Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Who are we without our stories? – part one

Journey to Calcutta

It’s the middle of May and Kyekue and I are standing in a long queue waiting patiently to buy our train tickets for our holidays. It’s starting to get hot in india and it was going to be baking in april when we began our travels. Therefore, when we get to the front of the queue to book our 24hr train to Calcutta we decided that travelling in hot and congested sleeper class was not a good idea and instead 3ac (air conditioned) is a much better option. We bought 4 waiting list tickets for me, Kirsty, Shannon and Kyekue. For those of you who are yet to come to india, waiting list means that we couldn’t actually board the train because we don’t have seats. But this is no problem because people will cancel and the waiting list will bump up into the empty seats.

The days ticked past and still our tickets remained on the waiting list. The day before we were leaving arrived and we were still on the waiting list. As my children would say, it was ‘Not Good’. We went to the ticket office and they said we should get on the train anyway and then talk to the tickets man. Unfortunately the ticket master had other ideas. After repeatedly getting on at us about how we shouldn’t have got on the train he allowed us to sit in his conductor’s seat until more passengers needed to use the seats and the luggage seats.

Four of us sat to one seat for about 7 hours and then the time came for us to move as a whole family of Indians boarded the train. We lugged our giant bags through all 13 carriages of sleeper without any success in finding a seat. At this point our only options were general class or ladies only carriage. We had a mutual agreement that the ladies carriage was a better option. Ladies only is a very loose term, it was women, children and men, mainly those who didn’t even have tickets for the train. All the Indians looked genuinely shocked to see 4 British girls getting into this carriage. But we sat down on the floor with them. We found out that they were from Andhra Pradesh and started talking to them in Telegu. They loved it. We provided them with entertainment and they provided us with a way of spending the next 12 hours not bored. We made friends with a small boy, who had a great idea to give us all nicknames: Cake (Kyekue), Ice-cream (Kirsty), Chocolate (Shannon) and Biscuit (me). He was very cute.

I slept on the floor all night, with the giant cockroaches and a man staring at me. It was quite scary but I was quite thankful for him being there when half way through the night he got up and shut the windows. He explained that sometimes, people will put guns or knives through the windows and demand your stuff. Scary stuff!

The girl sleeping on one of the two beds was going to Calcutta to have her leg removed and as it got later into the evening (like 10pm) a lady got on and we were sure she was a prostitute.
Disabled/womens only carriage, living the life of an indian and love it!!!

One of those journeys you will never forget. And I’m so glad we did what we did because I had an amazing journey and I met some amazing people.