As I try to remind myself as to why I’m here and why all this is happening, I hear someone coming down the isle screaming at the top of his voice
” Kutlit umlit”
First I thought it was the conductor, then I take a look and I see this guy carrying about 5 different things in his hands I would swear he has maybe four hands, but what on earth is ‘Kutlit umlit?
As he passes by I get it his selling something that looks nothing like a cutlet or an omelette but according to the general masses of India that is a ‘Kutlit n umlit’ and you not argue with them at all.
I found that rather amusing but I was too sad to even smile. As the trainh takes off in a very very ummm … Very slow pace the noise begins to go down some what, and yet another chanting coming from the isle this time however it sounded different
” bolo chai bolo chai”
With my limited understanding of Hindi I knew it meant
” say tea say tea” basically speak up who wants tea, Anwar insisted we get some, I very reluctantly agreed to a cup.
Let’s go back a little to what the Rajdhani is all about and what Firoz Pur Express is all about, If Rajdhani gets you to your destination in 4 hours, Feroz Pur Express will take 12 hours, Rajdhani was class, with red and cream decor it only stops at main stations and all trains make way for it to pass, the name says it all RAJdhani….
Meals are served, there’s showers etc
On Firoz Pur Express its known as a “local” to the locals or non a.c, it stops at every station even if it be the smallest station, about 5 of the stations we stopped at looked literally haunted.
I begin feeling abit sleepy and decide to make myself a little comfortable, I take off my shoes and pull my legs up and slide my window open and try to get used to the constant railway sound.
I ask Shafiq how long is this trip on this train, Shafiq says ” kumaskum chobees gante”, at that point I wished I hadn’t known any Urdu or Hindi. Because this is going to be the longest 24 hour train journey, and Shafiq been an Indian and he used the word “kumaskum” which mean ‘more or less’ so I’d need to add another 5 hours to that.
My eyes fall on this dude who is clad in just orange robes head to toe who looks like he hadn’t bathed in almost all his life his hair was dirty and huge beard and markings on his face, then I realized its a pundit basically a Hindu molvi.
It was then that I thought I’d seen enough and decides to venture around the rest of our 1960 ride, I walked down the isle, people screaming at the top of their voices to the person seated right next to them I just couldn’t understand it. I came to the door and it was wide open, I thought “this is cool I’ll just chill here for abit” I start taking note of the beauty enroute and astonished to find that India has such a high population yet there’s so much bare land, culture is taken very seriously, I notice in a distance women clad in brightly colored dresses carring huge baskets on their heads and and laughing and joking as they along with their chores, and it’s gets me thinking that back home we have all the luxury all the facilities all the comforts yet we complain and are always miserable, and here were lighting a simple fire is not just a click of the button but rather going right back to gathering wood, but amidst all this these people are so content.
” what is your good name ?”
Is someone talking to me? I turn around and there is this young lad with oily black healthy hair and a precise side part.
“what is your good name ?”
” oh I’m Ali,”
‘what is your good name’ who says that these days? I ask myself.
“and you are?”
” Prakash Mehra”
The lad replies… After a moment of silence,
He asks : ” where do you live?”
In a thick Indian accent, which sounds like ‘hindlish’ thats when your Indian tongue is so strong it almost doesn’t sound like English.
me:” I’m from South Africa”
Prakash “oh Africa , you peolple are wery wery far from civilization”
me:“excuse me ?!!!!
Prakash:“yes yes you valk vith the lions no?”
Whilst bobbling his head with a huge smile, exposing is tobacco damaged teeth.
To be continued ….