Snakes on a Train

We started our adventures with trains a while back in China and have had many experiences with them since then. We’ve taken trains across China, Vietnam and Thailand, some of which were lacking in the cleanliness department. When I heard we would be taking a train in India from Jodhpur to Mumbai I expected the worst. So far everything else in the country was as dirty as I had ever seen, so I expected the train to be no different. When we arrived at the station I had no change of heart; it was just as dirty as the rest. At the station my dad went in line to get tickets and my mom, the little kids, and I stayed by the bags. A group of at least fifty men and beggar children swarmed us like a swarm of locusts. They started grabbing us and our bags. I was about to start swinging fists when my dad finally arrived back on the scene and we managed to get our bags on our backs and everyone out of the horde. We walked a short distance to the train and I held my breath as we went inside. I must say I was very surprised. This train may very well have been the cleanest train we have ridden so far. We encountered a few problems with our seating arrangements though. The majority of our seats were in separate cabins so we had to find people willing to switch places with us. It wasn’t all that hard and we soon had all of our seats in one cabin. Now it was time to sit back and relax. We opened up some sodas, got out the Italian playing cards and played a couple games of Briscola (like hearts but instead of losing points you attempt to gain them). We played late into the night, 10:30, well late by Indian standards… At about 9 the entire train went to sleep. We stayed up a little later reading but were tired enough from our day of driving and running that we soon fell asleep. It was a good refreshing sleep, but as one learns about India, there is no predictability. So at 3:30 in the morning we were awakened by the sound of men yelling. We peered out of our berths and saw two groups of men yelling at each other. This continued for another hour and a half until one of the men was dragged away yelling, “Police Station! Police Station!” It wasn’t until the next morning we found out what all the yelling was about. Another passenger told us one of the men had gotten up to use the toilet. When he returned he thought a man was sleeping in his bed so he shook him and woke him up. The other man, whose seat it actually was, started yelling at his waker. This went on for an hour and a half. Only in India! Later that morning while still on the train we found out about the bombs that had exploded on the “Peace Train” from Delhi to Pakistan while we slept. This distressed us a little but soon our train experience was over. We pulled into Mumbai a little tired from our interrupted sleep but alive. Given a choice we will always pick snakes (i.e., ill-tempered men) on trains over bombs.

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