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Himalaya

Day 94: Digboi to Dibrugah

Michael Palin - HimalayaA pack of pye-dogs circles the entrance to Digboi station, backing away with wary reluctance at the approach of my cycle-rickshaw. I buy a ticket for Dibrugah, 52 miles (80 km) down the line, for 18 rupees, about 25 pence. I notice that a ticket on the sleeper service to Delhi, over 1000 miles (1600 km) away, would set me back 8.

That the railway extends here at all has everything to do with oil, tea and coal and very little to do with passengers. The wooden bench seats are functional rather than comfortable and progress is slow and punctuated every few hundred yards by a blast of the engine's horn to clear the railway line of all those who use it as a highway, meeting place, or just for grazing.

Fortunately, I have some good companions. Sitting opposite me are two women, one tall and slim with classic English features, the other a short, stout, bespectacled Indian lady whose face wears an expression of such serene good nature that it's impossible not to want to talk to her. The reason why they're travelling together is a remarkable story that unfolds as the train shrieks its way westwards.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 94: Digboi to Dibrugah
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Digboi
  • Book page no: 222

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