Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Welcome To India

So we didn't sleep all that well and we woke up at 4:30 am. Out of our too-good-for-India hotel room and out into the very early morning street. Down to the train station.

Yesterday when we bought the ticket the guy said that the train usually left on Track 10. Sure enough, the big board said 'Himalaya Queen' was leaving on Track 10. I lug our stuff up and over and down to Track 10 and a guy at the platform confirms that 'Himalaya Queen' is leaving from there. The little electric train number signs on Track 10 read 4035, the number of our train.

At 5:45 the train appears and we board on to our nice air conditioned car. It takes off about 15 minutes later and we watch as the most incredibly decrepit less than ls next to the train tracks pass by. Into the open, flat, most uninteresting Indian countryside.

About an hour and a half later the conductor comes by to check the ticket. At which point he says, 'But this is the Jaipur train!' WHAAAAT????? That's right, when the train had come in I hadn't actually looked at the side of the car, where it said 'Ajmer' instead of 'Kalka'. Welcome to India.

So they toss us off the train at the next tiny town in the middle of nowhere. I leave Maureen with the stuff while I tramp up and over the tracks to try and find the ticket office. Once inside I found two lines of 20 men each, one of which had no ticket seller at the end of it. Now if I were to be a good egalitarian person and waited patiently, first of all, I might find out that it's the wrong line anyway. And second of all there's no way I could get the ticket within the 15 minutes before the only train back to Delhi came through.

So in my best imperialist rude manner, I just pushed myself in front of everybody else, stuck my hand in the tiny window, and did what I had to to get two friggin tickets. Then it was back to Mo at the platform two minutes before the train arrived.

Oh, and the only tickets for sale in the middle of nowhere were fourth class ones. Which meant that we were squooshed together on a narrow mat with a bunch of other fourth class passengers.

And by now it was getting hotter and hotter again. So that when we got to the old Delhi station we had to hop something to take us through the horrible traffic back to our hotel. Which being the only refuge we could think of in our by now totally frazzled beings, we booked into again.

A couple of hours lying on a bed in A/C later, we went back to the New Delhi train station and re-booked our tickets. Then an autorickshaw down to a couple of semi-tourist sights in New Delhi, which is a much more sedate version of Old Delhi. But it's weird that you have to upgrade two or three levels to just get up to Third World status in this country.

Now I'm back at the same little hotel internet site. Tomorrow will be the fifth day of our 'vacation' and so far we've had to totally repeat two of those days.


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