D was wearing a baby carrier, had a backpack on his back, a diaper bag slung around his shoulders and two groaning suitcases in each hand. He was taking the steps two at a time. I was right behind, running with a puzzled Bobo in my hips and my handbag swinging behind me. We stopped on top of the stairs and took a quick look around the railway station and spotted Platform 3. Then it was back to running. We reached Platform 3 and jogged alongside the sedately parked train, dodging the crowd scattered along the train.
I am never ever late for trains or flights.
So, how did we get here?
It all began when we had to go to Andhra Pradesh for a wedding and it involved a car and train trip while going and a train journey on the way back.
Bobo did the first leg in the car quite well, alternatively sleeping and alternatively looking out. We did our scheduled stop at D’s uncle’s house and set off to the station as planned. Except as we left, D’s uncle looked worried and told us that the train would leave earlier than what we had assumed.
Thus all the huffing and puffing. This turned out to be useless exertion since the train left at exactly the time we had thought it.
Once we had recovered our breath and shoved away our luggage into various nooks and crannies, we decided we needed plenty of sustenance to get over this traumatic experience (and ignored the fact that had we been fitter, we would have not cut such sorry figures). So began the gastronomic journey into Indian Railway’s culinary offerings, starting with hot and peppery tomato soup.
Bobo, meanwhile began to attract attention.
Indians love kids. Everyone wanted to make faces at Bobo and play with him. (I also think that Bobo is really cute with his silky hair and big eyes. But that is probably just smitten-mom-speak). In return, Bobo put up quite a show, shooting dazzling smiles at perfect strangers. Before I knew it, one of our co-passengers grabbed him and started showing him a movie on her giant phone. I am ok with strangers making faces at Bobo but not really holding him. Besides, I could not think of a polite way of telling her that we thought he was too young to be watching TV, let alone the crap she was showing him. Finally I took him away and informed her that it was time for his dinner.
It was indeed and he ate his packed food. The station rolled in a little later and we had done quite ok. Hopefully Bobo shares my love for train journeys in India.
For the return leg, we reached the station 45 minutes ahead of schedule to take into account both the actual timing and the guestimates provided by various relatives.
However, there is such a thing as reaching too early with a baby who can’t walk yet. D walked around with Bobo. Then I walked around, holding Bobo in my baby carrier.
If I had been moonwalking, I could not have attracted more unabashed, open-mouthed attention. Everyone in the station paused to watch the baby carrier. And to think, I had specially remembered to pack proper Indian clothes to make sure I did not attract any attention.
Finally the train came, our coach stopped three coaches away from where it was supposed to stop and we repeated the running episode all over again.
We reached our seats and the first thing I spotted was a cockroach. One of things I wanted to do with this trip was to give Bobo a chance to build immunity and get used to Indian conditions. We were clearly getting more than we had bargained for.
I immediately cleared up all the food junk left behind by co-passengers and then cleaned the entire area with wet wipes. Then we spread out a blanket on the seat for Bobo and let him play and watched in resignation as he lovingly licked the blue chrome seat covers.
Yup, we were going to be building lots of immunity…