Cochin, India 6/3/08
I am on my way to Cochin. (The old Jewish town).
I arrived in Pondicerry and with the help of a nice driver I managed to conduct the difficult task of buying a train ticket. To buy a ticket one should order days in advance, also to fill a full form of personal details: Name, age, address etc. Other wise one is traveling in the compartment that is open to all the crowed.
I took the first train to Villupuram. It was 8 rupees only for 1 hour trip. People were asleep on the benches, loud voices and shouting were every were. Suddenly a really scruffy woman came, a beggar, looked at me and she could not leave the sight of me. Every minute she moved to a different seat until eventually she sat opposite me, moving away the woman that was sitting opposite me. She was with no shoes and some teeth messing, but she was looking at me with a big smile. I was looking at the other end, trying to void an eye contact but she continued to stair at me. Every time we had an eye contact, she smiled pleasantly at me like she is the happiest person in the world. Happily I left the train on my station.
I was with 3 heavy bags, there was no way I will go with them to the box office to buy a ticket to my next destination. As I am a stranger, people start immediately to talk to me. They are looking for any excuse to start a conversation. So I am using it too, to find out were I should go for my next train.
A nice family started a conversation with me, in the end the husband volunteered to buy me my ticket to Tirucuchchirapali. It’s even difficult to say the mane of the town… The lovely family of 3 = parents and a kid at the age of 10, were so happy to help me, talking hardly any English, but all smiling.
The right train arrived. A mass of people that came from all over jumped into the train, I followed the nice family. The train was packed to the brim!!! there were no places to seat or hardly any way to stand. Suddenly a man came close and said to me that it’s not a place for me to travel in that compartment, and he helped me out in a rush with my bags to move to the reserved seats. He said to me: There is only some chance of having a space to seat on the flour… I said OK.
I got in. That compartment was full to the brim too, but the people looked tidyer, like middle class. I had just about a space to stand up. Eventually after 2 hours sitting on the flour, I set down between a nice Indian family of 15 that traveled with thier olds & babies to a Holy Temple festival. With the skarf of her Surri a woman did a cradle that was tied to the top rake, and her baby rested for the 4 hour journey peacfully.
I arried at my station, lots of peple left in a harry to their destinatins. Now I was looking for the night train to Cochin. I bought an ordinary ticket as there was no sleepers at the last moment, but there is always a chance! I was told.
Even that I was first, there were only 3 places in the sleepers and they were given to American-Indians with kids, that spoke the local langwich.
I slept on the couch, took out my pillow, and slept most of the night, opposite to a nice young woman.
At 06.45 I arrived to Ernakulam, a town next to Cochin, and took a Riksha car to Cochin! It was a bright morning, the town was waking up.
Now I am staying in a homely place – Orion Holidays, with hot water!
I must say I am enjouing every minute of it.
(*) p.s. I did not travel the Indian way – as they are booking their tickets weeks, months in advance.