Thursday, February 10, 2005

trains, trains and more trains!

My last evening in Hampi I went up the hill next to the main temple and just chilled out for a while listening to the sounds of the town. I noticed there was music and clapping come out of one of the temple courtyards so I went to investigate. There was a Indian classical music concert underway which was quite good. I found my self head bobbing and clapping in time to the music. I think my next trip to India I will bring a tape recorder as well as a camera - there are so many cool sounds here!

I grabbed a taxi to the Hospet train station and met a German girl there named Sabrina. She was quite friendly and it was nice to have someone to chat with for the 2hrs till my train arrived. I am getting quite accustomed to riding the trains now and have my own routine so that when I climb into my bunk I can just go to sleep. At first I had my backpack with me on the bunk, but that made it quite short and I had to sleep with my legs bent which was not so comfortable. I have become less worried about getting stuff stolen so I just leave my backpack on the floor under the lowest bunk and don't worry about it - I keep my money, documents and camera with me though.

The train ride from Hospet to Bangalore was uneventful and I managed to sleep for 4 hrs until various babies in my carriage decided to cry non-stop - those damn breeders!...=-)~

Sabrina was going to Mysore and since my train to Chennai from Bangalore did not leave till 23:30hrs that night I went with her so I could meet up with Tom (my seat mate on the flight over) who was doing yoga with Patabis Jois (SP?). The train to Mysore was super slow - taking 4hrs to go 139 kms! But, Sabrina has been eating train food for a long time and was not getting sick - so I decided to give it a try. I had a masala dosa on the train - which is like a pancake with veg curry inside. It doesn't sound so hot, but it is quite tasty!

I said goodbye to Sabrina in Mysore as she was headed to visit a Buddhist university campus a couple hours by bus outside the city. Tom and his driver/friend Ravi came and picked me up and took me back to his hotel so I could grab a shower and wash/change clothes. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to wash up after traveling for 12+hrs. Tom took me for lunch to an Indian family's house. They provide meals to some of the yogis. I had just been thinking I wanted some dal and rice that morning - sure enough I was served 2 kinds of dal, 3 kinds of rice and some yummy fresh soy beans. This was for sure my best meal in India so far.

Tom and then went to Mysore's famous market. They had an amazing selection of fruit, vegetables, herbs/spices and flowers. I loved the smell of the flowers and the herbs/spice.

After that I went back to Tom's hotel room and we chilled out for an hour while I repacked my bag and headed to the train station. After my slow morning train I was a bit paranoid about missing my connection in Bangalore so I left Mysore at 5pm. Ravi demonstrated how to get a train ticket quickly by just pushing to the front of the line regardless of everyone who had arrived there have done this to me several times and I have just been left speechless!

BTW - thanks for everything Tom!

I got to Bangalore after only 3:15hrs this time and had a yummy meal of chicken curry at the station. They also had the first honest to goodness high speed internet connect and it was the cheapest one as well at Rs.30/hr.

My train was quite full, but I got to my upper bunk and was asleep quite quickly. There was a baby in my area, but thankfully he slept the night through.

The Chennai station was quite large and it took my quite a while to figure out where I wanted to go. I tried to get a retiring room at the station, but they were all full up. That sucked because my next train left at 9am the next morning. They did, however, have a dormitory that had spots free so I grabbed a bed there. Not very private, but my bed has a small space underneath that you can lock up luggage. Luckily my backpack is not very big and it just fit.

I had a refreshing shower and washed some am becoming the king of the shower laundry. I had just laid down when my tummy started feeling nasty - not from any food, but from my anti-malaria pill. I tried to fight it for 15mins, but eventually I knew the cause was lost and I went and threw up. I felt great after that and made a mental note to ensure I eat when I take one of those pills. I had a nice 7hr sleep complete with some crazy, but fun dreams.

I got up and went in search of internet and food. I found another high speed cyber cafe - the same company I think. It is so nice to hit a button and not have to wait 10 secs for something to happen. I answered my emails and wrote part of this blog before going out for some food.

There was a restaurant in the station that looked worth a try. I had another dosa - yummy, but I was still hungry. For about 2.5 weeks after my I got sick in Anjuna I wasn't very hungry, but that is past! I tried to order some rice and dal, but even though they had both they couldn't sell it to me like that. So I asked them to bring me a mixed plate of food that contained rice and dal, but I asked them to hold everything, but the rice and dal. They couldn't do that either even though I would pay for the whole thing - too expensive they said. Finally they were able to sell me some rice pre-mixed with dal and home made potato was just glad to have it.

Now I am back at the cyber cafe finishing my blog and surfing the net.

I have an overnight train to catch tomorrow and then a shorter local train to catch on Saturday and I should be in Puri around noon!

While I was eating I watched an older woman follow around the porters who were carrying large bags of rice. She would sweep up any rice that spilt out of the bags and collect it. She had a fair bit of rice already and didn't look like she was going to stop any time soon.

Earlier I saw a man and a woman whose job it was to walk down the tracks and the station and collect any poo that was on the tracks. People are not supposed to use the bathrooms on the trains while in the station, but of course they do.

You know what's dumb? The spell checker at does not recognize the word "blog"

I am getting quite good at using the squat toilets here. I have to say I don't mind them while traveling as I would not want to spend any extra time in a bathroom here than I had to. However, at home I get a lot of good reading done on the throne - particularly magazines. You are definitely not going to squat and read the latest issue of Bike.


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