Tuesday, July 15, 2008

murphy's law

Murphy's law states that "If anything can go wrong, it will".


I first encountered the murphy's law when i was in school. One of my friends mentioned it and we had a bet that there was no such law. And that friend of mine bought a big thick book on murphy's law to prove that he was right and there is actually such a law.

There has been numerous instances throughout my life which are in line with the murphy's law. But the most recent one was the best.

I was coming back from my in-laws place - chattarpur to delhi. The journey is divided into two parts - part 1 from chattarpur to jhansi by bus. And part 2 from jhansi to delhi by train. Part-1 has to be covered by bus only - and the number of government buses are very low - they are rarely seen. Major bus operators are private who want to make the most by filling up as many passengers as possible per trip. The distance from jhansi to chattarpur is 135 kms. And it takes approx 3 hours by bus. Imagine standing in a very crowded bus for 3 hours without voluntarily movine a muscle. All muscle movements are involuntary - inspired by the movements of the bus and the pot-holes on the road.

So, the story goes that my train was at 6:11 pm and so, taking a buffer of 2 hours, i left from home at 1 pm and caught the 1:30 bus which should have left me at jhansi by 4:30 - max 5:00 pm - which leaves me enough time to go and catch the train. The bus i sat in ran at very slow speed - stopping at all petty stops and even on the road to pick up & drop passengers here and there. I realized that we were running very slow when we covered half the distance in 2.5 hours. So by 4:00 pm we were still 75 kms away from Jhansi. It seems that the bus driver and the passengers both realized this fact at the same time as well - so the driver started over speeding.

I got some hope that we will reach by 5:30 max - still giving me half and hour to catch my train. But then the inevitable happened - a railway crossing and a jam. The train crossed 15 minutes later and it took 15 minutes to cross the jam. Now I was sure that i will miss my train. But the bus driver started speeding. I think its max speed was 65 kmph on which it ran most of the way. Still stopping here and there to pick up and drop passengers.

I started counting milestones. When i saw that we were 20 kms away from jhansi and it was 5:30, i knew that i will either miss my train or as usual the train would be 15 minutes late and i will be lucky enough to catch it. As soon as i saw the jhansi border i jumped off the bus and ran looking for an auto. It was 5:50 and i was desperately hoping that the train would be late.

I flagged down an auto which was carrying 4 passengers and asked him how much time would it take to go to the station. He told me 40 Rs and 10 minutes - by the watch. I told him - i will pay him 50 if he makes it in 10 minutes. All 4 passengers were dropped at the nearby bus stop and the race started. The auto-driver, an old guy tried his best to overtake other vehicles and ride ahead but it seems that autos are not made to race. They are steady means of transport and cannot go beyond 30 kmph.

I was getting nervous and at 6:00, i asked him how much time - he said 2 minutes more. And then out of no-where we were in front of a red light and there was a traffic cop asking all vehicles to stop. I never expected this to happen. It meant that due to this red-light i will be missing my train. My mind went back to school and i recalled my friend who had taught me the murphy's law. And i made up my mind that - as per murphy's law, i wont be able to catch the train. I will miss the train by seconds. But i may as well try to catch it. Maybe my luck would work out and the train would be late.

So, after 5 minutes instead of 2 the auto left me at the station. I handed him 50 rs and ran. Running all the way shouting - "bhaiya hatna" / "jane dena". I saw people moving out of my way - looking at me with an expression of "WTF" in their eyes. I ran up the stairs and towards the 5th platform on which the train generally is. But reaching there, i saw there was no train. I was going to give up when i thought why not get an idea - by how much time i missed the train. And so, i asked a passerby. And he told me that the train was a bit ahead on the platform.

My heart leaped. And i jumped down the stairs. There was a cop standing there and he looked at me with tons of suspicion in his eyes. I asked him the bogie no - "C8" and he realized that i have come late. He told me go straight ahead and I again ran. It has been ages since i had done any physical exercise. And i was out of my breath. I had a heavy bag on by back. And i was sweating like anything. My whole body was paining and asking me to relax & slow down. But i still continued and finally jumped into the C8 coach.

Rushed inside and found my seat. The train whistled and started moving. I looked at my watch and it was 06:12. The trains are generally late by 10-15 minutes. But this time, as per murphy's law, he train was exactly on time.

If anything can go wrong, it will...


Kapil Chhabra said...

But all did not go wrong. You finally caught the train and reached back safe. The incident also gave a story to publish and a good read to your readers.

Jayant Kumar said...

It is more like "what you expect to happen does not happen or the opposite happens".

When i expected to be able to catch the train - i was delayed. And when i gave up all hope, i was able to catch the train...

Kapil Ohri said...

Very Interesting post Jayant, u r a good story-teller.

Tutor said...

Nice Story. Perhaps I can teach "Murphy Law" to my students at EduwizardS

Nachiketa said...

well... allze well that endz well........