100 Days in India Project

Dog dozing in the sunlight on some steps whilst a man stands behind in the shadows.

40/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 5 – Food Delivery

I am a life-long migraine sufferer. I get them all the time (in fact, I have headaches nearly every day) but I try not to let them interfere with my life any more than I have to. They manifest themselves at random times, but I have come to learn that they will especially arrive when you least want them to. So, true to form, after a fitful night’s sleep on the Marudhar Express train, and a very long day of travel ahead of us, that oh-so-familiar burning pain started behind my left eye. Mildly annoying at first, then every glint of sunlight, every loud bang of a door, every stress-inducing thought I had of our missing documents and the impact of the delays all accumulated in my brain, dialling up the severity of my headache until and I was left in severe pain and feeling nauseous.

At home I take some tablets, grab a drink (full-sugar Coke is great) and have a sit down somewhere peaceful. Going for a walk is sometimes helpful too. Aside from the tablets, I had neither a drink of any kind whatsoever, nor the opportunity to relax or walk anywhere. So, when you’re stuck on a very, very long train trip and there is no food or drink available what do you do? You ask the young guy in the flip-flops to go and get you something of course (or at least get your wife to ask him).

Given his role on the train, his choice of minimal footwear didn’t strike me as ideal but he was obviously well practiced and it didn’t seem to hold him back from the task in hand. As the train approached a station you would simply go over to him whilst he was waiting by the door, his head full of orders in his mental order book. You could tell him what you wanted him to get for you, pass him a few rupees and long before the train had fully stopped he was leaping out of the door like a whippet to scavenge what he could. Since the train was only travelling about 5 mph anyway he could jump off as soon as the door aligned with the end of the platform, overtaking it and hastily placing orders.

He usually appeared again just as the train was pulling away, loaded down with people’s snack requests. He passed Fiona the water and bananas she’d asked for but refused to take any money in return – all he wanted for his efforts was a bit of what he had just purchased for us, a banana.

Whilst I lay in a semi-coma in bed life continued on around me. Every time I woke there was a fresh snack or a replacement drink next to my head on the bed and I slowly recovered through the morning. Solo travel probably isn’t for me – I need my nurse wife.

Intended Arrival Time : 0630
Current delay: 14 hours

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