Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, June 21
The Night Train
After a drive to the train station that was terrifying only to the same degree that all drives are around Chennai, we boarded our sleeper car for the overnight ride in to the neighboring state. Lucy’s relief upon arriving at our seats was quite a thing to see. She had been dreading this weekend because it would involve this train ride. The train was roughly what I expected. There were three levels of bunk beds. With the middle folded down all three of the passengers assigned to that area could sit comfortably. If you were sitting on the bottom of our three bunks, on your left would be a window. There would be an identical set of three bunks facing you straight ahead. To your right is the walkway (which runs the length of the car). Beyond that is another set of bunks arranged perpendicular to the first two sets. The car was well lit and air conditioned. Once we got settled Lucy was having a blast. She moved into her top bunk even before the train stated moving. With the exception of a period of time in which a man was screaming about the coffee that he was peddling (6AM-ish), we all slept well. I was the first up. When Stephen got up I was watching the scenery fly by through our heavily tinted windows. He told me that there was a better view and showed me to the door through which we had boarded, which he promptly opened for me. It was a much better view. Shortly after Stephen opened the door I became acutely aware of my mortality and moved back toward our bunks.
The scenery was nice, but it was more rural and less jungle than I was expecting to see. I became privately disheartened when we detrained in a setting nearly as urban as the one that we had just left. I wondered why we had taken a 12 hour train ride from one urban venue to another. At breakfast Stephen explained that next came a 2 hour drive to the “resort.” This made me feel worse. I was certain that 2 hours would not be a sufficient amount of time to reach the kind of deep jungle I was hoping for; and a “resort” (as I understood it) could not exist where I was hoping to be. I should have known better. In a country with cows and monkeys are a staple in the cities, the jungle isn’t as far as a foolish American would think. And Stephen, it would turn out, was using the word “resort” in a fashion that I was less familiar with.