Due to the delicate nature of my stomach and other parts of my body (thank you Imodium plus) and the fact that there were only the “come and get them” cheap seats on the toy train I took the bus instead. It was quicker, I had a window seat and the views through it would have been great if it wasn’t raining and the mountain scenery obscured by low clouds.
Arriving in the non-descript town of Coimbatore I got myself a room in a posh hotel (R800 an night in a non A/C room with cable TV!) across the road from the train station. With the bags dumped on the bed I crossed the road to get a ticket for the next’s days train to Kochi. With the ticket purchased and in my wallet I walked back to the hotel and by the time I was in the lift and on the way to my 4th floor room the sudden terror of dreaded realization hit me. MY TRAIN TICKET WAS FOR UNRESERVED SEATING! The memories of Mumbai train station and watching people trading punches just to get on board the carriage swept over me leaving me light headed and afraid.
Not to worry, there was a bar attached to the hotel and the kingfisher did the trick of calming me down.
After a peaceful nights sleep, like that of a dead man’s last night on death row, I awoke early and checked my ticket again and realised it really wasn’t all a terrible dream!
On the platform waiting…..the train pulled in…..the carriage was half empty and only 3 people were waiting to board…EASY!!! Don’t know what I was worrying about. I even got a single seat by the window…bonus!
My ticket was for Ernakulum Junction which is the name of the suburb next to Kochi. About 2 kilometres before that is the station of Ernakulum Town. As the train pulled out of Ernakulum Town I thought about getting ready to disembark as my stop was only minutes away. 75 minutes later the train next stopped at the small town of Kottayam…bugger, or so I thought! Sitting outside the station flicking through the guide book I was happy with where I was. I could get a ferry ride from Kottayam to Alleppey (and then If I wanted to go back north to Kochi I could do so easily) and then continue south down the coast.
So looking back, how many people can say that they have travelled on an unreserved carriage in India. Not many I’m sure! Mind you I hope it will be the case of once and never again.