The electronic board: Train 56225, Chennai, 13:40, Departing, Platform 9 …
Bangalore is a bustling city. The town with its quaint British districts: Richmond, Benson and Cleveland has changed a lot since it was described as “a bit of England in alien land” by Winston Churchill when he was stationed there in 1896.
Even on a Sunday, the building sites are festooned with brown men in yellow helmets and red high-visibility jackets fixing steels, pouring concrete from giant hoppers, arranging groundwork posts or just standing and talking. The overhead metro construction stretches out to greet us as we approach along the Hassan road. Giant towers like the vertebrae of a gigantic prehistoric brontosaurus line the road at forty-yard intervals. A little closer to the town centre, these bare bones are connected by a concrete spine (awaiting rails) which shades our roadway beneath, nearer still appear stations and finally trains appear above our motor coach. Under construction too are blocks of flats; their bare box-like structures reach thirty stories or so into the bright blue sky.
As we make our way through the crowds to the station, our touring group is a target for trinket hawkers who rely on their ability to attract the interest of each potential customer. Fans are flicked open and alluringly waved, a penny whistle is hauntingly played, and, in response to a shake of the head or a disdainful hand gesture, the vendor replies with a polite “Maybe later?”. Ignoring the pleas of the vendors, we battle onward toward the giant electronic board which shows the times of the arriving and departing trains and the sanctuary of the station entrance.