We were assigned to second class. Finally we set off for a long
overnight journey. The people in our compartment were a pleasant
bunch, all Indian and most could not speak English. The country
was very variable, a bit like running over the Western Plains of
America. It was pleasantly green, as there had been a good monsoon.
Then the banana leaves were unwrapped. We had been warned not to
eat any unwashed fruit or food from natives, but as I had only had
one bout of bellyache during my whole tour abroad I felt this did
not apply to me. And so it happened.
The food was offered, eaten and discussed at length. My Liverpudlian
partners were disgusted and amazed. So I ate and laughed and told
tall stories. Food could also be purchased at the stations. It could
be ordered ahead by telegraph, but this was never tried.
Stations came and went, passengers changed and time fled. Presently
we settled down and I slept like a babe. We had been told horrendous
tales of thuggees who got on a train after dark and murdered all
the passengers in a compartment, but this did not disturb my sleep.
After travelling nearly 24 hours we found ourselves running into
a big city. This was Delhi, our destination. We still had to get
to Simla. Delhi was like a hive of disturbed bees. There were cars,
trams, lorries, rickshaws; every form of transport. The station
platforms were covered with sleeping forms in every corner, sheeted
After a shortish wait our next train came in. This train was to
take us to Kalka, a terminus at the foot of Terai which was in the
foothills of the Himalayas. Here we were confronted with our next
means of transport. This was a narrow-gauge mountain railway.
Slowly the train struggled through the trees and bushes of the
Terai. Higher up it frequently had to reverse and go forwards in
a series of steps. As we got higher the view became tremendous but
once again, as in Africa, the distant view was clouded. Finally
it seemed as if the whole world must be beneath us.
We arrived at Simla station. It was a neat little town perched
on either side of what was known as the ridge. We were on the south
side and could see nothing to the north. We struggled to the top
of the ridge and from there the magnificent Himalayas were visible,
including Everest. Words could not describe it.
Soon we arrived at our destination; the YMCA. Here we were neatly
housed for the following days.