So Mr.Cannot-Take-A-Hint (see Trains Trains!) was not scary. Weird and annoying? YES.
But not really the scariest character you could meet on an Indian train. Trust me, there are a lot of nominees for that, a rodent inclusive. Let’s talk about the time when I got pee-in-my-pants-if-I-weren’t-so-dehydrated-scared by an old woman, shall we.
NB: If you’re a new reader, well hello there! Sit back and read what I get myself into sometimes when I’m unfortunate enough to make last minute train trips and travel ten hours without pre-booking. You might want to read Part 1 first though, for all the juice on General compartments in Indian trains & the amazing services that they offer.
Wait, what - old woman?!
Those gentle creatures with their white hair and wise faces, always having the funniest of stories to tell and the most sensible of advice to give? No, not them.
Think more along the lines of Cruella, Snow White’s step mother and the like.
So I was on a last-minute trip home. I get into the train and see my coveted single-seat, sit down and realise that I have an old lady sitting opposite me.
I smile but I don’t get one back but anyway, I’m busy getting comfortable in my seat and forget about it. After a while, I stretch my legs and accidentally hit her leg in the process. I immediately apologise but this is where things take a turn for the worse. She looks at me with an angry stare (you know those ones that pierce through the core of your soul wanting to rip it off? Yeah . .) and I uncomfortably look away, slightly confused, wondering if I should say something. Coward that I am, I decide to keep my mouth shut and go back to looking out the window. Out of the corner of my eye I can see that now not only is she still staring at me but she’s started muttering things under her breath as well. Oh Lord. And I can still feel her eyes on mine, boring a hole into my face. If looks could kill.
Then after a couple of minutes, I look back at her. She’s no longer staring at me, but she’s still muttering things, no longer keeping it soft, giving me icy stares every now and then. I look around perplexed at the other passengers beside us – they look just as confused as I am, and some of them give me sympathetic nods. Now I get really freaked out when the muttering doesn’t stop – was this some Indian voodoo shit?! Not that I believe in them but I’d rather not take my chances.
Now would be a good time to describe how she looked. You could see that she wasn’t well off and there’s a part of me that feels guilty about this post. In a disheveled sari, hair unkempt, she was probably blind in one eye and I would have been more sympathetic under normal circumstances. Anyway, I love my single-seat but I decided I didn’t love it that much so the first chance I got after a fellow passenger left, I jumped to the seats beside me as far away from her as I could and ‘phewed’ a sigh of relief. Only until I was positively sure that she had gotten off the train did I dare look that way again. I know, I’m a coward! But can you really blame me?
Now this incident is almost as scary as the time when there was a rat in my compartment. YES. A FRIGGIN’ RODENT. In my compartment. I was just half an hour away from my destination, when suddenly I hear a squeak! Alarmed, I look at my fellow passenger and the dude just grins back at me. I raise both my eyebrows at him to confirm if I had just heard what I thought I heard and he just replies “You better pull up and sit cross legged on your seat; you never know when it can come scurrying over!” WHAT.
This ain’t no Stuart Little movie, dude! Now he’s laughing at me, loving the look of horror on my face and I can’t help but curse both him and the wretched rodent under my breath. Somehow, thirty minutes tick by, way too slowly, with each minute spent dreading whether the little thing could smell my fear.
The train finally stops at the platform and I just jump from my seat and escape into the night happy to be alive. Umm, somewhat like this.
Happy Journeys everyone!