After we had been on the train for about three hours, the sun slipped below the horizon and darkness began to settle in. It would take approximately 18 hours to make the 535 mile trip and the night would be 12 hours long. I shot this dim view of the dusky mountains beyond, through the window reflection of Bhanu and a man traveling in the same compartment as us.
Without daylight coming through the windows, the light inside the train became very dim and I found it difficult, often impossible, to grab a focus and hang onto it. Motion blur was a given. It's okay, though, because as I have noted before, life is a blur, anyway. Sometimes, feeling matters more than sharpness.
Two children escaped from the next compartment and came running into ours. We were all happy to see them.
Sometimes, just when they are feeling loose and free and find themselves among strangers who are delighted to see them, children get scooped up and taken back to their seats.
Then they slip away again, to delight us all.
Sujitha and grandfather Natarajan. Suji and grandpa Nats.
Nats and Suji - with Manu at our destination to receive the call of his bride.
I started to get hungry.
Vasanthi had anticipated hunger. Vasanthi enjoys chasing hunger away. She had cooked for us all before leaving home. I do not know if there was a diner car. Vendors came through selling coffee, tea and snacks, but not meals. Even if they had, their meals would not have compared to Vasanthi's.
I sure would like to see this restaurant in Anchorage:
Vasanthi's South Indian Cuisine.
Right now, she is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My niece, Khena and husband Vivek have a brand new baby daughter, whom they named Thora Uma Marie Iyer - Thora being my mother's name. I will call her, "Little Mother."
Vasanthi is there to help care for her.
Suji gives some love to her dad.
Then she teases Grandpa Nats. That's love, too.
Murthy is a very smart guy. I figured that out when I first met him.
The henna on Suji's hands is darkening swiftly. The process is a little slower on her arms.
Now Suji drops in to share the love with her Uncle Murthy and Aunt Vasanthi. I have still not totally shed my jet lag. I find myself growing very tired.
I can't remember precisely, but it seems like it was about 10:30 PM when my traveling companions began settlling down on their bunks to sleep, so I did the same. My bunk was the one by the window, where Suji had sat with me earlier in the trip, and Ganesh after that.
With the curtains drawn, I was surprised at how dark it was in the bunk. Above me, I could the tiniest of lights, so I took this slow speed picture of it but it didn't really work. I could have tried harder, but I felt extremely tired so I gave up, closed my eyes and soon fell asleep.
About 1:00 AM, I heard my curtain get drawn and then felt someone shake me roughly. I opened my eyes and made out the dim figure of a man and woman. The train was stopped at a station. They had just got on. The man asked me what number my bunk was. He thought I was in his bunk. He wanted me to get out of it.
But I wasn't. I was in my bunk. Murthy, got up, set him straight and then the man and the woman moved on.
After that, I never fell back into a good sleep. There was no fan above me, but somehow, the sound of the train moving down the tracks - always a comforting sound for me - now struck the same note of bitter pain as did the fans.
I would manage to drop off to sleep for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. In one short period, I dreamed of Soundarya. She materialized before me and smiled brightly. She looked happy, full of life. She told me she had decided to continue her life after all, to revive her many dreams, start her training institute and make a good go of things.
Damn, I was happy!
The dream continued beyond that for awhile, but that's all I can remember.
At some ridiculous hour, still too early to be getting up, a vendor came by, selling coffee.
I couldn't sleep, anyway, so I had him pour me a cup.