Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
18.12.2009 - 18.12.2009
Renee - Train Trip
We thought we would stay in Chennai for a day so we could check the bollywood film studios close by but after doing a quick hotel search near the centre of Chennai, we decided the rooms were a bit filthy and decided to train it out of town to Pondicherry. I love the train stations. Long long solid trains in a station that seems to come from an era ago. Old classy signage, hand painted wooden board timetables, waiting rooms with dull fluorescent lights flickering, small barred booths to purchase your ticket, people sitting on their ‘old school’ luggage bags and an air of patience not normally found elsewhere in the world at train stations. We did chuckle at the old computer from the 70s with 6 buttons used to check the timetable and seat availability.
Taktal - Means tickets that are only made available within 2-5 days of departure for AC reservations. On any day it will give a number of taktal tickets available for the next few days, you have to search each day to see which day they fall on. It was confusing for us as we asked some locals what it meant.
Nothing was available in the AC classes so we decided to go for cattle class which still had to be reserved. This involved filling out a complete form on every detail mentionable needed. Then we were given a ticket. As the train pulled in we were in a flurry as to where we can sit on the 18+ carriages. The women train police with big sticks had a huge presence and were using their sticks on some naughty Indians sneaking through the windows. I braved it and asked a few as where to go. Eventually we figured out we had to go down past 12-15 carriages to find ours. We didn’t have seats together so there was another flurry with other passengers trying to swap seats as well. I quickly went and got some train snacks (cake and biscuits) and tea from the platform for lunch only to realise that men would be constantly running up and down with screaming snacks, tea, coffee, biriyani… you name it. We started chatting to some proud Tamil locals who were interested in the general stuff and why Aussies don’t like Indian students in Australia. Tough one to answer but it was a question asked frequently. I wanted to say that its not racially motivated cos it’s not just Indians getting hurt, considering the other stabbings in Melbourne but that doesn’t really help my argument unfortunately. Everyone seems quite proud of their state and are keen to find out how you find the people and the land there etc. Can’t quite compare this to Australia where the only difference is what you call the size of your beer, oh and the weather. We found out Kerala state is a socialist state which makes us wonder what the federal powers would be.
We quickly learnt that many train stations don’t have signs telling which station you’ve arrived at. How I’ve taken for granted signs in western countries. Thankfully the locals helped us out and told where to get off. Not sure why I received some greasies off some of the other local passengers.