[In the previous post, I also meant to say that Ravi Bopara looked in particularly good nick in the Mumbai nets. For the record, given Bopara’s 54 n.o. and Collingwood’s (predicted) failure, I am willing to make myself officially available as England coach.]
Departure from Mumbai was almost as early in the morning as the arrival. I caught the 06.55 “Mandovi Express”, which wends its way down from Mumbai to Karmali in Goa, moving from the slum outskirts of Bombay, down the Maharashtra province coast, eventually reaching the lush green countryside of Northern Goa in early evening.
Already, Indian trains are proving to be a great experience. Thanks to the advice of Jake in Snow and Rock High Street Kensington, I had the best seat for day-time travel – a side lower bunk seat, along the side of the train giving room for snoozing and reading in equal measure.
The trains are wide, unfeasibly long, and totally packed. As the wide carriages rumble down the track, the blue-shirted porters amble up and down offering various foods, chanting their names in monotone voices “Sa-mos-a”, “Pan-i”, “Bhaj-i Bhaj-i-a”, “Gul-ab Jam-un”. Best of all, with an admirable disregard for Health & Safety, the doors are left wide open, so you can lean out of the doors hanging on to one of the handles as you look up the tracks. 11 hours passed before we arrived a (respectable) 75 minutes late, drawing in to Karmali as the sun disappeared behind the stunning Goa countryside.
After a night and a day in the main town in Goa (Panjim), two 10p buses, each of an hour, took me down to Anjuna beach where I stay for a few days. 10p buses reminded me of the No.26 to Gilmerton. (Obscure reference for former Edinburgh schoolboys).The traveling is all.
A number of kind email enquiries have come in about the state of my digestive system. The truth is that it feels rather like a phoney war – I am fully aware that the monent of truth will arrive; just not sure when. The Australians I met in Mumbai suggested running a book on the time of the reckoning, but that would be inviting disaster… oh… hold on… must dash…