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No!! there were no Sri Lankans to help !!!

Photo Credit: Rail UK Forums

It was the late 1980’s .. soon after my wife and I first arrived in the United Kingdom. We wanted to visit a family friend .. an aunty who was the bridesmaid at my parents’ wedding. She had been in the UK for many years and it was time I should visit her.

Having got all the directions from her to travel to Bromley where she lived, we went through her instructions very carefully as this was the first time we were going to be on a train journey in the UK.

She said that one can get a train from Victoria Station. There were both fast and slow trains she said. The first stop on the fast trains would be at Bromley South but if it is a slow train, it will stop several times, before reaching Bromley South. Armed with this information, we set out on this epic journey with great enthusiasm.

I thought we were in luck when we managed to get on a train going via Bromley South. The trains at that time were the older type of trains where we had to open the doors with a handle.. not just pressing a button like what we have to do now. So we opened the door turning the handle and got into the train. Each section had four sets of seats facing each other, two on one side and two on the other, with an isle in the middle. We managed to get to one set which was vacant. Being on the train for the first time in UK, we then started to observe the compartment. To my horror, I could not see any handles on the door. Now my heart beat increased thinking that if the train was a fast train, how would I open the door to get down !!! I looked anxiously at the door and was trying to see how it could be opened. There were three other couples seated on the other seats. They were just ignoring me and offered no help at all,… alas .. THERE WERE NO SRI LANKANS TO HELP !!!

The train started to move. I was praying that this would be a slow train so that I could see how people got down, before we reached Bromley South. The train passed one station … and another … and another .. but did not stop. By then I had gathered that this was indeed a fast train and that I would be in a real enigma when the train stops at Bromley South.

I finally realised that the train was approaching Bromley South and that it was slowly stopping at the station. My heart beat was increasing. What would I do now? How would we get down? If we fail, where will this train take us?

I am sure god would have been looking down at us from above and having a good laugh. Be patient he would have said. Wait till the train stops!! … and it did stop .. and behold, the others got up to get down. What a relief !! I watched what would happen. One person went to the door, put down the glass shutter, then turned the handle on the door from outside and opened the door and got down. Needless to say, we followed this person very confidently…. And of course had a great day with our aunty.

Though there were NO SRI LANKANS TO HELP on the return journey, our confidence had grown to such an extent that we did not need any help this time!!!

Udeni Premaratne


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