Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mangalore and the Konkan Railway

Atop a huge bluff, we were met by a driver at the Mangalore airport, where we wound down the hill on our way to the Gateway hotel for one night to catch our breath. All this real life experience can be exhausting, requiring an evening of room service, hot showers and some mindless television to recharge our batteries.

Refreshed by morning, we set off for the wharf to do a bit of exploring. While out, we were stopped by the police, curious about our mix-matched family. Once we chatted for a bit, our new friends asked us to stay and sit awhile, full of questions about the USA. We respectfully declined and continued on our way. The sights and smells were a bit much for Devi, who at knee height was getting the full brunt of it included exhaust and dust, so spent much of the afternoon plugging her nose as she walked along. The smell of fresh fish in the heat can do this to a girl.

Soon after we made our way to the rail station and boarded the Matsyaganda Express headed for Goa. Six hours on a train went by in a flash as we enjoyed the incredible scenery up the coast and the company in our 2 tier AC coach. Parbal, the Mangalorian man across from me was a retired assistant to the ambassador of Greece. Well traveled, he was a wealth of knowledge about the area and a great help to us in keeping track of where we were on the map. A grandmother with her daughter, a young mother herself were traveling with her 5 month old daughter, Ahna, who kept us entertained with an Ipod filled with old bollywood songs that they all sang to as we swayed along. The corridor was a steady stream of snacks for sale - samosa, veg sandwiches, chai tea, spicy chips, some sort of broth in a cup and various drinks. It is interesting to see how regulars make themselves comfortable for these trips. Shoes are kicked off, full meals are splayed out, music is turned on and everyone makes themselves at home for their trips. Our co-passengers were in route to Mumbai and would not reach their destination until mid morning the next day.

The signal was given for us to basically jump off as the train came to a 5 minute halt in the complete darkness. Parbal made certain it was the Canconan stop. Once off the train, an auto rickshaw driver grabbed our bags and we were bouncing along the narrow road toward The Nest at Palolem Beach in Goa, our stop for the next 4 days.

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Beth Shepherd said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who takes pictures of squatting toilets! Reading your journey with baited breath.

Anonymous said...

Julie -- hi from Sunset -- see my earlier comment... to get health insurance active for Treya the company is wants a copy of "legal" paperwork (adoption, guardianship) and a date. Fax to Sunset: 253.437.0330. Counting down the hours now till you meet Treya. Luv DD