100 Days in India Project

Pencil sketch of two police officers aboard a train in India

41/ 100 The Marudhar Express Part 6 – Sketching the Train Guard

Whilst I was laid in my train bunk in a bit of a migraine haze, not feeling great at all, Fiona was off socialising and keeping herself very busy, in between ordering food and drinks from the wee guy on the train.

Wherever we travel Fiona likes to take a sketchbook along with her. Inside it she collects scraps of paper, receipts, tickets, writings and, of course, her own sketches. Throughout this eventful train journey aboard the Marudhar Express, which was by now so delayed that there wasn’t even any point trying to work out when we would arrive, Fiona had regularly popped back to the cabin to see how I was. For the past hour or so that afternoon though, she hadn’t returned. I set off to find her and make sure she was alright and it didn’t take long to see what the problem was.

She had been sat with her Seawhite sketchbook, recording views out of the window, parts of the train itself and, as usual, some of the other passengers. She normally draws all of this surreptitiously so I was quite surprised to see her sitting directly opposite the train guard who was a very officious looking man wearing a military style uniform with a large moustache. Moustaches are very important in India it would seem. The more important the man or, at least, the more important he considers himself to be, the larger his moustache.

Seemingly one of the lower ranking guards (he was still growing his moustache) had sheepishly asked Fiona if she could draw him in his cagoule, which she did. But then he wanted a version to keep for himself so she had to draw a second copy. He then went further back in the train and appeared with a second guard who also wanted a portrait for himself. Then the big chief himself turned up.

Not only did he want his portrait drawn but he had certain specific conditions. Poor Fiona had to emphasise the stars on his epaulettes, make sure his uniform was just so and, of course, she definitely had to ensure that his facial hair was looking as grand as possible. Making his moustache a little bigger was actively encouraged. Apparently he was not shy of making suggestions for alterations either. Poor Fiona was exhausted by the time he finally left.

Intended Arrival Time : 0630
Current delay: 16 hours

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