The Plains of Madhya Pradesh.

Empty platforms in nameless towns flashing by.

I made these notes in my diary as I crossed the state of Madhya Pradesh on the SC DNR Express from Nagpur to Allahabad. 

07:20 Monday 17/2
Mist over the fields in the cool of dawn vanish in moments as the sun rises.
A man in an orange jacket standing beside a fire, the smoke rising vertically.
Scarecrows and low, rounded hills in the distance. Barley, wheat, canola with bright yellow flowers.¹
Dew dusting the crops with silver-grey.
Two cups of hot, sweet, gingery chai on the dawn-chilled platform at Jabalpur.


The fields encircled with trees.
The little ramshackle shelter shacks: roofs of junk on spindley stick legs.
Quicksilver pools of water in the hollows.
A yellow school bus on a red-dirt road.
Empty platforms in nameless towns flashing by.
A temple in a dappled clearing.
Farm workers, their heads swaddled in scarves against the morning chill, walk briskly towards the fields.
A man in a white dhoti and blue shirt holding a tethered calf.

The train stopped for half an hour in Satna. Leaving town, along the backs of houses I saw shitting dogs, mooching cows, razor-backed pigs, a schoolboy in a bright red sweater and tie. Then the littered outskirts. The word SEX painted in white on a brick wall. Mr Feet², as I’ve named him, noisily eating chaat from a tinfoil bag. Then brick kilns, warehouses, slummy dwellings and the smokestacks of factories steaming in the distance.

A bright yellow square temple on an embankment, surrounded by equally yellow canola flowers.
A battalion of pylons marching across the landscape and disappearing into the brown, smokey haze.    

¹ I discovered later that the bright green crop with yellow flowers was, in fact, mustard.
² One of the other passengers in my 2AC compartment.

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