Mexican lunch and Indian trains

India, 2010.

India, 2010.

Over at the State Capitol Friday it seemed that school was out for the day as I wandered down empty corridors to see if there was any reporting I could do for my day job.

But it appeared that South by Southwest had drawn the state senators and representatives away and that the 83rd Texas Legislature was on hold.

In the Capitol’s library the normally quiet librarians seemed to sense the release and were chattering away merrily when I popped in.

I’d been invited to Mexitas Mexican Restaurant for lunch by a friend from the Thursday breakfast club at Cisco’s and who, in turn, was joined by a colleague who talked about his travels to India.

We got onto the subject of trains and I was taken back to the summer of 2010, before I came to Austin, traveling across Rajasthan.

I’m a big fan of train travel in India: it’s great value, reliable and, among other things, every five minutes a guy comes by your carriage compartment chattering in a melodic chant, “Chai, chai, chai, chai,” and doles out a cup of Masala-flavored tea for thruppence (or the Rupee equivalent).

Often the entrance to the carriage is merely an opening in the side and so if you’ve been on a sleeper train and want to help yourself wake up in the morning you can poke your head out, cautiously gripping the sides, and watch the Indian countryside trundle by as locals wake up and come out of their homes to wash and get their days started.

Invigorating stuff, and then the chai wallah passes you again, chattering away, you have another cup of hot, invigorating tea and you’re emboldened for the inevitably chaotic day ahead in that great subcontinent of color, heat and teeming masses.