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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

By train and plane from Kerala to Rajasthan

Impressions of India: 13

I’m currently travelling for 3 months in India, through Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan, with a pretty hot and hectic schedule of boutique hotel reviews. The galleries below are my online photojournalist diary of scenes caught, people met and things found along the way. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did and am still.

Please do take a moment to log and/or e-mail me your reactions and comments - knowing that lots of you are reading and enjoying it will add great fuel to my fire!

I photographed this notice on Varkala's station platform while waiting for the train to Cochin as it alarmed me. Given the number of people (usually men) I've seen strolling or running across railway tracks here on a regular basis, I'd assumed the tracks aren't  electrified here as they are in the UK.  According to this sign, however, they are.
Another stunning sunset as we rollocked and clanked past a big lake.
The chai wallahs were doing their usual efficient carriage-service rounds.
This sweet girl, Rohan, was sitting opposite me with her brother Raj and her mother Anyesha. They were all returning home to Cochin after a Varkala temple visit.
Rohan's mother, complete with temple-blessing forehead daubs & red-string bracelet,
and Raj with his.

Brother and sister played very sweetly together, despite what must have been a good 5-6-year age gap, and showed a clear and very strong affection for each other. Rock, paper, scissors, a complicated numbers game using raised fingers, and the old synchronised hand-clapping game all featured during our long ride together. 
This little minx (again with those dyed-in eyebrows though they're rather better done here), was clearly a late, adored and probably horribly spoilt child. Her mother looked well into her early 50s, though exhaustion might have been making her seem older than she was. 
The hand-clapping game kept Rohan and Raj well entertained more than once.
Every time the train screeched to a halt, the smell from the end-of-carriage toilet became overpowering, and there was a general grimacing and holding of saris/flannels/scarves to noses. Yet when I peeped past the open toilet door I was surprised to see that it was remarkably clean. I had some Body Shop White Musk to hand and so offered hand-spraying to all those closest to me which was accepted with amused smiles and enjoyed.
The mixed carriage was much more crowded than my Ladies-only one to Trivandrum (I only got a seat after standing near the open door for the first hour or so) but everyone was very pleasant and well-behaved and I still haven't  seen (or felt) any evidence of the bane known as 'eve-teasing'. 
This carriage (and perhaps every other on this train) had television sets mounted above the entrances at either end. In between ads, they were showing some all-singing, all-dancing Hindi film that was keeping lots of the passengers entertained.
A not-so-picturesque sleeper, given the little pile underneath him.
All the overhead fans keep the carriages pretty cool, though things can get stuffy during the extended and unexplained mid-station stops, and the little one is clearly draining the very last drop.

Rohan and Raj's granny, sitting beside me, who'd clearly found the temple visit and extended train journeys rather taxing. We were supposed to be on a 3-hour 'Express' train but it really didn't deserve the name given all the frustrating halts and our 2.5-hours-late arrival in Cochin. 
After all-too-little sleep, at 6.30 I was off to Cochin airport (a full 45km, hour-long-drive away from its namesake), by aircon taxi to catch my flight to Mumbai (Bombay) and then on to Jodhpur. Most taxis I've seen in India have seat-covers to soak up their passengers' sweat, but this was the first time I'd seen tied-on pink towels employed.
My taxi driver Dharma, clearly one of India's substantial contingent of Christians.
And this is the bright and shiny, executive class Cochin airport, which comes complete with a vending machine selling magazines and newspapers - another thing I haven't seen before. 
Here's the little chap sitting behind me who'd been happily kicking my seat for most of the flight,
and my own personal ground staff escort and private bus whisking me across the Mumbai airport tarmac, from my just-touched-down-but-slightly-late Cochin flight to my waiting Jodhpur one. 
Mumbai from the sky. The large low-rise area between the water and the skyscrapers must be the slums.

Posts still to come before we're up-to-date: 

My wonderful 5-hour sleeper bus, straight from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer
One musical, 1 contemporary, 1 suddenly-abandonned, and 2 Stone Age-style villages in the Thar Desert
Magical Jaisalmer Fort


  1. What a fantastic collection!

  2. HI cathy - love the images look forward to seeing your final selection for the exhibition - Ron.

  3. Some superb portraits this time.
    Thank goodness for Raas!

  4. Awsome pics, as ever:) i really liked the sunset pics, i think the coloures are just amazing! mo xx