Find out what I'm doing. Follow Me! :)

Friday, March 23, 2007

On the train to Hyderabad

Day 1. Happy now?

The stupid train had to leave before sun-up (or so it seemed to me, never having been awake before 7 in weeks, no, make that months). I sleepwalked to the station, and nearly had a close encounter of the third kind with a post, which woke me up sufficiently to argue with my dad about my sleep status.

Everyone had brought stuff to eat, and we commenced attack soon after take-off. I mean, soon after the train hooted merrily (aided by us) and left the station, right on time (some fluke, no doubt). The attack was fierce and lasted all of 5 minutes, and amidst occasional flashes and whirrs, no one managed to get in more than a few mouthfuls.

Stopping at stations meant that the parents of hostellers would show up with more food, and the next few minutes would be spent in total silence, occasionally interrupted by ‘ketchuppille?’ [no ketchup?] and ‘thanikkentha ketchuppillenkil irangille?’ [why, does your food stick going down if there's no ketchup?].

You couldn’t walk around the train without tripping over some classmate who was either
a) sleeping, or
b) kathifying [literally, knifing], or
c) playing cards, or
d) enjoying the view, or
e) listening to music, or
f) eating, or
g) performing some miscellaneous activity (meaning I can’t think of anything more).

The more gullible among us fell prey to palm readers and peddlers. The palm reader revealed that she hadd had a difficult life and would soon be taking a trip over water, while the rest of us entertained ourselves with etch-a-sketches and snakes and ladders.

The train entered Tamil Nadu by evening, and the view from the windows grew more depressing. The houses (huts, really) were placed so close together that would drive any claustrophobic into a panic attack.

At night, our noses were assaulted by the overwhelming odour of Eucalyptus. Looking around for the source (an escaped koala bear), we could only see a guy selling roses. Completely baffled, we assumed someone had a cold, when the rose guy came closer, and the smell grew stronger. He’d dipped the roses in Eucalyptus oil! Someone made the brilliant observation that he didn’t know roses could smell this bad.

The next insult to our olfactory epithelium was the smell of fermented carbohydrates. My friend sniffed the guys nearest to us, (unjustly) assuming them to have broken rules. It was actually a lady selling sapota (chikku). She got thrown out by a violent Naxalite aort of guy a few minutes later.

Some harebrained idiot (who I shall debrain as soon as I find out his identity) said there was some rule that the lights had to be switched off by 10. We ran around like headless chickens trying to get berths next to friends. Having accomplished this major task, the lights were switched off and we began. ‘I’m not the least bit sleepy, are you?’ ‘Of course not.’ We continued until someone from the lower berth threatened to throw a shoe at me. Spoilsport.

It got really cold at night, and when I woke up the next day, the bed sheet I’d been using as a pillow was wound around my feet. I have no memory of doing that. Everyone else was up before 7 (how on earth do they do that?) and they wouldn’t let me sleep any more. I languished in bed berth until I gained sufficient orientation in space and time to remember where I had put my toothbrush, and then hopped down.

We’d crossed over to Andhra Pradesh in the middle of the night, and the stops at the various stations were marked with announcements in a language that seemed to end every word in ‘lu’.

We saw lots of cotton fields. Those people should be worried about the boll weevil.

Chilli was also very common. If only our Geography classes at school had been conducted as an all India tour...

Just before we entered Hyderabad, we got a magnificent glimpse of the Hussain-Sagar lake, the largest man-made lake in… Somewhere. We tumbled out of the train at Hyderabad Central, and were whisked away to our hotel in a wannabe tourist bus. And you know what happened next.

No comments: