Boudhanath Prayer Flags - On Halloween Night...

Friday, September 24, 2010

By Sleeper Train Across India...

On the "Karnataka Express" from Bangalore to Agra - Chugging North somewhere in Maharastra state, past corn fields, some wide-open plains, a few hills and rocky outcrops, and lots of overflowing rivers and lakes. Each bridge we’ve crossed only spans a small portion of the full width of the waters…. Flooded fields everywhere... levees and sandbags protecting the train trestles... India has had Lots of rains this monsoon! In fact we’ve been hearing news of major flooding up in Delhi along the Yamuna River. It will be nice to see plenty of water in these usually crusty muddy rivers, but it could also mean delays for roads and trains, as well as higher incidence of Dengue Fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

We all had really restful sleeps last night, here in 3AC class… Six beds per compartment, a fan and cool AC air, but all the windows are sealed. Therefore you miss out on the wonderful breeze & the exotic smells of the Indian countryside as you roll by… But you also miss out on the dust, diesel smoke, mosquitoes, and occasional fester-stench, so sealed windows do have some advantages! You can always go to the open doors between cars, and soak in the outside air… It's a 2 night trip, about 42 hours total, and overall it’s been a leisurely interesting ride… gazing out the window at bullock carts, unusual crops, egrets and other birds, small mosques and temples, wide open scrubland, muddy roads and overflowing lakes. Brilliantly-clad women walk down roads with water jugs and other lumpy parcels on their heads… Monkeys line the walls in several towns we’ve passed… Kids and old men in dhotis lead strings of water buffalo down the path… Crowds of scooters and motorcycles wait with their riders at railroad crossing gates… The sun sets & rises we chug north; that impossibly deep orange Jupiter-like orb that seems native to India. We’ve also seen several “pooper fields,” with 10 to 20 dudes with their pants down, having a nice sunrise crap near the tracks… It’s been a comfortable & amusing ride!

Here is an entry from Eliza's Daily Journal -- “I have really been looking forward to our train ride across India! I slept in a middle bunk, and when I went to sleep I was very cozy and comfortable. There is a tiny table next to the window where we eat snacks & fruit, and do our school work. There is a quiet man sharing our compartment, but he mostly stays up in his top bunk talking on his cell phone. Today we are keeping my bunk folded down, because my sisters and I like to hang out up there.

One thing we love to do is stare out the window, because there are LOTS of animals to see! I think the most common thing is tons of cows… Many people in India have cows because in the Hindu religion cows are sacred. They can also do useful work like plowing, pulling carts, and giving milk. Other animals I’ve spotted are water buffalo, goats, sheep, dogs, horses, donkeys, monkeys, and all kinds of birds. My sister Sylvie said the even saw a wild peacock!

During the train ride, food vendors walk up and down the aisles selling drinks, chocolate, chai, coffee, sweets, and hot meals. It’s really funny how they advertise their snacks. My favorite is the chai man who calls out in a loud squeaky voice, “chai chai garam chai!” Once he stopped at our compartment, peeked in our curtain, and asked “CHAI?” Lupin yelled “NO!” He gave her a funny look and moved on… Our family’s favorite train food so far is called “cutlet,” which is a yummy fried potato veggie snack served with ketchup! We’ve had it twice already, and I hope the cutlet man will come by again! I really love train rides, especially in India!”

No comments:

Post a Comment