Monday, May 22, 2006

Love thy train

I love the train but who would have guessed it loved me more?

Well when we arrived in Chennai, we were told our train that evening had been a waiting list one that just got confirmed so I'd have to check the numbers there though we did call some hotline to find out and was given a coach number.

IMG_2477mysexp We arrived at our designated coach to find a list and found 2 names. My mom's name was missing from the coach, so there began my hunt to find mum. After frantically searching 3 nearby coaches, I headed to the waiting list area and finding non of their machines working I had no choice but to stand in the long queue (some 20 mins before the train was to leave) and found out mom had been placed elsewhere. Given mom has never travelled without dad, I decided to head to the lone coach that is after checking it out and assuring to mom everyone in the coach looked human ;p I was very sure no aliens were masquerading as humans.

We were told there was gonna be a short delay, so we decided we'll have our food first. Since TRO (train officer) had said short delay, I quickly went back to my coach. I've realised one thing its the TN TROs who are the sneaky bunch who thrive in seeing you being uncomfortable, more later on the nice ones.

Another 30 mins later, I asked TRO how long was the delay, he said in a while. When I asked him if I could go to another coach and come, he tells me if the train moves its not my fault you know. Well 3 hours later the train still hadn't moved and he was still singing the song of its moving soon. Having travelled with a huge bunch of people, I had never met any friends on the train, this time I did.

Mom had a lower side berth wherelse there was an aunty at the upper berth. So I told her, its ok I'll climb up. She was quite interesting. She was working in Mysore, son was studying in Chennai, husband was working in Trivandrum (thats their base) and the daughter was in Banglore. So train travel was a normal ritual.

Our compartment was filled with this Muslim family with 2 cute children. Now the gals would occasionally smile at me but were too shy to talk, but the man of the family never once smiled. Kid finally warmed up to me and was telling me about her adventure in as much English as she could muster. One point she even asked if I knew Urdu, sadly I didn't. She was travelling with her bro, parents and cousins from one cousins place to another for the summer holidays.

The train finally left Central Station 7 hours later at 4 am, slowly but surely yet we still didn't know why the delay. Throughout the night the train would stop for half an hour and I'd jolt up every time. When we were stranded in Chennai Central only one thought occurred to me. All this visiting you've done to Thennavan's blog, that's why Central Station refused to part with you. I was up by 6 am the next morning. I came out after refreshing to find everyone glued at the windows. Out there was the answer to our delay. An empty fuel cargo train had derailed and was lying aside the tracks that had been repaired during our stay at Central. Aunty tells me, all trains via katpadi had been canceled for the whole of May 1st. Talk about labour day celebration, I was only wondering how people back for the holidays would get back to work.

The officers outside kept screaming keep your hands in and we weren't sure why. That's when one of the fuel tankers passed by cms away from our window. Sorry wasn't being a good blogger with photos, I was busy gawking at the train and thanking god the tankers were empty. I seriously must command them for the fast job of clearing the tracks, over here we probably would have been sent home.

I decided to get back to moms compartment as she probably was grumbling about the delay. They had been grumbling till the saw the derailed train. Mom had mad friends with an uncle and another young gal studying her bSc in nursing. Sweet looking gal. I decided to remain there for the rest of the journey, as 7.30am neared (our arrival time in Mysore), we all knew one whole day was gonna go down the drain.

We did have a blast though. Switching from politics, to business, to social norms, to business tactics, and visa forgery and agents that give a bad name to foreign employment. But as the day trickled one thing was sure, we were being put on a diet as every stop we passed had no food for us but only drinks. It seems previous trains had finished whatever they had prepared. Every other stop I'd get down and look for food, and found nothing as everyone was in a mad dash to get food, we were all famished.

Luckily having had past experience in delays, I had packed a bar of chocolate. So that became our saviour, we would ration the pieces so that it would last us the trip. Uncle at first declined the chocolate but finally hunger took over and he agreed it made a huge difference.

The one pineapple juice we had later around 9 am seemed like heaven, what with hunger and heat playing its game on us.

