Train ride to the Western Ghats
Trip Start Dec 12, 2005
37Trip End May 02, 2006
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We did not actually get into the hills for a couple of hours and Maire and I really just wanted to look out of the windows and enjoy the views but one fellow passenger had other ideas
Eventually we arrived at our destination and found it to be a small town in the hills with nothing much of interest there except the local scenery. We took a rickshaw and asked him to take us to somewhere where we could get some lunch. Unfortunately the only local place was a small cafe which is normally the preserve of the local men. The food is all eaten with the hand (no knives and forks here!) This is a skill that Maire will never master and she does not even like to see me doing it! However, having been taken there I really thought that I should order something. The owner brought me a mutton birrianni served on a banana leaf plate and I ate it by squashing the rice and meat into small balls with the right hand and sort of "flicking" the balls into my mouth
Back at the station our train was on the platform and we sat and waited about 30 minutes for the train to draw out. We had a compartment to ourselves at the beginning but after a couple of stops a group of schoolboys boarded the train. They had seen us from the platform and the entire group of five or six boys made a beeline for our compartment and simply sat and stared at us. They were only 11 or 12 years old and there was no threat but it was very disconcerting. One of them started to talk to us which we knew would inevitably end in them asking for pens or rupees. Maire replied to them in Irish in the hope that they would get bored and move away.....but they didn't. Eventually they reached their stop and they all trooped merrily off the train doubtless to tell their friends of the strange beings they had encountered that afternoon.
As the train went on more men got on and once again we were subjected to yet another cross examination. What are your names? Where do you come from?....It was as if we were the first tourists they had ever met.....and we were both rapidly tiring of the whole game. Once again we pretended we could not speak any English and eventually we were left in peace to complete the journey. Raffi met us at the station and found the whole story very amusing. He explained that the people on the train are mostly Tamils and they do not see many strangers.....he said that Maire was possibly the first woman to venture into the cafe and that is why she was stared at. Still, at least in the time when we were not fending off the local's questions, I was able to take some photos and I shall put some of the better ones on the photo page.
On Sunday we are going to a wedding, Raffi's sister is getting married. The family is Muslim and this will be the first Islamic wedding that either of us has been to. I am also looking forward to meeting Raffi's English "boss" who is flying out tomorrow especially for the wedding.