The day passed quickly. I was observing people and activities in the train compartments (dibbas). I moved around to feel the atmosphere. While doing so I was always thinking about my backpack that was on my seat. The luggage could be picked up anytime by anyone, I kept telling myself or so I was told about train journey in India by several people. That was the one problem of traveling alone in India, I concluded. You can’t roam around freely without worrying about the safety of your luggage.
I ordered food and that came at around 9 PM. I didn’t know how the seating arrangement worked during night when people needed to sleep. I kept wondering how that seat, the one in the middle of the three-layered berth, could be unfolded to turn that into bed. The moment of revelation came when a person unfolded it to make room to sleep. The three-layered ‘bed’ structure of the seats reminded me of the double bed of the hostel where I spent two years during my pre-primary days.
I didn’t have a blanket or the bed sheet so I just lied on the seat. It was so strange to sleep like that. The backpack was on the floor attached to the side of my seat where my head rested. I think I fell asleep soon….
…only to realize that I was shivering in the middle of the night because of the cold air that was coming in from the windows from the other side of the compartment. I took out the sweater from my bag and used that to cover my head and chest. I knew it wasn’t working but there was no other option. The other clothes I had carried were t-shirts and kurtas only. Somehow the ordeal was done with as the dawn broke and the sunlight started coming through the windows. It was another day in the train.
Next: Trivendram, the town of Dhoti
Gorakhpur Rail Station
The north Indian town of Gorakhpur is not new to many Nepalis who go to many places of India via Sunauli border point. There is even a popular song that mentions Gorakhpur and the lyric goes something like this: “Aama rundai gaun beshi melai ma, chhora rundai Gorakhpur railai ma” [While mother is crying in the fields of village, her son is weeping in a rail in Gorakhpur.] The song must be talking about the plight of poor Nepali migrant workers who go to Indian cities looking for jobs. Thousands of Nepalis do a very difficult journey to find even more difficult jobs that pay little but demand a lot of labor. I had an encounter with a group of such Nepalis in Dailekh-Achham districts last February that was returning home carrying goods like a radio cassette player and cheap clothes. Here is the story that I wrote after following a boy to his home. Continue reading
It should have come up here yesterday but I was too occupied by other activities. I came back to Kathmandu yesterday afternoon. I went to office directly and assumed responsibilities (of talking about the trip with colleagues!). Then to home in the evening. Nothing more for now. I have to finish a story for Koseli today as it goes to press this evening. Then I plan to post more journals from the trip along with the photos.
I arrived in Bombay yesterday morning…got off at Mumbai CST (railway terminal) at around 6 am. I saw a news kiosk that and bought almost all English language newspapers (and a Marathi one: Apala Mahanagar). I quickly found a guest house that was cheap. I threw my backpack, tried to sleep for an hour or so, took shower and got out on the streets of Bombay that were slowly becoming crowded. In the beginning, as I headed unknowingly towards Bombay Stock Exchange tower, I was kind of intimidated by the cityscape. It felt grand. The old colonial styled buildings were impressive I remembered walking on the streets of New York. The streets are wide and clean: I had expected the opposite. I walked around for about two hours…but the place started getting hotter. Soon I found myself inside a travel agency office that offered the tour of the city for Indian Rs 120. In half an hour I was in Gateway of India. By the time the tour ended at 8 PM, I had reached to some of the famous places of the city including Marine Drive to Juhu Beach. Other passengers curiously got up from their seats and ran toward the windows when the guide, pointing a house, said: Amitabh Bachhan. But I was interested in the beach and the towers, not where the actor lived. [More about Bombay in one of the next posts.) Continue reading
DW in a train to Kanyakumari from Trivendram
Kids in a train to Kanyakumari from Trivendram. They were opposite to DW’s berth.
Hills seen from a moving train (to Kanyakumari from Trivendram)
Samosa, slightly smaller, served on an Op-Ed page of The Hindu in a train to Kanyakumari from Trivendram
DW enjoys a cup of tea in Kanyakumari
Curious girls waiting to see sunrise in Kanyakumari
Waiting for Sunrise in Kanyakumari
Sunrise in Kanyakumari
kids waiting to see the sun rise in kanyakumari
The first rays of sun hit DW on a beach in Kanyakumari
A lady uses binoculars to watch the sunrise in Kanyakumari
Photographing the sunrise in Kanyakumari
People play on a crowded beach of Kanyakumari
A mother and her son pose to camera so as to bring the rising sun on their palms in the photo
a kid in kanyakumari beach
a kid in kanyakumari beach tries to fix a towel on his waist
a family in kanyakumari beach
Women standing on a rock in Kanyakumari beach
Women watching sea waves in Kanyakumari
Boys on the beach
A man prepares a sea shell to sell
The customer wanted something to be wrtten on the shell
He is writing what his customer wanted him to write on the shell
The shell is now ready to be sold
Once something is written on the shell, it needs to be dipped in water again.
