Saturday, March 10, 2007

Birds and Boats

Saturday I pulled myself out of bed around noon to meet Jude for lunch. Today her, Cheingkeih and I were going on a train adventure to try to catch the last migratory flamingos. The train is a notorious entity in India. Old rickety looking trains bring commuters from all over the suburbs to the city. During most weekdays these trains get so packed, they claim there is 16 people per square meter! People hang out by one hand from the open doorways, letting the air keep them cool. Some even are daring enough to ride on top, but this is even more foolish than it sounds. The trains are all electric, so the dangling wires claim more than their share of electrified Indians each year. We pay extra to sit in first class, where on a Saturday it is pleasantly empty enough for us to actually sit.

The surprisingly smooth ride takes us to Sewri, or the Mud Flats, I think it was called. As we venture from the train station, our path quickly changes into dirt streets in a sort of industrial yard. The people we pass look at us like ghosts. The impoverished houses look as though any strong gust of wind my blow them down. Children play in the streets and even swim in a muddy construction hole filled with water. Kids here must have the best immune systems on the planet! It also explains the shorter lifespans... We pass some guys playing cards. It must be there usually spot as it looks like an entire deck of cards has been thrown on the ground. I would bet money you could probably find 51 cards down there. Only takes 1 missing to make a bad deck :) The ground is the best trash can in India!

As we get to the mud flats, we are sorely disappointed that there is not a flamingo in sight. There is however some great looking ships docked at the small pier. We walk out on the pier to see if there is any photo opportunities to make our trek worth. A man on one of the boats motions for us to come aboard. We jump at the chance and walk up a pretty scary looking plank to the deck. Here we get some great views at turns diving into the water to "fish". Chingkeih has a great camera with a telephoto lens and he is able to get some great action shots.

After spending a couple hours there we head back to the train station and head home. Jude and I go back to the mall near where she lives to do a bit of shopping and grab a bite to eat. Then I go home and crash from exhaustion!

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