The train experience

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February 11th 2008
Published: February 11th 2008
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So it was time to leave Goa... And it was a busy day trying to pack and clean the house. And then saying goodbye to the Indian family who rented us their house. And goodbye to our neighbours, and hopefully see you again soon. We then took a cab to the train station. I was thinking how funny it is that the 30 minute cab ride was more expensive than the 10 hour train ride...
So we arrived at the train station and I was still on the wait list. No seat. But India being India, I could still get on the train and hope to find a helpful controler who would help me find an empty seat... But again, no luck, so I just sat down on a big plastic container next to the door and a huge pile of boxes of bottled water and thought I could probably manage to get some sleep there. People looked at me, but just in a curious way, or maybe they felt sorry for me... After a while I realized it would be probably too busy to sleep there, being so close to the kitchen so I walked down the train, until I found a pretty empty coach. It was going to be full later but I sat down there for a while. But a whole bunch of school kids were also in the same coach singing happily, so after a while I decided to move back to the front and go to the unreserved coach were I was allowed to sit for the night.
On the way though I found a bigger area close to another door, where the TTE (the guy who checks the tickets) would normally sit. I put my pack on the floor and sat on it, smiling about this new adventure! Some Indians asked me where I was going and shook their heads thinking it would be a long night for me... But then one guy told me to sit right on the TTE's seat, for free!
So I did, and it was great, I thought I was quite lucky after all. I soon found myself with new friends sitting on the floor next to me, and they offered me some of their food but I had already eaten. All very smily faces and I was happy too, looking at the moon thinking about all the fun adventures I had so far and the ones to come. I finally curled up and tried to get some sleep, and after about an hour, a guy knocked on the wall next to my head... "Madam, madam, there is an empty seat...". "REally?" So I followed the guy, and he showed me a seat, a real one where I could sleep on. I realized that the guy was actually giving up his seat for me, and I felt sorry about it, but he insisted, saying it was an empty seat. He asked if he could sleep under the seat, but finally another friend of his shared his bunk, and we all went to bed. My neighbour, another nice young Indian said "You must be very happy" with his great Indian-English. Yes, yes! I am very happy!
ANd I slept a bit, trying to stretch my legs on the short bed, and the morning came and many people asked me where I was going to make sure I wasn't going to miss my station!
Just before we arrived, I walked down the train to the front to meet Iain (he had booked his ticket a long time ago and had a real seat assigned ), told him about my lucky night (he had been coaching me on how to try to get a seat...), and we finally got out in quiet sleepy Mumbai. It was 6 am and still dark, cold for India, and we had chai and breakfast when we found an open restaurant. Delicious Banana Uttapam. It is fun to be back in Mumbai, the city where I landed 6 weeks ago. I am leaving this afternoon for Rajasthan, but this time, I know I have a seat on the train... Another long ride on the train, I should get to Jodhpur early tomorrow morning and will be looking for a place to have a shower...


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