At a glance, you wouldn't recognize the Metro station in Bangalore as a Metro.
The homeless are asleep on old sacks at the entrance, unaware - or unconcerned? - that people are watching them. They doze in rows in front of the ticket booths, as if to warn travelers that these trains are not for the faint of heart. The sewer rats scurrying below are as restless as the passengers who sit on their trunks (read: luggage) on the platform as they wait to board.
Most lengthy train journeys, like the one I took last week, are overnight. The conductors provide freshly laundered sheets and blankets to assuage the fears of those who are wary that the seats-come-beds in the "sleeper cars" are coated with grime. It was a novel experience, waking up in the middle of the night as the train lurched from side to side, but it was exciting - all the thrills of a roller coaster ride without having to wait in line.
And we were lucky; the toilet was superior to the lavatories you find in most trains, which are nothing more than holes in the floors of the carriages.
The peddlers who walk up and down the aisles are a colorful group. If one is hawking a lemon juicer, he'll bring a lemon along and give his potential customers a demonstration. The man who sells cookbooks and self-help guides does business mainly because the tomes, translated from Kannada, are laden with typos, which the masses find hilarious. He is blissfully ignorant of the fact that no one buys his paperbacks with the intention of taking them seriously.
The trip is chaotic. But in the morning as the engine eases to a halt and sunlight is filtering through the dust-encrusted windowpanes, everything changes. The world is almost tranquil, if just for a split second, before you dismount the train and reenter the world of chaos. It's enough.
A ride on a Bangalore train is an unforgettable experience - a reminder to passengers that sometimes the journey matters more than the destination.
Sonalee Rau. Sonalee (suh-NAH-lee) is a chipper Chipper and a would-be magnet junior. She spends a great deal of time playing tennis (Blair is red hot), doodling, reading, quoting famous people, quoting not-so-famous people and lamenting her inability to play the piano. She is also a big … More »