We were entertained by this boy and his monkey, cute little fury thing.

IMG_2483mysexpUncle was different from a lot of Indian men, didn't have notions that women should be locked in cages and never let out. It seems he was telling mom, be very careful who you marry your daughter off to, take your time and if she says no don't force her. He had a sad story to share. His niece had been in love with someone against her parents wishes and they married her off to a relative who later turned out to be a family of scoundrels. One day she called him and said she had enough and the next day he got the news of her suicide.

IMG_2489mysexpHe told us juicy stories too. There's a ghost house next to his home and occasionally a women goes around the neighbourhood knocking doors. It seems this gal had hanged there coz of love objections at home and she continues to haunt.

Coz of its low value occasionally, forgotten movie stars would come an inquire about renting the house. Stars with sob stories of their diminished fame.

There was a good thing about the delayed train, we got to see the beauty of Karnataka in daylight and I got to take photos ;p Otherwise you wouldn't have got this shot nor would we have been visited by monkey and his boy I mean boy and his monkey ;p

Anyway we reached Bangalore junction thinking there would be food - I got down and walked the entire platform and the train started moving. By the time I got back after walking through the coaches my mom thought I had been left behind ;p hehehe she freaked out. I was just bored, no one seemed to understand that tsh tsh.

IMG_2498mysexpAt Bangalore station, we spotted a guy selling food from afar and got ready to brace the crowds to get food. Success!!! Managed to secure packets of pulisadham (tamarind rice) and then went looking for what mom and I were dying for (iced cold drinks).

Well we can't say much about the food. Description would be plain rice given a dash of yellow shade and salt to taste but believe me we didn't care. Having had nothing but bits of chocolate the whole time, that "rice" tasted like heaven!

People who got down at Banglore Station were heard exclaiming - "ithe tangaleh, Mysore passengers paadhu ehpadi iruhkum?" - well that was us but having had some food and glorious iced cold drink - we felt great and the scenery of the next stretch was just awesome.

This rock is called the sleeping elephant - it does look that way.

Some palace like building on a rocky hill. Looked gorgeous despite the cloudless day.

We finally reached Mysore at 6pm.

What a train ride!

ps : photos will be added slowly


Jeevan said...

Good time that u haven’t buy any Biscuits form your co-travelers, or else you have been standing in unknown station. Nice post, Monkey super.:)

BawangMerah said...

If I was at the place the first picture was taken, I would have sat there until the stars came out. It's such a beautiful shot.

thennavan said...

That part about ChennaiCentral was hilarious :-).

Gladtomeetin said...

Hey Nice photo...even i love train journeys and like to see through as given in your second photo...

Missing Home :-((

WA said...

OMG I've just realised that I won't be able to board a train at Central now without remembering Thennavan's blog :)

Aravind said...

kalakkal snaps :)

Me said...

that uncle would have thot u r a chocolate bandit....:p

Balajoe said...

The first photo is absolutely superb! Nice contrast of colors

tulipspeaks said...

First pic nalla iruke la.. nice one!

waiting for other pics to be added

btwn, got my mail? :P


Nirek said...

Hi visi,
that narration abt ur indian train travel was good. you made it sound so sweet. usually i dont like train travel but i think of using train regularly after reading urs.

Arz000n said...

You in chennai!!
Awesome :)

Welcome to India :)

Usha said...

Hey you are a good sport - I did not see any complaints in the post in spite of being put through so much inconvenience.You surely know how to make an adventure of an inconvenience. attagirl, way to go!
waiting for the sequel!

Priyamvada_K said...

Took me back to some past train journeys, with the conversations and all. Interesting haunted house story - and I can imagine how the food and cold drink must've been heavenly.


My days(Gops) said...

aiyo aiyo...
i think, u started at wrong time from ur house..he he he
enga ponalum ungaluku against thaaan nadakudhu (nadandhuchi)....

btw, moving train'la nice photo's

Syam said...

