No longer strapped into a car seat, Paul takes it all in – –
Abe Pachikara, Copyright 2005 (click to enlarge image)
The India trip presented a fantastic opportunity to try out quite an array of transportation for two reasons: 1) both our boys have a fascination with any manner of transport; 2) compared to being tied down by a 5 point harness, in a rigid car seat, in the belly of a mini-van, 3rd world travel is about as untethered (and therefore exhilarating) as it gets.
The first real chance occurred one Saturday morning, when my Uncle Jose dropped my 2 ½ year old Paul and myself at the local train station. We caught the “Chennai Mail” as it passed through Kottayam (coming from none other than Chennai and zipping towards Trivandrum) and jumped off 30 minutes later in Changanacheri. After a brief wait, we got on board a local train heading back to Kottayam.
For Paul that was all that was needed. The relatively brief interaction provided enough to chew on without physically taxing his constitution. He was: mystified by the train’s inside (as all the books had only schooled him on the outside); enthralled by the sights; and intrigued in particular by the sounds and smells as tropical trains have portals with bars rather than the sealed panes of glass you see on U.S. and Canadian trains.
We also had the terrific luck on getting on at the station where a couple of thousand Hindu pilgrims disembarked as part of an annual trek to Sabarimala (http://www.sacredsites.com/asia/india/sabarimala.html). They left the train adorned in flowers, providing me with a truly vivid example of the prominent role that religion plays in daily life of this nation.