The following morning I woke up early, had breakfast and set off into the town. It was going to be a productive day. I was going to get things done. Alone.
After the shambles of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, I still yearned to have an Indian miniature train experience, and I would h ave it, even if it would be by myself.
Taking a tuk tuk I wound my way down into the centre of town, along the rather congested road, past a bundle of buses and then to the railway station. I paid the driver and went inside.
Wonderful, I had managed to arrive in the one hour that the office was shut. There was no point in leaving and coming back, so I sat on the metal bench by the temporarily out of service booth and waited.
It was 20 minutes later that he shuffled towards me and sat down. He wore a jacket that smelt like musty oats and his head hung guiltily down towards his chest, like a school child getting told off.
I was reading my lonely planet, working out how I was going to get to Goa from Ooty, when he spoke.
I looked up. He was about 25, had a furrowed brow – like he was constantly concentrating very hard – and a thin moustache. “Yes.”
I looked back down.
“Do you like me?”
Holy fuck this guy was creepy. I didn’t really know what to do, so opted to play dumb.
“Sorry, I don’t understand you.”
This was when, thank god, the ticket booth opened. I got up hastily, leaving the freak in my wake.
After a bit of a communication failure, I finally managed to get my ticket to Conoor for the following day. I would be travelling 2nd class (there were only two), I would be leaving at 9.15 am and getting back at 4.15 pm and I would have a seat by the window (so that I could see the view) and facing forwards (I hate going backwards on trains).
Happy that I’d achieved what I had come to do, I had forgotten about Mr Thin Moustache – that was until I got the sense of someone very close behind me, that horrible sinking feeling when someone had trespassed the line into your personal space – that feeling. I turned and he stood there leering.
He leant forwards to me.
“Do you like sex?”
I must have misheard him. “What?”
Louder this time, “Do you like sex?”
For the second time in Ooty when I wanted to use all the cursing words in my vocabulary, instead I offered relatively tame responses. This time, my brain for some reason went on a female rights tirade.
“HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO WOMEN LIKE THAT! LEAVE ME ALONE. LEAVE ME ALONE THIS INSTANT.”
He didn’t leave me alone. He followed me – it was as if he seemed to be turned on by my ferocity. Creep. I broke in to a run and jumped into the nearest tuk tuk, where I recoiled in disgust at the thought of him all the way to Naturals. After that, I wouldn’t just be having a wax – I was going to have me some relaxation and cleansing.