The day of Roaches - Journey to Madurai

Madurai Travel Blog

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The train to Villupuram

Gutted we'd made it from the wait list to a full train ticket we reluctantly boarded the local train from Pondicherry to Villupuram. Gutted because we had made desperate plans to escape the horrors of Southern India in favour of a beach in Goa should we fail to get on the train. Of course once we'd made those plans that was secretly what we wanted to happen but good old Sod (Murphy's for you N.Americans) and his law kicked in and on the train we got.

The hard wooden benches wern't the most comfortable but this leg of the journey was only an hour so we could certainly put up with it for that long. The fans had had their polarity reversed so that instead of blowing air down onto us they were sucking it up and fanning the roof.

Adam on the train to Villupuram, armed with bug spray
Then when we finally set off out popped the first cockroach!! Luckily we had a can of spray with us for just such an eventuality so treated the offending bug to a nice blast to take out its central nervous system and over it flopped onto its back nice and dead. Just to be sure we gave the seats and seat backs a little blast to get any of its buddies who may have been lurking there. Big mistake. The smell drove out dozens of them and the next 45 minutes were spent nervously beating back bug attacks. At one point Adam was wearing a nice live cockroach as an ankle charm. Sneaky little devils. Spiders were crawling out, all sorts of other bugs and we were spraying away much to the disgust of the few locals on the train. I guess they like living with cockroaches or something.

In between the despotic charges of the bugs we passed a few locals taking a dump in the fields we decided to start counting how many defecating humans we could see but once we got to three the incessant bug attacks became a priority and we had to give that game up.

Steph on the train to Villupuram, feeling a bit uneasy about the cockroach situation
A very very long 50 minutes passed and at 8.50am we arrived at Villupuram station. Our train was due at 10.30 which gave the local population plenty of time to stare at us. One older woman in the full on bedsheet get up was particularly bad until Adam locked gaze and just stared her down, she kept coming back for more but we kept glaring back with our dirtiest look possible and she was seriously disgruntled, but eventually we broke her.  

At 10.40 our train arrived which was great as we were half expecting some sort of horrendous delay. We boarded our carriage and struggled through the very narrow corridor with our bags to find some guy sitting on our seats. He didn't make a move to let us in so a quick sideswipe with the backpack to the head and aside he goes.

Casualties of the train ride
Sometimes the old passive aggressive works wonders. That said as the seat / bunk opposite was occupied by a gentleman snoring the journey away he still wanted to sit on our bunk as he was on the upper bunk opposite. So we decided to have a kip to and forcibly evicted him. This second train we'd paid for what is known as 2AC which is an airconditioned carriage of sleepers with two bunks on each side. It was much better than the first train, thankfully cockroach free but still not a patch on the train in Thailand and only marginally better than the one in China and Vietnam. Still with five hours to go we settled down with our books, backgammon and food. Because it was a sleeper carriage the windows are quite small so we didn't even really get to appreciate much of the passing scenery.
Another casualty of the train ride
No count the poo games on this one!!

Miraculously we arrived in Madurai almost on time and with a smattering of other westerners we headed off down the platform. We found ourselves on point duty as the others lagged behind using us as bait for the evil autorickshaw and taxi mafia. Cunningly we adopted a new plan to deal with the menace. At the first shout Adam nodded to one of the drivers and he assumed we wanted to take up his offer of an autorickshaw so the swarm of brown clad scum parted and we walked through as the frenzy really kicked off behind us and a real roar of shouts went up as the main pack of prey emerged from the station. Our smiling fool was all smug with himself until we got to his contraption and just kept on walking. The look on his face was a true picture, he was furious and bewildered at the same time. We laughed and laughed and waved our way off chuckling at the thought of him going hungry. Oh good times.

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The train to Villupuram
The train to Villupuram
Adam on the train to Villupuram, a…
Adam on the train to Villupuram, …
Steph on the train to Villupuram, …
Steph on the train to Villupuram,…
Casualties of the train ride
Casualties of the train ride
Another casualty of the train ride
Another casualty of the train ride
Thats a bit better; Adam reading …
That's a bit better; Adam reading…
photo by: Stevie_Wes