22 November, 2010

Riding the Train

Unfortunately, we couldn't get first class tickets to Varanassi on the train. What a treat!!! I was quite amused, because Jette and Kjeld wanted to have "real" experiences. And they sure did this time!!!

I had forgotten that second class is really the ancient third class, so everyone, and I mean everyone, was in our car. We had booked berths, thank God, because at least we could sleep without someone sleeping in OUR beds. Did I say sleep?  I think I managed a total of three hours out of fourteen.

First everyone talks at the top of their lungs and play games until at least 11:00pm. I finally switched off the light in our little part of the coach, and I thought that would end the games. But, the players moved about three feet and kept right on playing.

At midnight or 1:00am, the Indians crawled into their berths with about two or three others already sleeping. I know I am a bit chubby, but there is no way two westerners could sleep on one berth. But Indians slept two to a berth with children tucked in wherever there was a tiny space.

Then some guy threw his bed roll between Jette and me and crawled in. So we couldn't get out of our berths without stepping on his face. And  why is that a problem??? Middle of the night bathroom breaks.

Okay, the bathroom. The women's toilet was a disgrace. Someone pooped on the floor and not just diarrhea.  So I went to the men's and it was clean, though you had to squat.  I am not the greatest squatter, and certainly not when the train is lurching, speeding up, putting on the brakes----well, you get my drift.

Then everyone is in their beds, the lights are out and the snoring begins. Two guys in the berth above me had a regular concert, taking turns delivering up an opera of amazing variations. Then just as I am about to fall into a coma, a train with a lamenting wail goes by and continues the sound for the next ten minutes.Was there a funeral somewhere?

Going by a railray station, a woman's voice shouted out the name of trains and their numbers. At first I thought there was some kind of lottery going on and she was screeching the winning tickets, but alas it never ended.

Most trains in Europe have this wonderful consistent sound going back and forth over the tracks---clippety clop, clippety clop---not here.  The train swayed and our belly fat was like jelly, flying back and forth across our body. The ultimate insult: we couldn't properly close our windows, so the wind raced in and it was cold. I covered my head with my shawl and hoped to keep warm. Well, we know what we will need to buy if we don't get an upgrade going back to Delhi.

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