January 27, 2004

32 hours on a train

Yes indeedy, the trip from Chengannur to Hyderabad took thirty-two hours. That's from 7.15am Sunday to 3pm Monday on a train. Lying on a fairly uncomfortable vinyl bunk, the third level up from the floor. Reading Marian Keyes until my brains fell out my ears, writing in my diary until my pen ran out, and eating a lot of train food . . .

The train food was excellent. British Railways could learn a lot here (no curling plastic-wrapped sandwiches, lots of tasty dhal and rice). Although a British Railways employee probably wouldn't have served my food with bare hands, or wiped my plastic spoon on their shirt front. Undoubtedly my own fault for refusing to eat with my hands.

When I asked what to do with the empty foil trays, they mimed throwing them out the window. Horrified, but not wanting to hold on to them for another 12 hours, I left my trays at the end of the carriage. Probably for someone else to throw out the window. ;)

Now that I have severely lowered my hygiene standards, train trips are generally very enjoyable. Indian people appear to have a great fear of starving to death on train journeys. Every well-organised family group will be carrying a lot of delicious-smelling food in tupperware containers, pots, banana leaves or newspaper. As well as that, every five minutes (literally) someone will be wandering past with chai, coffee, icecreams, cold drinks, nuts, icecreams, or any number of tasty fried things like samosas. And yelling it loudly and incomprehensibly - "copycopycopycopy" etc.

I always worry about starving to death on public transport, so India is my kinda country.

We're now in Hyderabad, famous for its forts and museums. It was Republic Day when we arrived, which may have something to do with the fact that we had to go through ten hotels to find a vaguely decent room. And we don't have high standards. Honestly.

The roads are scccaarrryyy. We've witnessed two accidents in the 24 hours we've been here. One when our rickshaw hit a small boy on a bike (he walked away, a little sore), and one when an old man was hit by a rickshaw (he walked away too). Are we noticing a theme here? We've decided to take rickshaws from now on, because it's slightly less scary than trying to cross the road in front of one. Or forty as the case may be. We spent a good ten minutes trying to pluck up the courage to cross a six-lane road earlier. Much to the amusement of the locals, who saunter casually in front of speeding trucks.

After we book some more tickets etc, we're going to a big fancy museum. I secretly think Sarah is taking this last chance to try to pretend to be a proper tourist.

Oohh, actually my big excitement of today was that a train ticket person smiled at me. They NEVER smile, and mostly they make me go and line up at another window. Generally the one with the largest scrum. I think today's accomplishment was acknowledgement of the fact that I managed to correctly fill out a ticket reservation form (this is more difficult than it sounds), AND come up with the correct change. Yay me.

I'll be travelling solo as of Thursday. No more Sarah to save me from being run over by motorbikes (she's saved my life at least twice so far today). :( It's all a bit scary, and a bit exciting. I'm going back to the farm at Auroville for a bit of a rest and some yoga. Then we'll see what comes next. . .

Posted by eithne at January 27, 2004 09:09 AM | TrackBack
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