meal served on banana leaf in a kanyakumari hotel
dw eating on banana leaf in kanyakumari
dw lunching on banana leaf in kanyakumari
passengers in a train to madhurai from kanyakumari
DW and legs of passengers sitting on the upper berth of a train to madhurai from kanyakumari
dangling legs of passengers in a train to madhurai from kanyakumari
Wdw standing in a line in Madhurai train station to buy a ticket to Rameswaram
DW struggles to take a nap on the street just outside a hotel in Rameswaram
DW takes a nap on the doorstep of a hotel in Rameswaram
the auto driver of rameswaram who ripped off dw by charging Rs 100 for two kilometers ride
view of a tv tower and rameswaram temple
a kid swimming on a beach near rameswaram temple
Kids emerge from the sea at a beach near Rameswaram beach
dirty beach near rameswaram temple
a train passes from over a sea bridge leaving rameswaram behind
a train passes from over a bridge leaving rameswaram behind
DW inside a train on way to Madhurai from Rameswaram
a train and a bridge over sea near rameswaram
DW eating laddu that his co-passengers offered to him
passengers in a train
DW wearing dhoti in front of madhirai meenaxi tempmle
DW wearing part of a dhoti in front of Madhurai, Meenaxi Temple. Part of a dhoti? A separate story altogether.
Dhoti wearing DW and a policeman who was on duty at the Meenaxi temple, Madhurai
DW tries to pose for the camera as per the instruction of the policeman at duty at Meenaxi temple who offered to take a photo
dw wearing dhoti in meenaxi temple
Photographer policeman: He offered to take DW’s photo from DW’s camera.
DW readies to get some sleep on the upper berth of an AC sleeper bus. The bus journey begain from Salem at around 11:10 PM and ended at around 6:30 in Bangalore.
DW on the upper berth of an AC sleeper bus from Salem to Bangalore
participants of a handwriting workshop in bangalore learn the art of clapping
participants of a handwriting workshop in bangalore
DW in a handwriting workshop in bangalore
“Toh Rupa kya pehnegi?” I asked. Read about the incident in the blog text.
Food was served on banana leaf and a plate in a restaurant in Bangalore
DW eats food served on banana leaf and plate in a restaurant in Bangalore while his left hand clicks the photo. Now, look at the face of the man on the other side of the table!
DW on a Motorcycle Taxi in Goa. From Madgaon railway station to Kolva beach hotel
DW goes to Kolva beach from Margo railway station in Goa on what is called “Motorcycle Taxi”
birds at kolva beach goa
Holding a copy of Palpasa Cafe, DW poses for camera at Kolva Beach, Goa.
DW was able to gift the book to a girl in a cafe nearby Kolva beach fulfilling his promise to writer Narayan Wagle.
I refused to get my hands painted by her in Kolva beach, Goa. She refused to be photographed.
It’s been a couple of days since I posted my last entry about my visit to India.
Meanwhile I went to several places in south India.
1. Kanyakumari: Saw the sunrise which is more or less similar to the one that I had seen from Nagarkot a few months ago. Ate food on banaba leaf.
2. Rameswaram: Slept outside a hotel gate.
3. Madhurai: Went to Meenaxi temple wearing dhoti.
4. Bangalore: Gatecrashed a handwriting workshop.
The other experience: Bus journey (sleeper coaches), shivered all night on AC.
Here is the detail: I went to Rameswaram (from Kanyakumari via Madhurai) on Thursday I think (I will confirm the days when I get time as I am not keeping tack of days really). I stayed there for a night and half a day. I reached Rameswaram at around 4 in the morning. The autowalla who took me near the temple from the Railway station helped me to look for room in hotels but no success. All hotels, at least those around the temple, were occupied. Or perhaps that was a bad timing, people were sleeping on the reception desks and floors. When woken up by us they would simply give us a reply: no, nahi, room nahi.
It’s still dark and I was already there… very tired because of whole night of train journey. I had started from Kanyakumari at 5:50 PM, reached Madhurai at around 10 PM, stood in a long line for the ticket there and left Madhurai at around 11:30 PM. There were very interesting young folks in the compartment and we talked a lot (as and when the horn of the train permitted us to talk) and I felt that the distance was covered very quickly. Continue reading