I never feel so purely childlike as when we take the toy train (it has a grander official name and status: The Nilgiri Mountain
Railway, a World Heritage Site) from Coonoor up to Ooty. We have lunch at the Savoy and then drive back to Coonoor.
We arrived at Coonoor station at 1:00 p.m. for the 1:30 train, and bought two first-class tickets for Rs. 78 each, entitling us to sit in splendid solitude in the first car. While we waited, we wandered around the station with our cameras. I shot the small fountain:
R took this picture of the train:
A group of men had gathered on a bench on the station platform. One of them sang Tamil film songs in a good strong voice. I love the smiles on his listeners' faces:
A little late, the guard took his seat on a bench at the front of the train, just outside our compartment (photo by R):
The engine was in the rear; the guard held red and green flags, with which he signalled to the engine driver when people or cattle strayed too close to the tracks. When we reached Ooty, R asked him how long he had been working on the train. He said 19 years, with 6 more to go. He lives in Mettupalayam, in the plains, where the train's journey begins; and travels up and down every day.
Scenes from the trip:
At Lovedale, the Station Master came out to meet the train:
The proprietor of the Combined Fruit and Vegetarian Teastall looked on:
A family sat in the second section of our car. Their youngest child rested his chin on the back of our seat, and looked out with fascination; inside me, I had exactly the same expression: