For What It’s Worth.. 50.. October 20, 2011

My first full day here in Agra Cantt.. a great day indeed.. I have done a lot of  clothes washing starting at midnight when I walked into my room.. you get dirty and you get grimy traveling  on the trains .. you are wearing the same clothes going from your hotel to the train.. and waiting.. in Calcutta you get dirty just standing around.. you get dirty all train ride and you get dirty getting to your hotel.. and I did not want to go to bed with a batch of dirty clothes.. I finished washing this morning..

Met up with Jeevan Lal and spent a lot of time all throughout the day visiting with Jeevan in his shop.. photos to follow.. I have been coming here to this hotel for many years.. and I know the immediate area very well ..

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TRAIN TRIP STORY .. I have written  about the PHENOMENAL trip here on the train.. as I suggested in FWIW .. 49 .. you may want to re-read FWIW .. 12 .. for the trip from New Delhi to Calcutta on September 10th and 11th with a focus on my having an upper berth and issues with the family below me in the lower berth..  basically they expected me to spend the entire trip up in my upper berth..

On the basic (upper class air conditioned) train coach you have an aisleway down the side of the coach.. to one side you have cabins with four berth in each cabin..two uppers and two lowers .. those four berths orient perpendicularly to the lengthwise axis of the long narrow coach.. on the other side.. you have two only berths (an upper and a lower) that run lengthwise along the aisleway..

I know by heart the numbers of these two aisleway berths..  5/6.. 11/12.. 17/18.. 23/24.. 29/30.. 35/36.. 41/42.. 47/48.. 53/54..

BECAUSE I will get another train before I will ride in one of these aisleway berths.. they are worse than horrible because they are shorter.. they are narrower.. and there is very little storage space beneath the lower berth.. and I know this from personal experience from one trip years ago IN the upper of one of these aisleway berths.. I could NOT stretch full out and I felt as IF I was going to be thrown from the berth as the train rocked and rolled along and I had no place for my baggage so I had to check it in the baggage car ..

On this  trip.. one of the most extraordinary young women I  have ever met in India was in the upper berth across from my cabin .. a professional woman (she and her husband own businesses (plural) was traveling to see her daughter attending University in Ajmer (the termnal destination of the train) .. I did not get her name .. so I will call her Lady Priyanka ..

OK.. the stage is set for a fun story ..

Fact 1 .. on a train coach.. it has been my experience.. based on twenty one (21) years of train travel in India.. that each.. and that every adult passenger (and their older children.. say age five up..) will soon KNOW .. Fact 2 .. who I am and what I am and my age and where I am going and all they can glean from one another .. the walls and the seats and the floors have ears in the East .. Fact 3.. as you board the coach.. attached to the outside of the coach.. is a coach manifest.. a fully detailed list of each and of every passenger.. by berth number.. name included .. in Hindi and in English .. age included .. and destination included ..

So much for ANONYMITY !!

Just your name gives you away.. then the age thing.. and the destination.. and having themselves gotten aboard and gotten themselves and their families organized..  they (the males) .. study this manifest (for something to do) as they smoke and await for the train to begin to move .. tongues are flying.. maybe if I can get to know this foreigner ..  HE WILL help me get to his country ..

Total strangers from other cabins will find a pretext to come into my cabin to get to know me ..

Fact 4.. I usually / always  GET OFF THE TRAIN when they stop at stations en route to their destinations..  Fact 5.. at age 75 I am slowly losing it .. Fact 6 .. at the very end of each coach.. each coach has two toilets at each end .. are the toilets..

THE STAGE IS SET .. lights.. camera.. action ..

I was off the train..in Allahabad ..  (Dawn 48073 show the kids where that is) .. stretching and studying the action on the platform and just getting air when the ENORMOUSLY LOUD air horn in the Engine sounded THAT SOUND and all the males off  the train went hurriedly dashing for their ONE door onto their coach.. it can be a bit of a hassle mate just getting aboard a train that picks up speed PHENOMENALY QUICKLY..

Of course you can get aboard another coach and work your way back home IF your coach is not isolated from the others (mine was) to prevent the lower class travelers from coming into your upper class air conditioned coach .. and trust me they WILL DO THIS .. (God.. let them eat cake !)..

So I got myself aboard.. and was a tad disoriented from the pushing and shoving to get back onto my coach .. so I aim for the front end of my coach figuring IF I miss that entry I have the rear end entry into the coach to catch or.. just get on the train anyway I can .. even into a third class coach ..

(captain.. what are you doing.. playing russian roulette..)

