We left Kochi at 8:00 am by mini-bus and car
for the train station. It was a half hour drive and the train station was
actually clean! It was interesting to see that the seats on the platform
were provided by the Lions Club of India -- we have performed for Canadian
chapters of this service club for many decades back home.
Thinking ahead, we picked up crisps, cookies and mango
juice -- we were going to be prepared as we were embarking on a 3.5-hour
train journey, followed by a 3-hour bus ride.
Our new travellers were four lovely young ladies and
a man. We were definitely out-numbered by Brits! Nally was a lawyer from
London, but she had been visiting family in Calcutta before joining us.
Eve had just finished law school. Anna, a petite red-head, was enjoying
her second gap year, and Step, a brunette, worked for an export/import
food company. Surprisingly she exports Patak Indian pastes! Berlaze was
a Hungarian ex-university literature professor who quit teaching to travel
and to write his first novel. His life philosophy, etc. was very interesting.
He was afraid to eat the food in India, so carried cans of tuna, oatmeal,
and protein powder -- quite the diet, especially when surrounded by so
many exotic India dishes. The rest of our crew was still intact. Becky
remained vigilant in watching out for her “grandpa and nanna” She is quite
funny and we enjoy her exuberance.
It was a comfortable ride in the train's A/C compartment.
Food hawkers walked up and down the aisle constantly, especially after
each train station stop: coffee, ice-cream, biriyani, etc. The countryside
changed again: rubber tree plantations, banana plantations, pineapple fields
and rice fields waiting for the monsoon before planting. Here, the germinated
seeds are broadcast onto the fields once the rains come. There were homes
built all along the railroad tracks, and they appeared to be well maintained.
They looked like the houses we saw in Malaysia. Sanjay said this area is
one of the most prosperous areas (Kerala state) because of the cash crops.
We took many interesting photos of the passing countryside
-- unfortunately, the windows of our passenger car were tinted and dusty
so the images are not as clear as we would like them. Many of them we have
moved to the OUTTAKES
page and are there for perusal by those interested.