Our first train ride. What an experience. Catching a tain in a major city at 9am may not have been the best plan in hindsight. What a wonderful thing hindsight is. We got our tickets for 2nd tier ie. Cattle Class. The standard carriage with half as many people again as seats. We struggled in the doorway through the press of people with a big backpacks. I don’t push people so it made for hard going. Still we were onboard and that was the main thing. Or was it…?
The realisation of a 5 hour horror train trip, standing squashed in the isle, rubbing shoulders (and more) next to my backpack, while people clamber across to navigate the carriage, dawns. Mild panic set in. I needed to get my bag into the already full overhead racks without crushing the people sitting on the packed seats or I was doomed to an unbearable journey.
With some help from friendly locals I managed to get a seat within half an hour. I think they take pity on the stupid foreigners and do what they can to make the ride painless for us. Seats are shared with four to a 3 person seat bing common so it was so nice of them to make room for me. Enterprising young lads clambered into the overhead baggage racks for a snooze while food wallas navigate the isles selling wada, frooty drinks, and anything else people may require for the lengthy journey. Now that is civilised! It turned out to be a painfull experience, yet character building. Part of the learning process indeed…
We made it to Ernakulam unscathed and revelled in the fixed (cheap) price of the autorickshaw (the standard 3 wheeled conveyance) to the ferry terminal. A pity there was a ferry strike! Ha. No worries we negotiated a 10 Rs fare across to Kochi. It was painfull waiting on the ferry next to a group of obnoxious foreign tourists complete with unbuttoned shirts for the guys, and singlets for the girls (remember this is a modest country), calling out “Hey” to the conductor and generally giving tourists the stigma that we don’t need. Great to see while I was chatting to three locals they were getting charged 35 Rs for the trip. Asshole tax. Ha de Ha Ha.