The 30-minute late train was slowly moving on to the platform, it was long it had over 18 carts. — Where is the sleeper class? — We quickly realized that our coach was further down, so we ran and pushed through our way. Everybody was in a rush to get on the moving train to Udaipur.
We hopped in and started to maneuver through the crowded couch to find out seats. We located the seat number but no free seats; a chubby family eating Rotis occupied our space.
—Sorry, but seat umber 41 is not here. — One of the young girls tried to convince us that it didn’t exist. But it was there a fat woman was pretending she was sick was sleeping on it. We made fuss and made them move, sat down and began to observe our surroundings.
We were the only foreigners in the coach and probably in the entire sleeper class. What is a sleep class? It’s a non-AC wagon with three tier beds that fold out for the night. It’s smelly, dirty with plastic seats and bars in the windows. It’s also the most diverse class on the train, you can find the poor, the rich, students’ families and freeloaders trying to scam.
All eyes were on the toddies, so we stared back and watched as the coach was filling up passing the capacity. Our space for three was becoming space for 4 and 5. Standing space was getting spicy and getting ready for some armpit marination. The over crowding was making an impossible bathroom though or run.
— Iza, are you ready for this ride? An overnight 12-hour ride? — I asked and smiled looking at all the staring eyes.
In no time, a big fuss and argument started happening when two people were fighting for the same seat. This was the first time I have seen a girl raise her voice and fight for something in India. Actually she was good, damn good, she won, and the older man took off in search for another seat. But it took a while for him to give in, and it took the entire coach involvement. We didn’t understand a word, but we understood the argument, entertainment before the night.
Eventually I couldn’t hold my pee and I started to make my way to the toilet that was located at the end of the cart, stepping over sitting people, and ducking under smelly armpits I made it to the toilet. The toilet was pissed on, shit on, and I saw the moving tracks through the hole. — Ughhh, disgusting.
When I retuned Iza was swamped with more people, I barely saw her face. Colorful ladies, who didn’t care that I paid for the seat, occupied my seat; I kindly asked them to get the fuck up and move. I opened the bed and it was time to sleep. Sure, they moved, for a second. After laying down the little space that was left on my bed, they jumped into it and pushed themselves into me.
I couldn’t say no, sharing is caring, so I shared my space with a family of three who was freeloading for the ride. People were everywhere, on the floor, double up sitting, lying down and “Chai, Chai guy” was squeezing through selling Chai.
The train was rocking, the farts were sounding and the lights went out. I closed my eyes and I tuned out. In no time a sharp movement jerked my body and I opened my eyes.
— Where is everybody? I freaked. The train was empty; Iza and I were the only ones left. The train was still moving, I quickly glanced at out belongings they were still locked to the bench and my shoes were still there. I got up to the toilet and I calmed down when I saw few other random people sleeping.
— Where are we? Did we miss out stop? But we didn’t we were still hours away from Udaipur. What happened to all those people? Was it all a dream? Impossible, I still smelled them.
I closed my eyes and went back to sleep to the rocking of the train.