India is a big country. It’s easy to forget that. And then you try traveling here. Yesterday I departed Varanasi for Sikkim, waaaaay up north in the Himalayas. You might as well think of it as Nepal or Bhutan.
Some 14 hours on an overnight train and then another four to five on a shared jeep to the capital, Gangtok.
With the exception of one or two long trips — mostly buses — I’ve been pleased with how one can cover ground here in India, although it can be humbling to see how much ground there is to cover.
But traveling in India, particularly by train, has its own special vibe. I went super deluxe on the train last night and bought the very expensive top class of sleeper berth. It comes with bedding and a curtained off section. But you get the same early morning vendors that the other classes get. So I woke up to the singsong parade of hot beverage vendors who pass through the hallways: chai-coffee-chai-coffee-chai-chai-chai-coffee-coffee-coffee-chaiiiiiiiii-coffeeeeeeeee!
That I’m used to but in the dim morning hours I got a good laugh (or as much of a laugh as you get so early in the morn) from one of the vendors who was selling three or four things, one of which was scientific calculators. It’s not necessarily crazy that someone would be selling scientific calculators in India and if anyone might be interested it might be the more educated, upper-class people in my car.
But even in my half-conscious state I had to think about the chance that there was a passenger who was saying to himself, “Wow, I’m on the train and I really need a scientific calculator. Right now — at 5:30. Thank god they’re selling them!!!”
I mean, what are the odds?
I’d tell you, but, alas, I left my calculator in my other pants.