The Fine Art of Not Throwing Your Friends Before an Oncoming Train in Rural India: A List

Absolutely none of my friends were crushed to death below this Kanyakumari-bound train.

Absolutely none of my friends were crushed to death below this Kanyakumari-bound train.

Choosing a person to travel with is not something that you should undertake lightly. You’re going to spend a scary amount of time with them: eating, sleeping, drinking, walking, sightseeing, waiting. Trains and planes and automobiles. Ticket booths and absurdly long lines. Restaurants and toilet stalls. If you weren’t close before, you’re going to be close now.

You’re going to face stress with one another, and stress because of one another. As you scrounge for food and tickets and the best opportunities for travel, trading in your precious grubby local bills, vigorously negotiating with a hard-selling samosa man, lugging around enormous weights on your back while festooned with mosquito bites and harem pants, things will grate. You will begin to seethe. And in time, the person(s) you are with will become the focus of your rage.

Under these specific and highly strenuous conditions, what path should one take in order to ensure smooth sailing? How best should one procure an even keel, a good working relationship, a balanced distribution of cost and effort? How can you guarantee that you will not smother your travel companion on some dark night when the clouds swell and the wind is high, muffling the sound of their wails with an inflatable Hello Kitty travel pillow, and then you have to drag the body to a lagoon, and you have to decide whether dismemberment is even an option, and then regardless of your decision you still have to wrap it in a fine tarpaulin (which can be expensive in some foreign markets) and then weight it down with an appropriate amount of rocks and find a good way to bind the bundle, good thing you had those carabiners and bungee cords on your bag, but also you need a body of water that will not shift your contents or drag the corpse down-current and lead to its discovery and your incarceration, and whatever, like they’ll find you anyway, you’ll already be halfway to Timbuktu?

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