That Train Ride in India
As I am writing this on a train platform waiting for that speedy KTX to take me back home, I am looking at these two pigeons who have got themselves very comfortable with the human kind. It’s almost like one of them comes over and gives you that cool “what’s up” look while the other makes sure that he/she has his/her say as well. Oh wait..now there’s three. And four..five..eight..
What’s happening guys? Slow it down will you, AND Birdie! That’s not an earthworm for christs sake!
Stupid shoe lace devouring birds.
Alright, enough with our winged brothers and back to actually making the blog a blog. Today I will touching on travelling because 1. I love travelling and 2. that I am kinda travelling right now. But since the verb itself is a very broad topic to discuss, I will be specifically talking about train rides. Especially one in particular that I made in India in 2006.
If anyone has had experience with south Asian geography, they will know that the city of Banglore in India is quite some distance from the nearest city in India that borders Nepal. For anyone feeling adventurous, it takes about two full days of riding on a crappy train; and by crappy I mean really crappy. Of course, we didn’t take the AC (Air-conditioning) class but rather the standard class which ensured that we had as much “fun” throughout as we possibly could.
Forget privacy, because these compartments are as public as a public bathrooms. Anyone is allowed in and anyone is allowed out as long as they don’t steal your seats. Which also means that it’s quintessential that you bring a heavy duty chain along to lock up your luggage to the train.
The seats were made comfortable enough but not comfortable to sleep on; which we obviously had to do later on. The fun part was that three individuals had to share a side of the compartment at night meaning the seats would fold into a triple bunk bed. I got the top one with a great view of someone I didn’t know strategically placed at the direct of opposite of where I was sleeping. We both had to stick our asses out to avoid any chance of rude awakening.
The compartment window:
As people of AC class had complete isolation from the world outside, the standard class had just the opposite. The windows almost made you feel like you are a culprit and that you have been locked behind rusty looking metal bars. The difference being just that you are allowed to smuggle in and out anything you wish.
The windows also acts your infinite capacity dustbin. Need to throw away that plastic wrapper? No problem! Just shove it out. Need to clean your hand without having to stand up, well you have just the right place to do it! Need to clean out your nose, you better do it at the basin Mr.!
No review is really complete without describing in length how the bathroom looked like. To be honest, I tried, I really tried not to shit for two full days. But with all the eating I did without even a single step all day, it was physically, and mentally impossible to keep it in. The horror show had just began.
Let me tell you this though, by writing down how I felt about the bathroom does no justice to what I had experienced but I will try to do my best to give you a picture of how awfully difficult it is to poop inside a moving train* (*in India that is). Imagine this; you are tasked with cleaning out your bowl in a violently shaky toilet with only a hole to show for. And yes there was nothing else but a hole. A ugly looking one too. So basically one had to aim holding strategically placed handles on both sides.
Timing was the key my friend as stability was a major, major concern. Why not do the job while the train stopped…well you were basically not allowed to!
Now here the thing, India has probably the most eccentric bunch of people that god could have ever created. It almost feels that the almighty was too busy playing ludo with his other god friends and was so into the game that he completely forgot to take care of the people there.
While this might influence you to think that I am one brother-hating racist bastard, which to a certain extent I am, let me give you an example to illustrate my point. While on our way to our designated place, we stopped at a place called Lucknow. A couple of random people jumped right in and spread across the train to do stuff I really didn’t care. Until this kid showed up right in front of our compartment.
He must have been about 8 years old, he was lean, very lean and had a dark dark skin. He quickly scanned our faces and having understood that these people sitting down playing cards were alien to him, took time to just stand there and take the info in. And then he did something that really startled everyone; he started stripping his tops.
Hey little brother, I cried out, what are you doing?
He didn't listen, he went about taking his shirt off and then proceeded on doing something that I swear to god will go down to my graves. He started wiping the floor with the same shirt he was wearing!
Hey, I tried to speak but words didn't really come out. A puff of air was all that I had to show for to be honest. He wiped and wiped and then stood up and casually put it on.
He then stretched out his hands for money.
I never had that “HERE! TAKE MY DAMN MONEY!!” moment before but boy…was it strong.