Aug 7, 2011

"Oh Jaan, I'm in India!": (2) Moving north

"... I forgot.

When I thought I had seen what Delhi's all about in my first visit, I forgot that I was still a guest looking at Delhi from the outside -- I would have the craziest adventure and nastiest experience in my trial to dive in Delhi, but I would still have my nights pampered in the highly secured and luxurious 5-star hotel... I was still a guest..

.. but tonight, I'm a backpacker with my sleeping bag ready, but hesitating -- The real scenes of Delhi somehow makes me feel naked, I'm feeling unsecured feeling discomfortable feeling depressed..

...but I'm also feeling real.

...I was still a guest back then.. now I'm a wanderer now, in Delhi, in India.. "

--- 13 Nov 2010... 2114hr. Old Delhi Train Station, Platform #10.


I flipped to the next page of my little notebook, a blank page. I felt like writing something but the chill of the night froze my thought.

It was like 2 a.m., I guessed. The engine was rumbling and Coco was snoring, both were loud enough to keep me awake. The train was moving northward, heading to Kalka our transit station for the Toy Train -- we did not have a route map of this train so someone needed to stay alert on 'when should we get off from this train'.

I flipped back to the last note I wrote before departure, and the scenes we saw on the platform just flashed back -- the homeless family who slept almost at the edge of the platform, the little kid who pooed on the railway and picking up anything and put into his mouth, a mother who was care-less enough to a dog that came and shared their food...

.... and also a bunch of young Indian men that told me that.. erm... "you're beautiful".



5 a.m.. Kalka.

The famous Toy Train was already sitting on the rail waiting for her passenger. Depature time is 5:30am.

Red in color, reminded me of the little toy train that we played in our childhood. I think she might look more gorgeous if she's shinier and less dusty, maybe it's the blue ambient of Kalka's dawn that toned down her reddish pride.

Owh of course we posed. Ijol and I had developed our very own winter-fashion 'sense' by only wearing what we had and using what we brought in the bag that was not left behind by our dearest Malaysia Airlines.

Ijol was wrapping around his neck with my checked kain pelekat and that gave him somehow a laid-back urban look -- in a way, I mean..

I managed to grab Malaysia Airlines' purple blanket and that definitely helped cover me up from the chill in north India -- SO... with that big sheet of greyish-purple and my thermal buff in red colour, PLUS my favourite earthy yellow t-shirt -- I think I looked like a gypsy-beggar, if not a pervert, or an unsuccessful mascot of Malaysia Airlines.


I was writing my journal note when the boys approached me. One of them got very close to me and tried to read what I was writing. I raised my head and smiled to him.

"Where are you from?" he asked.

"Malaysia." I smiled. The conversation kicked-off, his friends started to gather around me, speaking and whispering in their own language.

"Are you writing in Malaysia language? " he pointed at my notes. The background whispers seemed discussing on the same thing.

"No.. erm.. this is Chinese words.." I started to worry. He'll get confused Oh he's already confused.

"...erm... so this is not Malaysia words... and u write Chinese..? " he frowned. I knew it.

"yeah... I know Chinese too --- hey where are you guys going?" I tried to switched topic, the crowd was getting bigger. I felt like I was a celebrity.

"We are students.. going to our college.. " he explained, and mentioned the name of the place that I couldn't recall. The crowd nodded, I think they recognized the place's name hence they interpreted well.

I 'ahh~~' and nodded out of understanding and courtesy. One of his friends was pushed by the others towards the young man I was talking with, and made him whispered to him. Then the young man smiled and did the translation:

"They think you are beautiful."

*gulp gulp* WTH.


Our plan of taking the Toy Train ride moving north before sunrise just paid off! We witnessed the sun light piercing through the forests while traveling in the nostalgic Toy Train. And amazingly, the slow moving train, like 22km/hour, was actually climbing uphill..

...and as the train was actually moving towards another weather zone, the change of vegetations is obviously observed: pine trees, ficus, oak, mapple woods.. The fresh dew of the forest was awakening, but not for Coco.... and ohh.. Amie was looking also at the outcrops of the mountain range, and pouring out loud her geological interpretation of tectonic movement and bla bla bla....

Breakfast was served in the train, and the ride stopped at the picturesque Barog for 30 minutes for food loading, and of course for tourist, pictures loading.

The most enjoyment of the ride was definitely the scenery, the clean fresh and chilling air, the Toy Train itself, and the ride. And after some hiccups and discomforts that happened at the very beginning of our journey, the toy train ride just soothed our edgy nerves -- And I think this was very important for us to recompose the positive anticipations for the trip, as ahead of us, there are still many unknowns..

... ..erm, talking about unknowns, at the time four of us were happily posing sakan in Barog ..our accommodation in Shimla that I supposed to arrange and get it done, was still ..erm... undone...

*gulp gulp gulp*