11:00 a.m.: I am at Rachit’s house to enquire about our travel plans later this evening. His mother tells me he is still asleep.
3:00 p.m.: I call Rachit. Rachit tells me to meet him at his home at 5 p.m., as planned.
4:30 p.m.: Rachit calls me and asks me to come home.
5:00 p.m.: I reach Rachit’s home. He is waiting with his friend in the three-wheeled autorickshaw in which we will travel up to the bus stand. Rachit asks me to accompany him inside the house, where his family and neighbours sat waiting. Rachit’s mother brews some chai for us. In the meantime, Rachit’s elder brother Suraj returns from the market and gets ready to go: all three of us will be on our way soon. Rachit’s mother gives us each a spoonful of curd to sip, as a symbol of good luck for our forthcoming trip. Rachit bends forward and touches the toes of the ladies in the room in respect and seeks their blessings. Both brothers pick up their backpacks and step into the autorickshaw waiting for them outside.
6:00 p.m.: Rachit insists on driving the autorickshaw, and does so at enormous speeds of about 60 kmph, which in the narrow road could have been fatal. On reaching the bus stop, we continue to sit in the autorickshaw as we wait. Rachit’s friend is pained that Rachit will be unable to attend his wedding in a few months. Rachit gets talking with a co-passenger 22-year old Aravind who is also travelling into Punjab to look for work.
6:45 p.m.: Rachit, Suraj, Aravind and I board the bus to Saharsa. It is a small bus, with a capacity to seat 30-40 people.
9:30 p.m.: We arrive at Saharsa station. The train is scheduled to depart from Platform 1. Rachit spreads out a plastic sheet on the platform and asks his brother to sit there looking out for our luggage while he searches for something to eat. Rachit and I locate a low-cost eatery, the Janata Khana Store, where we buy litti (dough ball made of whole wheat flour) and samosas (pasties stuffed with mashed potatoes, peas and spices), which we take back to our companions. Aravind has brought some vegetables and paranthas from home, and we all share our wares.
10:45 p.m.: Rachit and Aravind want to confirm the train departure timings, so they go to the counter to enquire.
11:30 p.m.: They have made their enquiries and are back. Rachit lies down on the plastic sheet for a quick nap before the train arrives.