Sunday, 6 May 2012

Big toys and big smiles

Well, it's about time we got on with this.  Yesterday we had a grand day out and I got to go to a birthday party, but sadly with no photos (I know, you can't get the staff.)  I got to meet the birthday girl, Alan's Mum who was 94 on Friday - coo that's a lot of birthdays.  I also met Alan's daft brother Ian who still has his leg in plaster three months after he broke it - skiing.  He and Diana, his wife, are very nice and greeted me warmly. (and he didn't call you daft.)  It was a good party but it means that the staff couldn't be bothered to write the next part of the journey.  (Whoa, whoa, whoa.  I was driving for six hours and had my Mum to look after, so I wanted to give your blog my undivided attention.) Well that's alright, but then you watched the rowing this morning, so let's get going.

There are going to be lots of pictures to-day, but only a few of me which is a bit of a shame, but you'll get used to it.

First we went back to Delhi from Mandawa by road.  After many days near the back of the bus we finally got to ride at the front, and we got lots of scary shots through the front windscreen.  The bus in the picture was on our side of the road coming at us quickly and when it veered back to its own side we thought it was going to fall over right in front of us.  Alan asked if he could change his underwear after that incident, though I can't understand why.  He's just a cowardy custard. (You bet!)

Next we saw a three wheeler that wasn't a tuc-tuc.  Like many we saw, the bonnet had fallen off so you could see the little engine - it was on the steering column, so when the driver turned the handlebar the whole thing turned too.  This one had nine people inside and eight on the outside.  I thought it looked like good fun and I wanted a ride, but rotten old Alan wouldn't let me. (Well, little friend, it would have been quite a crush and they were going the wrong way.)  Excuses, excuses.

After a night under sedation in Delhi we had another early start so we could catch the train to Kalka.  This isn't it, because we were on a regular big train, and you've seen me in one of this so it's boring.  When we arrived we had to cross the platform from the great big train to the little train on its narrow gauge rails.  The engine was a bit faded as you can see, but it made a healthy enough noise.

These are some of the colourful carriages for the train, do you like the red Post Office car at the back.
Here I am sitting on the window ledge.  Do you like the new string I have for my key.  It's called a mauli, or kalava, and Hindus tie it to peoples' wrists to bring good fortune to the wearer.  Alan had it tied to his wrist at Mandawa, and he gave it to me.  So now I wear it as a symbol that I've been to India.

 Of course I invited Lily to get into the act. Here we are with Ann in the background holding on to us in case we fell on the track.

As were were waiting, Alan was looking around the station and he came across this brown train.  When he looked closer he found that it was a rescue train!  When he reported back, I wan't sure I should have trusted these people for bringing me somewhere so dangerous.  I was glad of that string. (It is safe enough, that's only there just in case.) Humph, I wasn't convinced.

So off we trundled very slowly - the train takes 4 and a half hours to do 98km - that's about 60 miles.  Alan got vey excited because the door was left open all the way to the top and he could take pictures from it. Of course he was inside the carriage looking out.

He seemed to spend his time with a fixed idiotic grin and bounced around so much it made me feel quite sick.  Lily and I were safely in the bag under Ann's feet where we could look out through the open door without feeling in any danger at all even if the impromptu air conditioning got a bit much later in the trip.
Some of the views were quite spectacular.  On the other side of the valley there were lots of terraces with crops growing on them, and little groups of houses were visible high on the hillsides.  Alan says that people have to walk all the way down to the valley to sell there crops and walk all the way back again with whatever they buy.  That would wear my wee legs out I think.

This is one of bridges we crossed and you can sense just how tight the bends are because the back of the train had only just crossed the bridge when Alan took this picture.  
There are more than 40 bridges and 102 tunnels on the line.  There is another tunnel that's no longer used, but that's a lot of holes in the ground for such a short journey.  This is the entrance to the longest tunnel at Barog and it was scary dark inside for simply ages. (Yes it's 1200 metres long so it must have seemed a long time.)

Alan got off at Barog station with another person called Alan. What a common name, boring I think. (Excuse me!  Who's pounding the keys at your behest?) Yawn.  

Anyway they both came back to the carriage with even bigger idiot grins 'cos the nice engine driver man let them up into his cab so they were able to take his picture.  Here he is, isn't he a nice man and aren't all those dials fascinating.  (I have to say that about the dials to keep him happy.) (Well he is a very nice man and the dials were interesting.)

Trundle de trundle de trundle, on we went and Lily and I snuggled down and had a zizz, because it already had been a long and exciting day.  We even slept through all the screeching the wheels make on the tight bends and the two Alans jumping around. Eventually everyone was getting quite excited (and a bit cold) and that woke us up. It was because we were able to see Shimla.  We all thought we were nearly there, but it still took ages get round to the other side of the valley and into the station.

When we finally got there the station was very crowded, and I didn't believe them when they told us that we'd arrived, but you can see from the sign below that we had indeed.  
If you can't read the little lettering on the sign, it says that Shimla is 2,076m that 6,810ft high, so no wonder it was a bit cool.
So there we have it, an exciting adventure for us all, though we were very glad to get to our hotel and get a bit warmer, and I'll tell you all about Shimla and how it clings to the hillside in my next instalment. 

Bye for now,

P.S.  Ann says there was nothing wrong with her tummy, it was a complete mystery why she fell over.


  1. The staff's typing's a bit off today mate, you really do need to get him trained better. As for the dials. Yeah. Fascinating...


  2. Hi Jock,

    The train ride looks scary, I'm glad Miss Ann had you both held tightly.

    Hope to see more pictures shortly. I know, you have to wait for Alan...we understand completely.

    Heaps of Hugs ♥


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