India/Nepal at 25mph (or less) – Part 4 A small train station
Okay, its probably not often that a small train station becomes a highlight to a trip but this one certainly did. We were traveling between two national parks and had to catch a train in the small town of Pipariya. When we arrived at the station we were alerted that the train was going to be 3 hours late but there was a “potential” for one coming sooner. Since we wanted to be ready for all options we went to our assigned platform – my wife and I going over an elevated stairway to cross the tracks while our guide and our luggage went down and across the tracks. While that seemed unusual at first, we found that was the normal way that the locals crossed the tracks. During our 3+ hours in the station, we saw children, holy men, and even 80 year old women (dressed in saris) cross the active train tracks. This first photo shows that they weren’t the only ones on the tracks – there were dozens of goats on the tracks who would just move over to the other tracks as the trains would come (sometimes speeding) through.
The other thing that struck us a little unusual was that the goats weren’t the only animals occupying the station. Here’s a picture of Dee waiting alongside of another of the locals waiting for his train…The interesting thing was that this cow was on a platform between two sets of sunken tracks – I still don’t know how she got there.
….and what would a train station be without a monkey or two? I first saw this guy on the tracks but then he came up on the platform and enjoyed a handout of crackers from one of the young girls in the station.
Of course what would a train station be without people rushing around trying to catch their train. In India style though, the men are always loaded down with baggage or other goods and the women are always spectacular in their colors…..
I should probably mention that while we were in Pipariya, every train going in the opposite direction (to where we were going) were PACKED! Every spare inch appeared to be occupied with literally dozens of people hanging off the boarding platforms of each train. Those trains were all headed towards the Kumbh Mela – the largest religious gathering on the planet. The “main event” of the Kumbh Mela was attended by approximately 80 million people this year. Here’s a look at one of the groups of people waiting for a train going in that direction – remember, these folks are waiting to get on a train already packed to the ceiling with fellow pilgrims!
In any case, I hope that you get the impression that there was not a boring moment in the 3 hours we waited on the platform. There was always another scene, another group of people, or another “happening” to keep us occupied. We also got to better know our guide during that wait (and the train ride afterwards) which set the stage for the rest of the trip. It has turned into one of our fondest memories of this incredibly memorable trip. Before I leave, I’ve got to share just one more Monkey picture. Immediately before our train arrived, I saw a baby monkey walking along a fence while its mother was walking along on an iron railing above him. They were not quite in line at the time but I thought it looked like they would “synch up” right in front of me. Luckily, this was the result….