I was in Sudan on staurday.
I was supposed to be in a metropolitan city in India on Thursday.
That appointment which was fixed a month before and I didn't wish to miss it.
I checked time tables and informed my travel agent and she confirmed my booking. I will land at the city airport in the wee hours on Thursday and my appointment wss at 11 AM, giving me ample time to refresh in a hotel.
Sunday morning, my travel agent was frantically on my line informing me of a Gulf Air cancellation. She apologized and told me that my direct flight was cancelled. She could book an indirect flight which would land at 1300 hrs.
I said no way, as I have every chance of missing my appointment.
She offered an alternative option if I am ready to travel one day early. I can land in another city and take an air conditioned train ride if that is acceptable.
Though I would loose a day, I was thrilled by the offer of traveling in a train for almost 9 hrs. I accepted the offer on one condition, to get me a booking in a non air-conditioned compartment which was a cheaper way to see the country and safer in the rainy season.
But what I finally had was a booking in an air-conditioned compartment, my only available option.
Came Wednesday, and the Gulf Air flight landed on time as promised by my travel agent.
I got in the train in a reserved seat in the air conditioned coach. It was clean and neat inside but the only problem I had was the widows.
I wasn’t able to breathe fresh air as all the window panes were locked to help the air-conditioning system. I could see everything through the window but I missed the fresh air.
This was my long awaited travel in a train after a very long time. I kept looking through my windows at the beautiful country side. The green paddy crops out side, and the rain drops on the windows. It was monsoon time in India.
The train stopped in a station and I looked out my window.
I noticed that some people were getting out from my couch to the platform for food in the station restaurant, which means that there will be at least half hour delay in the station. I got out to the platform to stretch my legs.
As I looked around, I found a lot or renovation going on in the station itself by the granite slabs piled at one corner and the steel rods stacked beside the fence.
Right through the top of the heap of granite, I could see and upper parts of an elephant with a mahout on top.
But there was some thing wrong in the movement of the jungle giant and the tiny fellow on top controlling it.
I was curios and moved as close as possible as I can and there I saw a small crowd of people with amusement in their face. I couldn’t move closer but I could feel the uneasiness in the movement of the elephant and looking up from that position I could see the mahout lying on top and shouting at some one occasionally.
Jac ! the curious ! couldn’t move closer! The fence and and the granite slabs prevented it.
I moved to a man who looked like a railway worker from his dress, who was looking at the commotions with interest and laughing with amusement.
I moved closer and asked him what was the problem with that elephant. With out looking up from the sight he replied that the problem was not with the elephant but with mahout.
He said looking up at me with a smile and said that the mahout is drunk.
OMG!!! That was news to me!
I have seen elephants of Africa which are bigger and fiercer in look.
But I also know that Indian elephants are graceful, though they are smaller in size. I haven’t seen any mahout being drunk on top of an elephant. I wanted to go out of the station and watch the scene. I looked around and saw people trying to board the train. I had no luck, I had little time.
I wanted to know what happened to the mahout, but the announcement came on the paging system that the train will leave in a few minutes. I ran inside the compartment for my camera and had just enough time to take it out of my bag as the train started whistling.
I wanted at least a picture of the scene from the fence, but at the door, the guard cautioned me that the train will move now as the signal is clear.
I went back inside to my window seat, moved the curtains fully and cleaned the glass panes.
The view was partial, with the granite slabs and movement of people marring the view. I just had enough time for two shots through the window, as the train started moving.
I wished I could share all I saw there. I wanted to get down and watch the aftermath.
This was a time, the time that I miss my car.
Traveling with a self driven car has its advantages.
I could stop anywhere I liked or sleep in any place I wished.
That is a fun in dry seasons… but in monsoon or what others call as rainy season, the drive can be risky with slippery roads with water filled pot holes.
You may sleep at your heart’s contend with a stranded car in the middle of a forest locked up inside, with rain and a storm beating around you.
You also may hear the thud and you may open your eyes to see a wild tusker looking at you through the wind shield, challenging you to come out with raised hands.
Ha! Ha! My imagination is wilder than me.
I have a picture of my window seat too.
Thanks for being patient with my blah! blahs!