India - Day 6
After breakfast and a devotion we all assembled in the foyer of our hotel - "The Fame" - as we waited for our transport back to Berhampore Train Station. In the first load four ladies and all the luggage was taken and dropped off outside the main entrance. The second load brought the rest of the crew. We wheeled our bags through merchants selling grapes, oranges and aloo (potato) snacks. No one goes hungry on a train trip in India!
Our train trip today took longer but we travelled in First Class. This meant there was much less hustle and bustle, and those of us who were still recovering from "the bug" could lie down on a sleeper and rest. The train snaked through a different set of villages from the first train trip, with a feast of sights (marigold fields), sounds (the train brakes being applied sounded like gun shots) and smells (a blend of Indian life) the whole way.
When we finally got off the train in Kolkata, it was like the crowds at the Australia Day Fireworks - the only difference was this happens everyday in Kolkata! A huge surge of people shoulder to shoulder spewed through the front doors of the station. Amazingly, the crowd parted around a sleeping dog at the entrance, as it poured into the waiting taxis, rickshaws and tuk tuks.
Our mini-bus was waiting for us, and after loading ourselves and our gear we soon learnt that it was "traffic jam time"! The driver wasn't kidding! It took us over an hour to cross town to our next stop, a freedom organisation.
We were warmly greeted by two of the volunteers who gave us cool water and sweet biscuits to boost our energy levels. After a very interesting power point presentation describing the work this organisation does, we bid our farewells and headed to our hotel.
It was still "traffic jam time". The advantage of this mainly stop-start trip is you get more time to read some of the amusing business names. Also, we figured out that all the honking the drivers do is not due to impatience, but more to warn other road users that they are coming through. It's a way of being polite - a very noisy way.
An hour later we reached our hotel, dropped off our bags and then headed out to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner - for most of us, it was the first proper meal in a couple of days. With our tummies full we all realised how tired we were - sensory overload again! So, it was back to the hotel to pack our bags in readiness for another big day tomorrow.
We spent a few moments talking about the highlights and lowlights and it was unanimous that we all felt so grateful for the love and support each member of the team demonstrated to one other at different times during the days of sickness, out of love and concern for each other's well being.
Sharing our carriage. Yes this is first class!
There's lots to buy on the train and yes, some of us bought one!
Trams are part of the traffic fun!