Saturday, January 15, 2005

Night Train to Mubai

The big day finally arrived for me to take the train to Mumbai. The train left the Howrah Station at 19:30hrs. So I did some laundry at Sundar's place and hung it up to dry in my room with the fan going like mad. My father assured me it would not dry in time, but little does he know about the wonders of synthetic clothing! Everything did dry by 4pm and we took a bicycle rickshaw to the station - I thought it was funny how this was not possible on Monday when I wanted to book a ticket!

The station was bustling and we killed a few hours sitting watching the crowds do their thing. We had a delicious meal at the station restaurant - chicken biriyani and then I had another chicken curry and rice since it was a 34hr train ride. Sundar showed up 1 hr before my train left to give me some biscuits and grapes for the train.

The train ride itself was uneventful. I had the top bunk which stays deployed all the time so I could leave my stuff there and go have a nap whenever I wanted. I slept for at least 20hrs as my bunk was more comfortable than my seat. The car was comfortable all day and most of the evening, but between 2am and 6am it was cold enough I was having trouble sleeping. I only have a small airline blanket with me - so I put on some running tights and a jacket as well. The rest of my travels will be in southern India so I am hoping I won't have any further cold nights.

All day long vendors and people begging for alms came up and down the aisles. I had change and was able to give money to people finally! One very funny thing is on three occasions transvestites got on the train and asked for money. If I understand things correctly they basically shame men into giving them money by hanging around them and clapping their hands and singing. The men get embarrassed and give them money to go away. The first one worked me hard, but there was no way I was giving money to someone just for wearing a sari. I think after a while he/she got the message and moved on. The other two didn't even bother me. One young man came down the aisle with only small stumps for arms and twisted legs - so he could only shuffle. I went to give him money and realized he had no way to accept it so I put it in his pocket - very sad..=-(

The train got to Mumbai a couple hours late and my carriage completely left the train. Only after the train pulled away did I realize I was not at the central station, but at a small outlying one called Dardar. It turned out to be no big deal as I took a 5Rs local train the rest of the way. It ran with the doors open so I got a good view and it wasn't as crowded as I had heard these trains can be.

At the Mumbai central station I took a day room, which I share with two, other people for 336Rs and had a shower. They had full running water, but I have been so conditioned to conserve water that I just got wet then turned off the water while I soaped up and turned it back on to rinse.

I called ahead to Anjuna to get a room for my first two days in Goa and hit up an internet cafe to put this post up and check my e-mail.

Next I need to get some food as I only ate biscuits and grapes on the train. I have been told not to eat train food, but it is awfully tempting and I might give it a try the next long ride have to take.

Then I will wander around as I have a lot of time to kill till my 11pm train to Goa.

Of note is the fact I only saw 4-6 tourists in Kolkata and maybe another 4-5 here is Mumbai. I am assuming that will change when I hit Goa - although some people have said the Tsunami may keep some travelers away.

Travelling by myself has been a lot of fun so far. Without having a local guide who speak the language things take longer and there are misunderstandings, but I am learing tons of new things each day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We look forward to your updates & check frequently. After reading your 2 most recent posts, I think you are getting a perspective on India that a lot of tourists don't experience. Like that smoky men's club you went to for a beer :-)


January 15, 2005 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

On your next post, it would be great to hear about how you felt, how people reacted to you, what you smelled, what you touched - these are the things that make for travelenture!
Looking forward to hearing more!

January 16, 2005 at 11:09 PM  

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