Sunday, June 28, 2009

There was a Big Bug

I'd never been on a train before. Not as a valid means of travel, anyway. It's true enough to say that I had it romanticized in my head, influenced by classic scenes from White Christmas or by the quirky style of Darjeeling Limited, but I don't think it's ridiculous that I was excited.
After our tranquil weekend floating down the backwaters of Kerala, we wandered around Alleppey to wait for our train. (We squatted at a hotel, stretching out our lunch with "We'd like some more coffee" and "Maybe we'll have some ice cream...")
As the sun began to descend, the train pulled up along the platform and we boarded. To find our seats, we had to venture up length of the train, toward the engine. Passing between cars, we began to notice the scenery pick up pace.
We found our seats and sank in.
I pulled out a book, intending to distract myself from the tedious length of time ahead of me, but I was drawn to the views just passed my window.
I leaned my forehead against the metal windowpane and let the sights absorb me.
Each passing second displayed a scene that was seemingly tranquil. The railroad cut through the Kerala country side, allowing its passengers to witness the rustic majesty cloaked within.
Small houses with tin roofs, open doors exhibiting warmly-lit rooms, cows tied to trees, cows drinking from troughs, cows lying in the fields. Kids playing cricket, women balancing jugs of water as they waded through the grass, men lighting sacred flames at the altars of their deities. And the green, green, green of it all. The lush forest floor thick with vegetation, with the tall, swaying palm trees shading it from the setting sun.
And every so often, for a moment lasting no longer than a sway or two of the train car, music. A few notes of a flute, or a lady reciting her evening prayers.
As the sun set and India passed me by, the train rocked me to sleep.

A while later, I awoke. Two inches away from my face, there was a huge beetle, about the size of my palm.
I gasped.
Kristi announced that we had a "Bug Situation".
Jean climbed across the aisle, pulled it off the window and threw it into the black night. Thank God for Jean.