Day 25: Rawalpindi to Lahore
It's heating up as promised – 44°C (111°F) by the time we reach Rawalpindi Station, a huge conflation of Scottish baronial turrets and cupolas with a bland modern extension tacked on. Porters cluster around us and a thin-faced ascetic old man with a Gandalf-like white beard grabs one of my cases, hoists the other onto his head and, a little disappointed that I choose to carry my own shoulder bag, marches off through the crowds.
Our driver nods approvingly. This old man is a great character, he says. He was carrying bags for British officers before independence. That was 55 years ago.
There are three classes on the train, two with air-con and one without. We're in air-con, 2nd class and are made comfortable by an army of solicitous attendants marshalled by a man in a white suit, green peaked hat and a crimson arm band, grandly embroidered with the words Conductor Guard. A rich cast of characters, all with titles clearly inscribed on jackets or lapels, come through offering refreshment of various kinds. My favourite is the Iceman, a stocky, embattled figure in a frayed white jacket, whose bulbous eyes and droopy moustache remind me of a small-time crook in a French gangster movie. He hauls a huge bucket in which is a block of ice with bottles squeezed around it. There is a tired, emaciated Sweet Seller and various perkier, smartly turned-out young men described on their lapel badges as either Buttlers (sic) or Waiters. Waiter No. 14 brings chai, sweet milky tea, and Buttler No. 7 collects the money.
Choose another day from Himalaya
- Series: Himalaya
- Chapter: Day 25: Rawalpindi to Lahore
- Country/sea: Pakistan
- Place: Rawalpindi
- Book page no: 52
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