This is a cross post written by Basho, originally posted on www.rohantime.com
Why this train?
This night on this train? The Calcutta to Delhi train is one of the classic overnight Indian journeys. In India the train service is split into multiple classes. You have the scrum and battle of unreserved third, and frankly that class scares me. Then you have reserved third that is not much better, but at least you don’t need to fight for your seat, not that you would particularly want it when you get it. Then you have 3rd sleeper, which requires a career in Olympic gymnastics to use as each birth has beds stacked in triplicate up the wall. Next comes 2nd AC, which is where we aim for. It is like 3rd, but the beds are in the much more reasonable double bunks and you get a pillow. Or at least you should. It is a very late train tonight when we join at Agra, and the rest of the hundred person carriage is fast a sleep, something that I will not be able to join them in as, (a) the snorers have started in earnest and (b) I don’t have a pillow.
Trying to be as quiet as possible I search the small berth for the missing item. The white sheets are folded in place at the end of the bed, as is the rough and itchy looking blanket, but there is no sign of the pillow.
It was at this point that my Rohan Cloudbase Jacket came to my rescue. You see Rohan gear often comes with a built in “packpocket”. This nifty hidden section allows the entire Jacket to stuff into a small zippered pocket. It is great for packing into small nooks and crannies of ones rucksack saving on space when not in use. It also makes the jacket into a neat little pillow shape. A quick rummage though my rucksack and I have it.
You never know when a something designed for one use will be perfect for another. For some, being able to pack down ones jacket into a pocket would be an over-the-top feature and hardly essential. But for me, it is the little
features that add the most weight when the chips are down. This is what I was telling myself as I tried to sleep on the train, but as I said the snorers had started in earnest and the decibel rating of the man across from me, by far the worst, is like a clap of thunder. What to do? Unzipping the packpocket I extract one arm of the jacket and zip it back up enough to secure it, thus giving me what is essentially a soft headed mace. I concentrate for a moment on what I am going to do and then swing it out across the gap between our two beds. It clonks into his body and in the same motion I snap it back and slam down my head onto it. The man wakes and looks around in confusion and anger, but I am innocently asleep. Then he turns over, mumbles something in Hindi and goes back to sleep. Only this time without snoring.
Success! Yes sir, you can never tell when a small feature can be used for a triple purpose. I will promise to keep innovating if Rohan does!
It’s strange, but the journeys that stay with you, the ones that matter are often the ones that were a trial at the time. Indian transport is a vital part of any visit to India; at once so efficient that web booking is possible and yet so chaotic that you end up packed like sardines. My favourite memory is getting a last minute ticket to Shimla on the mountain toy train and having to be in the locals birth. Making so many new and close (in the on-your-lap sense) friends was a lot of fun. Sometimes it is the barriers, such as language, that bring us together as much as others, such as ticket class, keep up apart.
My advice: see every time you get on a train as a chance, an oportunity, to connect in ways that perhaps, if you had the choice, you wouldn’t select.