Passing by the Shanties
Part of a two week holiday back blip starting on 14th October...
Our first introduction to the Indian train network saw us catching the 'Darjeeling Mail' sleeper from the massively busy Kolkata station at Sealdah, heading north to New Jalpaiguri. The final destination was Darjeeling, some 60km or so north, climbing into the hills on the Darjeeling 'Toy Train'.
The sleeper was something of an experience, as we found out that you don't get a cabin to yourselves, but rather share a 4 bunk cabin with total strangers. As it turns out we actually ended up sharing the cabin with a married couple and their two young sons! All very nice though and friendly, but the small cabin felt pretty claustrophobic, and it wasn't exactly comfortable...
Switching to the Toy Train, a narrow gauge British era idea, things became, strangely, more pleasant as the small engine rattled our way north. The first 20km were still on the flat plains and we passed various settlements along the way, with people either waving and grinning, or showing total indifference. There wasn't much in the middle. Strange though, the happy reactions, as this train passes by 4 times a day...
There was plenty opportunity, before sampling the beauty of the hills we climbed, to see the poor side to the region, with small towns of shacks clustered together and people washing in filthy rivers, scouring rubbish dumps, and carrying massive loads.
I particularly liked this young lad.
And this is the Toy Train that took us to our first view of the Himalaya...
- Nikon D40