They have adequate time to reserve for specific seats (heck, it’s their country), yet they impose their presence on seats reserved by others, regardless of the fact that a foreigner has taken pains to reserve it from a gargantuan queue. I have been asked several times in the past to take the upper berth instead and when I balk, everyone in the cabin gets sore with me because I don’t give in. I just don’t understand this culture. There are several universal practices involved here, not the least of which is the concept of "reservation", and it needs to be respected. So you have children with you? Didn't you think of that when you reserved? How is it that a weary itinerant who painstakingly booked and queued for his tickets (yes - booking train tickets is not easy or pleasant, and it's one of my least favorite activities during an Indian sojourn) should give way to any soul who feels they should be prioritized? How convenient. Now you want my seat? You want me monkeying on berths right up the ceiling alongside rusty, Tetanus-inviting electric fans and cobwebs? Oh boy!
In my bunk was a charming gentleman named Himanchu of Mumbai. He's a "spice merchant", now isn't this occupation something that we only read in historical documentations and adventure books? Not in India, where they come alive. During my waking hours, we would compare traditions. India and the Philippines are polar opposites where tradition is concerned. Things are done differently between two nations. And I was just fascinated with his thoughts about marriage (something that always gets talked about whenever I am in India), politics and Bollywood stars. Once we've exhausted topics, we would alternately take naps or walks across the train.
This was one of the reasons why I dislike trains. At least buses, though slow and tedious to the spinal column, have huge windows. Trains feel like glorified barricades. It didn't help that the weather wasn't cooperating. In fact, it had been raining since dawn. Outside, it looked like the heavens have spewed all her wrath. Paddies were flooded. What could have been rice granary has virtually turned into lakes. Chennai looked heavily vegetated, though this time, everything was submerged in rain water, especially the Ennore area. A few minutes after 8, there were signs of industrialization. Ugly railway tracks started to jot out everywhere. I was stoked. I was near Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu.
|Charminar Express (above and below)|
|View from a 57 km/hour moving train, through a fuzzy glass window.|
|Eye-catching color of Chennai Central|
|Hotel Anitha Towers|
|Downpour creates a dramatic canvass across Triplicane.|