On the evening of the 22nd, we had just finished packing for Hyderabad and beyond. Our tickets said the train station we were leaving on was “SBC” and Swathi said this meant Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station, and were going to hire an auto. We walked down the alley to the main road, laden with our two backpacks, a daypack1, and my camera, a Canon 5D mk1. It took some time but we finally flagged down an auto that was willing to take us to the station for ₹80. The three other autos we caught were trying to charge almost double.
Once we got to the station, Swathi headed to the ticket counter to find our seat assignments when the cashier told us our train was at another station; Cantonment’s code was “BNC” and we needed to be at Bangalore City Railway Station! We had about 45 minutes to hire another auto and fight traffic to try to catch the train. There were several autos waiting for passengers outside the station, but haggling over price would be difficult. Once the drivers were aware of where we needed to be and when, we had little options. We found a driver and agreed upon a price of ₹200 to take us to the other side of town. He proved his worth by taking us safely to our destination in record time, expertly maneuvering between cars, autos, and motorcycles, dodging potholes and pedestrians.
In the end, we did make the train and found our private, first class, air conditioned sleeper compartment. There were four beds in the compartment, and we were the first to arrive. “Durgadas”, a middle-aged businessman, dealing in kitchen accessories, soon joined us and sat down on the lower bunk which faced the two of us. I said “hello” and smiled at him, trying to break the silence and maybe make the next 12 hours a little more pleasant. He could not speak English, so spoke to Swathi in Hindi. He was a very strange man and stared at us flatly and unwaveringly with his mono-expressionist frown. I had Swathi ask if I could take his picture and he consented to have it done. Just as I had set down the camera, he asked if he could get a picture with Swathi. I encouraged the idea and she sat next to him, but not after some hesitation. I took the picture, and then he asked if he could get a picture with me, so I handed the camera off to Swathi. Here are the results:
Our backpacks were my Osprey 34 liter and Swathi’s Quechua 40 liter, and Quechua 20 liter ↩