There Was No Time to Train

Misfortune tends to strike all of a sudden, and at a time when you are the least prepared

Vickey Maverick
Published in
6 min readFeb 27


A Deutsche Bahn (DB) Intercity-Express (ICE) train entering Hamburg Central Station [Photo: Vickey Maverick]

I was in my early 20s, and travelling around South Asia. It was an extensive vacation. On this particular occasion, I was carrying a lot of luggage, about seven pieces of baggage to be exact. In my present avatar, one which prefers travelling light, I cannot even contemplate carrying so many bags, let alone carry.

After completing a major chunk of the total distance, the train reached a remote station. It was a longer halt. The locomotive’s engine was to be changed. Having initially decided against it, I eventually stepped out of my compartment to stretch a bit, loosen up the stiff muscles and possibly pick up something to read.

There was a particularly interesting, albeit somewhat elaborate, article in a magazine. I was so deeply absorbed that I almost finished reading it while still standing at the kiosk. Well almost…

Even as I was flipping the final page, I happened to look up. To my horror, the locomotive had started chugging. I was stunned for a second. In the next moment, I had put down the magazine and started running at full speed, on a platform that was longer than most others.

All of my possessions were inside the train and I had no alternative but to make an effort to catch it. The locomotive was gathering momentum. So was I. It was man versus machine. No points for guessing who was winning. Before giving up hope and losing out completely, I hurled myself in. The body landed inside the second but last compartment.

It was a desperate, last-ditch effort. A sprint that would make a certain Usain Bolt proud, followed by a perfectly timed lunge forward. I got up with a few bruises. But it was worth all the pain.

My impromptu, somewhat risky and entirely unchoreographed stunt sequence had helped me to achieve my objective of avoiding missing the train.

I have missed flights quite a few times in my life. But this was the closest I had come to missing a train. Or so… I thought.

About 15 years later, there was an encore.

On this occasion, the circumstances were worse. For one, I was older. Secondly, I was no longer lean and thin. Years of abusing the body had not only ensured those unwanted extra kilos but had also put a major dent in my overall fitness and stamina. Running a few minutes in succession resulted in gasping for breath.

Gone were the days when I could sprint. I neither had the time to train nor was forcing myself to hit the gym regularly, as had been the case in my younger years. Besides, misfortune like this strikes all of a sudden, without any warning, and at a time when you are the least prepared.

Moreover, I was not alone on this occasion. In my previous post for Globetrotters, I had described how I pushed through with a vacation to Austria despite being affected by viral fever. This post is somewhat of a continuation of what happened once the holiday got over.

I and my better half were returning following this much-deserved break. As mentioned in the previous post, my better half felt feverish on the day of the scheduled departure. Worse still, the return involved a change of trains. Starting our return from Salzburg, we had a connecting train in Munich. We had been to Munich earlier, but by air. As such, we were not acquainted with the city’s Hauptbahnhof (Central Station).

My better half’s colleague who had previously lived in Munich had mentioned to her that it would be a scamper if we didn’t have adequate time at hand. We had less than 20 minutes to switch platforms, unless there was some kind of a delay of course.

Worse still, my better half’s condition was worsening. High temperature, cough, a sore throat, headache… well, she was suffering in every possible way. Amidst this worsening health and all the helter-skelter, my better half can be forgiven for not remembering her colleague’s advice.

To her credit, despite my pleas and reservations, she kept insisting on continuing with the journey. Maybe she just wanted to get back home. I did not argue with her, not just because I had been told before that the secret to a good married life is to not make a counterargument when your better half insists on something, but also because it was not the right moment to argue. So we just pushed through.

A Deutsche Bahn (DB) Intercity-Express (ICE) train [Photo: Vickey Maverick]

The train we had boarded from Salzburg, even as it approached Munich it kept stopping for some reason or the other. All traffic related, of course. We were losing time and were forced to keep looking at the watch. Worse still, we felt helpless, as we couldn’t have done anything about it.

Even as realization dawned, and trying to look for another alternative seemed the only alternative, the locomotive screeched to a halt. As we got down, we realized it was one of those outer platforms. The connecting train was inside the main station, and on schedule. The only way to catch it was to make another desperate, last-ditch effort.

It’s a sense of déjà vu coupled with the realization that on this occasion, it was the mind, and not the body, that would have to do the bulk of the work.

A combination of walking and running, and stopping a bit to regain breath, was the only option. We did precisely that. It was a race against time. The mind was hell-bent on winning the race, but the body was not willing to provide the support required. We were hoping for the best, and at the same time getting prepared for the worst.

While making a last-gasp effort, we were both gasping for breath after a few paces. She had slowed down a bit, but I had gathered the pace. It was a combination of efforts, and a comparatively better physical condition — vis-à-vis my better half — that finally helped me reach the platform where the train stood first. Carrying less luggage had also helped considerably.

Maybe it was a couple of minutes left before the train’s departure. I didn’t bother looking for the exact compartment. The idea was to first get inside the train and then proceed to find our assigned seats.

Despite her worsening health, my better half had done extremely well. Somewhere in my mind, I knew she would make her best effort. But with her deteriorating condition, I also had a hunch she may get confused as regards which train to board. So I stood waiting outside of ours. I was proved right. She was on the verge of boarding the train on the adjacent platform when she heard me calling her.

I palpably made her board first and then got inside myself, only to turn back and see the door was closing. Our luggage had got stuck in the slider. The continuous beep wasn’t helping matters. A passing passenger pushed from outside and helped me pull the suitcase in even as the door closed.

The locomotive had started, and I was not even able to thank the good Samaritan for his timely intervention — a regret I will have to live with forever. We patiently stood in that compartment, trying to catch our breath. In the first station (Nürnburg) where the train stopped, we made our way to the right compartment, where we had reserved seats well in advance.

My better half soon settled down and got some much-deserved rest, but I was restless. I couldn’t help but wonder which of my two ‘railway stunts’ deserves a higher ranking. While I am still undecided on that one, there is at least one record still stands.

I am yet to miss a train.



Vickey Maverick

Ditch the Niche. This effort aims at providing short insights as also detailed narratives on an array of topics, like slice of life, sports, travel and writing.