AUGUST 25TH / TRAVEL DAY 235
I observed through my zombie like state the scene around me. Shadows jumping onto the moving train as it glided down the tracks, thin bodies blanketing every inch of spare floor space in the stations, just a tiny layer of fabric between their bones and the concrete below. Young children up past their bedtime begging for small coins and chasing the scabbed stray dogs who were also begging from the crowds of humans.
I was way out of my league and after 9 months of negotiating this wonderful continent solo I found myself desperately searching in the sea of bodies for another traveler but the only eyes looking back at me were the curious and penetrating stares of local Indians.
A woman held my arm and spoke in soft hindi as she placed a single hand on my head, the gesture was a relief after the pushes and shoves I’d received from the relentless ladies in our designated queue for ticket purchases at India’s longest train station ~ Gorakhpur. The segregation was as alien to me as my pale hair and skin was to them so I initially joined the chaos in one of the several ticket queues occupied by men, only to be abruptly pointed to the one single lane available for us females.
Eventually leaving with a ticket in my hand I had no idea what to look for when my departure time rolled around. It took three different answers before I clarified the train was at 10.40pm (a 6 hour wait) and would depart from platform 2. I paid just over £1 for the 7 hour journey to Varanasi – named the dirtiest city in India, my first stop in the sub-continent.
Thick lines of black soot settled under each nail within an hour of being in the country and I soon came to realise this place is a world of it’s own.
I’m in INDIA! Follow it all on Instagram daily!