Wow!! So much has happened since my last post. I don't have time to write about most of it now. However, I do want to share my first visit to the train station with you.
Viv and I are in Itarsi. We came here Saturday morning with Beth, Carolyn, Dayal, and Sedhana (Archana's father and sister) on Saturday afternoon. We were here to visit with Archana's family and attend Mid India Yearly Meeting's Centennial celebration.
Earlier this evening, Viv and I put Beth and Carolyn on a train to Delhi. Carolyn is beginning her trip home while Beth will go on to Agra where she will visit the Taj Mahal. The train station was crowded. We had to walk up many stairs and back down to get to the platform. Viv, Beth and Carolyn carried their suitcases until we got to the top of the stairs where we ran into a porter who gave us directions to the correct platform and offered to carry the luggage. Beth and Carolyn decided to accept his offer knowing that they will need to tip him. He picked up Carolyn's hugh suitcase put it opn his head, grabbed Beth's in his hand and carried them down the stairs to the platform. He took us to the section where Carolyn's seat on the train would be and left us on the platform witing for the train. A train did come, but it wasn't the one we needed, it was going to Mumbia (Bombay.) We were in the area of second class section of the Mumbai train. When the train arrived people were hanging out of the car. A man jumped out of a window onto the platform when it stopped. Others piled out of the door. It was very choatic. People were everywhere. They were like sardines piling out of a can. The vendors were yelling, people were getting of the train to purchase food and beverages. It was so interesting to watch. When it was time for the train to leave people were still trying to get into the packed car when it began pulling out of the station. I watched in horror as people were walking along the platform trying to push themselves onto the train in the second class section. I was hoping that Beth would not have to be in that section.
Beth originally planned to leave from Bhopal tomorrow evening, but changed her ticket to leave with Carolyn today from Itarsi. Carolyn had a confirmed seat, but Beth did not, she was on the waiting list. We did not know where she would end up. Our plan was to put her in the section (sleeping car) with Carolyn and hope she could pay for a ticket higher than the general board one she had to stay with Carolyn. Carolyn said she was willing to share her birth.
After the Mumbai train left with everone on it, even the last few who walked then ran along the platform the clean up crew came through. I have learned here in India the first stage of the clean up crew are the dogs and cows. They eat whatever garbage gets left on the ground. It was funny seeing a cow on a train platform. While we were sitting on the platform they announced that the TT Express (Beth and Carolyn's train) was now coming into platform 3, not 1 where we currently were standing. We quickly grabbed the luggage and headed back up the platform for the stairs. We met their porter on the way. He grabbbed their luggage and encouraged us to cross the tracks with him. We continued to the stairs walking as fast as we could. Viv was still carrying one of Carolyn's suitcases. We walked up the stairs of platform one over to the area for platform 2&3 and walked down those steps. As we were walking down the platform to the section where Carolyn's seat would be the porter spotted us and began waving. We reached him a few minutes before the train stopped. He thought we were very silly for not following him across the tracks. Yes, it was a shorter walk, but the drop down and climb up to the platform was bigger than I could or would do. Also I must admit that I did see a rat walking around on the tracks earlier. So, the tracks were the last place I wanted to get stuck. The platform was 4-5 feet higher than the tracks and there were no steps!
We got both Beth and Carolyn on the train. I was glad to see that there were fewer people in the sleeper car than the second class car. Viv talked to the people around Carolyn's birth and explained Beth's situation. She made it off the train just as it began moving out of the station. People seem to easily jump on and off the train at the last moment as it rolls out of the station. We waved by to Beth and Carolyn as they sat side to side talking with the people around them.
Tomorrow afternoon Viv and I will take the train back to Bhopal. I saw Beth and Carolyn's departure as a dry run for us. I hope ours is smoother and just as entertaining. Viv and I did not stay and wait for the clean up crew. I assume they will eat the garbage that the passengers from the TT Express left on the platform. I am not sure how the cow got on the platform. I assum it walks up and down the stairs like everyone else unless it jumps 4-5 feet up onto the platform from the tracks. Oh how I would love to see and get a photograph of that happening.