Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Menagerie Express

Lunatic Express might not be so bad a description.

The Upper Class Carriage is a series of open compartments - a series of 4 bunks on one side faced by 2 at right angles - all the way down the carriage. Privacy is provided by curtains. The AC works but the carriage is grubby, to put it mildly (those averse to Bugus Wugus Vulgaris stand clear!) Apparently this is the best available from Indian Railways on this 825km trip.

Mike decided the only response was a sleeping tablet. He may be right - 20 hours is a long time.

On the other hand, having seen the non-AC carriages and the absurd number of people in them, I have to be thankful.

What makes the experience a menagerie, though, is the entrepreneurial sole traders constantly flogging their wares up and down the carriage. You would not believe the range of goods and services on offer: water, sweet tea (hot water/milk laced with sugar is poured into a small cup with a tea bag), a vast array of fresh food snacks (involving peeling, mixing, smearing and such like), processed foods (biscuits, crisps and more) and ice cream.

But wait! Surely, Sir, you need a screwdriver set? a USB key? a comb? a teeshirt? a pair of binoculars? a carry bag? a charger? a photograph of Jesus that turns into the Blessed Virgin when you tilt it away from you? a rubik's cube? a calculator? a watch? a foot pump (with pressure indicator, Sir!), a set of table mats? a toy car? (Hawkers for every one of them)

And, Sir, you must consider a massage? I have many oils! Excellent fingers! You will be feeling most relaxed, Sir!


"Sweet Divine Mother of Jesus!" - Mike, give me two of those tablets!

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