Departure was scheduled at 7:30am from Lafayette and it was supposed to arrive at Chicago at 10am. My intuition was right! Lafayette-Chicago ho ya Gorakhpur-Dadar... trains have to be late! Good that I booked a connecting bus at 2 and not 10:30 believing on the western efficiency!
We reached the station at 7 and saw no one! Not even an attendant. The entire station looked deserted. Then we realized where the waiting area was and to our surprise it was completely filled with people and supposedly we were the last to enter! The TC greeted us warmly and then told us that due to flood warnings (where we failed to see even a drop of rain anywhere!) the train had to reduce its speed by 10mph. With the American GPS technology, we instantly realized that the train was half an hour late. Finally it came at around 8:15 and I boarded!
Unlike what I had imagined (as shown in classics of 60s!) this train turned out to be a chair car. But it was spacious and comfortable. It started from Lafayette; I waved to Neeraj and fell asleep instantly. I woke up in around an hour and found the train was not moving. I heard an announcement that there is some switch failure and two people are working on it. Listening to this I dozed off. Another hour and I opened my eyes to realize that it’s still at halt. What was new to me that the train had a running commentary, where all they told us was that they didn't know anything, but these two people repairing a failed switch. What was this **** switch!!!! Nobody knew. Everyone was clueless. One more announcement told that there was a goods train over that switch, which is now moved and those two guys can now reach the switch! This made me realize that this so called switch.. is something which is outside, probably on the tracks... and not in our train!!! :P. A couple of more announcements acknowledged their efforts of fixing that switch on a Sunday morning!
What was different was this American manner of alleviating the restlessness by telling "Don't worry... everything gonna be fine... we are together gonna fix this honey!!" (Only the kissing part that usually follows was not seen)
Aisa hote hote finally it got fixed and the train moved. It was some 15 miles from Chicago and we heard one more announcement! "A second switch has failed! But don't worry, this time the people working on it exactly know what the failure is and they will fix it in couple of minutes!" WTH!!! That means previously they were clueless!!! But they did fix it in couple of minutes and we reached Chicago at 1:30.
In the meantime my mom was restless back in India and couldn’t sleep until that switch got fixed and I reached Chicago!