Nice happens to every one if you are in a real hurry...glad that you could able to make it...

ashok said...

wonderfull pic...good work Visit

Keshi said...

that first pic is simply beautiful!

lol @train!


visithra said...

Jeevan : lol that explains why uncle was so hesistant to take our choc though we were eating it ;p

yeah monkey was super

Bawangred : oh yeah me too how i wish i was - more to come ;) there are more i didnt take coz i was busy enjoying its beauty as we qhizzed by ;)

Thennavan : hehehe glad u like it - i seriously remembered ur blog then ;p

glad : me too - my mom n her friend didnt too much - but after the second one mom was liking it ;) u like to sit at the steps? Awww i havent tried that - but like standing there ;)

awww i promise no food photos ;)

Uma : hehehe believe me u wont n ull probably have a weird grin too - i did ;p

Aravind : thanks ;)

me : oh u should have seen him enjoying the choc - he was so hungry famished - n was so grateful - he thanked us a few times - n has decided he will always travel with choc from now on ;p

balajoe : thanks - my fav photo too ;)

Amu : slowly uploading them n picking which ones get uploaded ;)

yep try the link n then mail me back ;)

satu : thanks - train travel is nice but not so much in the day - but for the view definetly worth it

arz : was in chennai - now back in msia ;) reaccounting my trip ;)

Usha : well im kinda an optimist - id grumble a while but ill see the silver lining on it - i wouldnt have got the first photo if train had reached on time ;) cant say the same about my moms friend though - will explain later

a lot more to come ;)

Priyamvada : trains are fun i tell ya ;) - glad u had a memory rush ;)

i cant explain how tasteless food tasted like heaven ;) but u understand ;)

Mydays : lol from the hotel u mean? Im not so superstisious - i think it was to see chamundi on oorvalam that night or id have gone in the morning n watched the lights of the palace at night -read next post ;) n thanks ;)

Syam : welcome here ;)

thanks - yeah times like that ;) avasaram than probs vahrum ;)

Ashok : thanks - more to come ;)

keshi : me thinks the same too ;p - hehe

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Fantastic Writeup.

Stranded in Chennai ..Hmm..!

Its been a while for me.!! Longing for a train travel in chennai.! Nice photos.!

Poor Mom.!!

Baranee said...

Picture is simply gorgeous.

visithra said...

venkittu sir : thanks ;)

trains are fun in chennai - mom just needed to get used to it ;)

baranee : thanks ;)

Sundar Narayanan said...

first photo. .. engeyoooo poiteenga. really nice..

2nd photo got back so many memories. . used to travel from madras to banaras for almost 2 days..(home to univ.).. used to sit at the door (of the pantry car) .. hmm.. that prompts a nostalgic post..


visithra said...

sundar : thanks but have to thank mother nature

read about the trip - nice memories illeh

Anonymous said...

Your blog is certainly not curing my insomnia. I am wide awake
looking at the images and reading your entries. I have to post
my comments on your kolams here since the other place
wouldn't accept my post.
Your kolams are lovely.
They remind me of margzhali months in India
and the kolams the women create in front of their homes
so effortlessly and seemingly precise. First the ground is
swept with a broom and then sprinkled with water. The
masterpiece is then laid on the ground as if the hands are guided by
an invisible force. (rice flour is the medium, no?)
My memories of those days were rekindled seeing
your kolams. Wonderful, wonderful.
I miss train travel in India. The sound of the tracks,
the various vendors at the stations and the occasional
stops in the middle of nowhere are so unique to India.
If you like train travel, you might
want to read Paul Theroux's 'The Great Railway Bazaar'.
He has also written about train travel in China and S.America.
I am rambling.
Thanks again for your blog.

visithra said...

Anonaravind : on one point thats sad the blog didn't cure you're insomnia on the other theres the ego going yayyyyyy i dont put ppl to sleep ;p

thanks ;) ooh i know the margzhali kolams ;) actually most of the kolams at the other blog were done in marghali - glad it brought back memories

yeah the track sounds are soothing - thanks for the book suggestion - will read it one of these days - glad u enjoyed the blog ;)