Saturday, 17 July 2010

Return to Mumbai

We woke up early and left Nagercoil for Trivandrum 3 hrs before the train was due to leave. We had our rally driver wannabe driving so we felt safe to reach on time (70 km trip). The traffic was light to begin with and we made good headway. I was still amazed with the amount of hospitals and schools in Tamil Nadu.

Loaded hay truck

This lady had her own road safety gear, a grinding mask

Apparently the illiteracy level is very low here compared to other areas in India and crime too due to the reason of religious upbringing (most schools names are preceded by Her Holiness School .... The Saint School .... ), so the kids here are very smart and have a knack for curing people. During these few days I must have seen a specialist hospital for nearly every organ in the body.

One of the many Churches of Tamil Nadu

After we passed the Tamil Nadu and Kerala border and were about 10k's into Kerala the traffic slowed down and finally stopped into complete gridlock. I wondered what is going on and the driver informed that we are at the Kerala Custom checkpoint. They check trucks that they have all the proper tax documents for bringing stuff into Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Gridlocked at the checkpoint

Sounds ridiculous but this is India and it is not one country, it is consisting of several states and they all have their own regulations. In New Delhi is only the Central Government. I once heard a discussion that if India would not have strong Central Government the whole system (i.e. country) would fall into chaos. Very much like Burma that also consists of something like 30+ tribes (states) but is ruthlessly ruled by a military junta.

One stop medicine shop: Western, Eastern and animal drugs

Anyway, we sat in the traffic queue for at least 45m and then we started making headway. I was looking at the watch but was not worried at this stage. Our driver were clocking in kilometers again and it seemed we were on time when the traffic came to a crawl at a busy intersection. The driver said it was the last bottle neck on the way. The clock was ticking and we started discussing plan "B" if we would not make the train.

Roadside breakfast

The intersection was guarded by Lord Krishna

Finally we passed the intersection and entered into Trivandrum where traffic was not all too smooth. We all were counting minutes now. The driver was making daredevil maneuvers on the road and the trainstation was still far away. We had something like 10 minutes left for the train departure when we passed the last bridge before the station, we raced over it and the driver turned left into the station and we exited the taxi, fast.

People at the bus station

On the rail road again

Richard grabbed a coolie to take our luggage and we followed him while Richard ran ahead to find the correct platform and to inform the conductor that we were coming. The coolie did not run, I don't think anybody runs with 30 kilos on his head and a few bags on his shoulder so we were just hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Finally we got to the train, found our compartment and loaded ourselves onto it. We shook hands with Richard and he said goodbye. The coolie asked for 200 Rs, so Richard took him outside to deal with, (he settled for 100 Rs). Once we sat down and managed to catch our breath the train started moving. We had made it in the last second...

Meeting cargo train

The return trip was the same as coming down, same chicken and rice and once we reached Maharashtra it started raining. There were no Naxalites and no derailings, so all was good. As we had agreed to meet up with Dubey for dinner at his pad we got off the next evening at Panvel. This time we had a taxi that could fit a bag into the boot as last time our stuff got wet and I was not taking any chances with the weather.

Paddy field

Plowing paddy with Oxen

In Khargar at Dubey's place we met his mother, wife, daughter and son. I had bought the kids some halva to treat themselves to. As we were tired of the trip we had an excellent dinner and pretty much fell asleep.

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