By this point in the trip.. we were over halfway along so I had (Mentally) a good mark on my berth.. I knew what my berth and I knew what my berth mates looked like.. I could recognize my home.. away from home..

And.. I toddled along.. looking to my left.. into the berths.. and went (not knowing it) past my berth.. and got to the far end of the coach and thought..

(very good captain.. you know the toilets are not you home.. and so you have missed your berth..)

So back to the other end of the coach I went and .. again I MISSED my berth..

(very good captain.. you know THOSE  toilets are not your home either.. did you get onto the WRONG COACH maybe captain .. )..

Now ‘Zilla .. go back up and re-read Facts 1, 2 and 3 ..

As I began to make my way back through the coach all of the fingers began to point and the voices began to say..

“Your berth is there Sir..”

AND YOU WONDER .. CAP.. WHY IS IT YOU LOVE INDIA SO VERY MUCH..

They all knew I was lost and I was confused ..

And you don’t think they all are not studying your each and your every movement and motion..

AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY.. rest forever in Peace .. Mister Paul Harvey..

Above I wrote of a PHENOMENAL (Lady Priyanka) young woman on the train in the upper berth of the aisleway berths..

SHE WAS SITTING.. SHE WAS OCCUPYING.. MY SEAT POSITION IN MY BERTH SO I DID NOT RECOGNIZE MY STUFF  BECAUSE I COULD NOT SEE MY STUFF BECAUSE SHE WAS BLOCKING MY VIEW OF MY STUFF.. AND OH BY THE WAY.. BECAUSE I HAD NOT EVER SEEN HER BEFORE IN THIS LIFETIME EVER..

BECAUSE SHE HAD BEEN IN HER UPPER BERTH FOR HOURS..

BECAUSE THE MALE IN THE LOWER BERTH WOULD NOT YIELD TO HER AND INSISTED ON SLEEPING IN HIS LOWER BERTH..

And when I entered my berth she said to me .. “Sir.. I am here because I got sick and I got tired of being trapped in my upper berth across there and hope it would be OK for me to sit here and stretch out a little bit..”

At that point I had a ..gentle  little DISCUSSION with that male ..

He did NOT DO AS I SUGGESTED.. HE DID NOT DO AS LADY PRIYANKA SUGGESTED.. HE DID NOT GET UP INTO HER UPPER BERTH TO GO BACK TO SLEEP.. NO.. HE SCRUNCHED UP INTO HIS CORNER AND WENT BACK TO SLEEP BUT LADY PRIYANKNA AT LEAST HAD ROOM TO SIT AND READ HER BOOK ..

Lady Priyanka was reading a novel.. about an inch thick.. IN ENGLISH ..

(I thought.. whew. she must understand English.. very good captain.. we can see you are keeping up..)

Well in short time we all got to know one another.. the elderly couple across from me .. I asked lady Priyanka IF she.. in Bengali.. would tell them how much I liked them and how much I liked having them as berth mates..

Soon they were talking to Patti.. well.. sortta.. it was fun..

It turned out Lady Priyanka speaks multiple languages and at my request.. she helped me brush up a little on my own Hindi symbols..

They have 36 CONSONANTS and 11 VOWELS .. and they do not repeat a word with several meanings ( lead .. LEAD me to your ladder lady I will see your leader later.. I have made a fortune mining LEAD out in the West.. I was LEAD to wisdom by world travel..) ..

She said learning English was a bit of a joke compared with Hindi.. evidently Sanscrit is worse.. Hindi de-volved down from Sanscrit because the masses could not deal with Sanscrit.. try Arabic on for size.. or Mandarin..

And we think we have all the answers for all of the world outside of us..

With a 47 character basic alphabet (their hard A and soft a have different characters.. eleven characters for their vowels !) they can say much more than we can with our 26 characters.. A through Z ..

AND YOU ALL ASK ME.. CAP.. WHAT EXACTLY IS IT YOU LOVE ABOUT INDIA..

I had 53 people watching out for my back ..

time to sign off.. i am getting  a tad emotional here ..

GO BACK TO .. For What It’s Worth.. 34.. October 4, 2011.. and you have..

THE MAGICAL MOMENT..

MARK IT.. it was Tuesday.. it was October the 4th.. it was 3:13PM in the afternoon.. I was in the Entally Market in Calcutta.. and CLICK.. this trip REALLY BEGAN BECAUSE AT THAT INSTANT I KNEW I WAS HOME AGAIN..

time to sign off .. much much MUCH LOVE.. Cap..

I got caught up in the writings about the life of Steve Jobs and what a phenomenal man Steve Jobs was.. we all have the potential..

Let me. .please allow me .. to empower you to be you ..


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