Saturday, October 06, 2007

Hardwar The Hard Way

Once all the nose drops, etc., had kicked in I was feeling pretty good, so when a little guy came down our little street on a giant elephant, it wasn't hard for all the shopkeepers who had come to know us by now to negotiate a deal for him to take Mo and me around the block on top of said elephant.

Later, when I was sitting around laughing and joking with said shopkeepers I started feeling the nose drops, etc, starting to wear off. Two hours later I was up in my room with the worst pain yet, lying on my back, dropping drop after drop down my nose, knowing all the while that it would take about 3 hours for it to work.

Next morning it seemed better again, and we got the early morning private taxi that would take us to the early afternoon train. India has finally decided to build a series of 4 lane roads throughout the country, and in typical Indian fashion they are building them everywhere at once. Very slowly. As we slowly bumped our way along the right of way I had the distinct impression that in six years time the construction project will be in its exact same state of non-development, but with the dust and the trucks and the delays still busily occupying the space.

The guy booking our cab was naturally cautious, so we arrived two and a half hours before the train. Off to the only pretense to an actual restaurant in town. Then back to get a late train.

The computer had said that the only seats left were in 1AC, a class of service so high that most trains don't have it. And it costs accordingly. We were shown to a compartment that would have been standard 2nd class in Mongolia or Europe. Maureen was immediately freaked out by the mice running around the compartment.

So we got them to switch us to another compartment, this one with only 2 berths. It was incredibly grotty, with peeled wallpaper and rusty tables, etc., that didn't begin to work. Oh, and the mice were also here. But we talked ourselves into staying there, because at least we wouldn't be woken up in the middle of the night by weird Indian berthmates.

As we slept we went past Delhi and up towards Hardwar, a major Hindu site where the Ganges reaches the plains. Even though the train stopped rather frequently in the middle of nowhere for lengthy periods, it was actually closer on schedule than when we had started.

But then, 5 km from Hardwar, it stopped. For 45 minutes. Okay, now it started again. For 1 km. Where it stopped for another 45 minutes. Meanwhile, we hadn't eaten all morning, and now it was 2:30 in the afternoon.

Finally, we get to the station. And I was immediately made aware that Rajasthan, where we had just been, is actually more laid back than north central India. Immediately we were bombarded with hassling porters, rickshaw drivers, you name it. And though I will try to accurately depict the experience later, you pretty much have to experience the extremely neurotic level of these people hassling you to no go effect for themselves to believe it.

Anyway, we made our way out of the station and over to the 'comfortable mid-range option', which turned out to be an over priced dump. So we decided to finally have our first food of the day in their (thank Vishnu) AC restuarant and then head up the river to Rishikesh.


At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I have finally had a chance to catch up on your adventures. Having just now read the blog from start to finish I don't know whether to blow my nose, eat Trozadone, stretch my legs, cool off or bundle up. Having seen Taj Mahal two or three times in small venues, I am disappointed to hear you missed the real thing. I do have new appreciation for those who remark that India has poor infrastructure; now I can say, hey I know exactly what you mean. And, I am so glad to hear that Mr. Lama is doing so well, albeit at your expense. There is nothing like the yin of a merry yangster. By the way, when you get back can I interest you and the fine lady in some nice grapefruits? Maybe some orange blossom incense? How about matching fountain pens??

I must get back to the real world now, but look forward to the next installment.



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