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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saturday - The final train journey

The 17th - A train from Chennai to Mumbai that would take 27 hours. I noticed that, as I sat on the train and observed my surroundings, I was slowly starting to place my head back in a European city - I can’t exactly imagine how Rome will be, but I can at least start adapting and placing myself in the Western way of living, which I’ll be experiencing from Monday onwards.

This adaptation has had a big effect on how I’ve coping the past 24 hours. The life I was witnessing around me, felt almost as if I was watching a movie, set in India, without subtitles. Absolutely everything. I was placed outside of myself and the chaos around me started to open my eyes. I wasn’t seeing these things for the first time though! But it sure felt like I was. I had to laugh to myself at the ridiculousness of some of their actions, and at the commotion they caused for no apparent reason. I also smiled at how they were eating their way from one side of India to the next, as the “food-men” would come by, every 10 minutes or so, selling just about every dish that can be found on an Indian menu (actually that’s a slight exaggeration..) . The luggage some of them would carry, was unreal.. They transport all kinds of goods by train: sacks of rice, grains and vegetables, parcels the size of barrels containing their life-long possessions, 20 suitcases per family and bags of food of course just in case they may all fall down with the hunger, or in the unlikely event the “food-men” run out of items. It’s so funny. I was highly amused for hours, but still needed to dive into my book whenever I felt it all to be too much.

The journey progressed and changes started to appear. As the passengers were getting on and off, the language was becoming predominant Hindi, instead of Tamil. There was no more idly or dosa to eat, except now it was chiapatty. The train was entering what is known as Northern India and we were leaving the beautiful South behind, with every hour that passed. What I noticed more than anything else, was the amount of beggars that started to bombard the train, the nearer we got to Mumbai. And the “scenery” only confirmed the poverty that was more apparent in the North, with the countless slums passing by the barricaded train windows. It didn’t inspire me, nor did it make me want to reach Mumbai, even after being on a dirty train for so long. I would have happily stayed on the train. Venturing out into this unknown city was something I really didn’t feel too excited about.

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