An Unforgettable Independence Day: A Train Journey through India’s Vibrant Countryside

July 4th, Independence Day in 2022 was quite unlike any other we’ve experienced before. Because we heard absolutely no fireworks, being still in India, where it was just another day. First we checked out of our hotel in Kochi, where once again the staff brought tea tour room in the morning. Upon checking out, we offered to settle the bill for the tea service, but there wasn’t one. So we just left a tip instead. There, that’ll teach ’em.

Leaving Kochi

Then we were off to try to find a tuk-tuk. Except there was none to be found that wasn’t already full. Normally you can’t walk a block in India without at least one tuk-tuk driver asking if you need a ride. So we ended up walking all the way, a distance of several blocks in the heat and toting all our bags. This would leave us drenched in our own sweat, and needing a trip to the head for a sponge bath and change and clothing once we got aboard.

A train trip in India is always an immersion into a vibrant mélange of humanity, a scintillating swirl of flesh and color. When we arrived on the platform and sat down to wait with our bags (there were waiting rooms, segregated by gender, but they were pretty much at capacity), we were approached by a man dressed in an orange tunic (or whatever the appropriate name is), who just stood there and stared at us expectantly. Was he a panhandler? A recruiter from a cult? Somehow we overlooked that he had a little cart next to him; and it was not until we saw another man passed by pulling a cart and wearing similar attire that we realized they were porters. At this point we indicated to him that, no thank you, we didn’t need his services.

Kochi to Vallattol Nagar

Towards Mangalore

Onward the train went clickety-clack through the Indian countryside that easily seduce the photographic lens. Peasants in the fields, shantytowns, cities, towns and villages all roll bye and demand your focus. One of the first stations we pulled into was Vallattol Nagar, named after Vallathol Narayana Menon, a celebrated poet who wrote in the Malayalam language. For our money, naming something after an artist is much more fitting than naming something after a politician. Later, we pulled into the major seaport of Mangalore. We marveled at the scenery outside our windows until the darkness swallowed it up.

Passing through Palakkad Station

Passing through Podanur Junction

Birds = End of Post

July 4, 2022 (part 1, the journey continues in the next post)

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