Tag Archives: trains

Trains next door add to our family fun.

In my own neighborhood.

People have written me from Idaho and Virginia, asking if we are being flooded. No, there is no danger close by, even though it rained for 24 hours straight, as my housemate Susan told me. I had driven north to Pippin’s for a couple of nights to be with various relations who were gathering to see Kate’s family. Fifteen of us ate and gabbed and hugged, and there was the necessary Settlers of Catan game, though it was short and small this time. Children ran and squealed.

It rained up there, too, and on my drive up and back. But not constantly… we were able to go out the first evening and put pennies on the railroad tracks next door; only minutes later a train came by, and then the hunt for flattened metal pieces began. In spite of the tape, which usually prevents them getting knocked off before the weight of the train comes down on them, the smashed coins are often carried a ways down the track and it requires a practiced eye to find them.

It was the shortest walk I’ve ever done while at Pippin’s, but of course there were interesting sights to see, because she was with me pointing them out. Who would have recognized this brown lumpy thing as a mushroom? She said that once she came upon people excavating  one for eating, but she hasn’t researched them.

Indoors, there are four cats again, including a new kitten named Fred. (Pecos disappeared and may have been eaten by a larger animal…?) Rio has a reputation for being “useless,” a label that in this household I don’t think has ever been applied to anyone else. But she offered her beautiful self to be petted by Rigo. Ivy and Jamie showed me the seed collections they had made for their homeschool science.

Kate’s husband Tom is very romantic about trains and loves visiting this place that is hard up against the railroad right of way. After everyone else had gone home or to bed Sunday night, he heard the train whistle again about midnight and went out to the tracks by himself with a flashlight. Not only did he get to see a rare passenger train speeding by, but he found one more thin and shining remnant of copper.

An afternoon in South Mumbai.

I’m staying with Kate and Tom in the Suburban District of Mumbai, which is the larger part of the city and brimming with things to see and do. After spending my first ten days here, I had my first brief experience of the downtown hub of South Mumbai one afternoon when Tom and I made the trip with a few small goals in mind. The excursion was fun for me even though it was somewhat unsuccessful in the first stages.

We thought we’d visit the tip of the island, where in 1858 the British consecrated the Church of St. John the Evangelist as a memorial to soldiers slain in the First Afghan War of 1838. I had seen it on a list of The Ten Most Architecturally Interesting Churches in Mumbai. It is known as The Afghan Church

The church sits in the middle of an area of military buildings, a little remote from the busiest part of the city. Tom hadn’t yet been this far south. In this photo I found online, you can see the two towers of the Mumbai World Trade Centre in the background with the church spire in front. As we approached, a couple of British hippies were leaving, and they told us that it was locked, and “spooky.”

We walked around the building and noticed the wall stones stained black, unkempt landscape, and old signs lying randomly around, and could well believe that it was locked and never used. How sad, that no one, or at least no one who had the means to do anything about it, cared about this church that had a beautiful design and holy purpose. I took a picture of the detail on the base of a large stone cross in front of the church, which is my favorite image from my visit.

As we were walking out the gate again a small boy wandered over to us from a little house nearby and told Tom that he had the key to the church. I at least was not interested enough to take him seriously; I had given up on the Afghan Church at that point. We read online later that “Visitors may obtain access to view the historic church interior from the [lax] on-site custodian.” The website also said that a small congregation there holds services.

We stopped by another venerable building, the General Post Office, because we’d heard that they sold postcards, but no. Whether they normally sell them or not we never learned. We visited a room where several people seemed to be at work, but they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, tell us anything but that they were closed. I haven’t given up hope that I will find some postcards in time to mail them before I go home — maybe when I visit a more touristy spot?

Our last stop was exciting and satisfying, the iconic Victoria Terminus of Bombay, known simply as CST now, for Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus of Mumbai. Over 1,000 trains come and go every day from 18 platforms in this huge building, and for a watching companion I had my son-in-law who is the best guide possible, fascinated as he is — and knowledgeable about — railways all over the world. We enjoyed taking videos in both slow-motion and time-lapse modes, of the swarms of people flowing into and hopping out of the cars. Two million passengers pass through daily! I could have stared at that scene for hours.

 
This station was planned as a commemoration the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and took ten years to build from the beginning of the project in 1848. It is said to be “a fusion of influences from Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and classical Indian architecture.” It is so grand, it is often mistaken for a palace or a cathedral.
 
The lights that have been installed on the exterior seem to me to contribute to an ongoing fusion of style. 16 million lights in different colors are available to create an ever-changing display according to the different festivals throughout the calendar. As we were driving away at dusk, I was surprised to see lavender hues that hadn’t been there in my first photos, and the next day I read about the lights and found examples of the most brilliant displays to show Kate.

Since our visit I’ve also seen unbelievable and scary train scenes from Tom’s phone, that he recorded previously and of the sort I’ll never have the opportunity to witness firsthand. My acquaintance with Indian railways and trains is certainly minuscule at this point; I hope to actually ride a train before I’m done, and afterward I should have more to tell.

Here’s a car with the picture on the side showing that it is reserved for women. I won’t be riding in one of those, because if I go, it won’t be without my competent male guide along. For now, if any of you has a tale to tell of Indian train rides, I’d love to hear!