nizammudin station. With the little ones running behind us, we ran towards the platform, bag and baggage et al. We were elated to see Paschim Express, all set to leave, from the foot over bridge and heaved a sigh of relief. Alas, as we reached the last step the train graciously puffed away. If at all we had reached a few seconds ahead we would have definitely made it.

Man understands the importance of time only when he misses out on something in life. But the situation warranted action. After pleading with the railway authorities we managed to board a train to Ambala, an army cantonment area few kilometres away from Chandigarh. My poor brother brought his car to pick our family. We crammed ourselves into the vehicle with our luggage and drove towards Chandigarh. Hurray, we made it at last.

As the popular saying goes if you take care of the seconds and minutes, hours will take care of themselves.

LALITHASAI

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Working journalist. Has been in the print media for nearly 25 years

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