Train stations in Delhi are an interesting thing. People milling around, sitting around in piles, lying around sleeping and some people even actually doing some work. We had to walk up some stairs (dark, hot and very nefarious looking) to the “Foreign Ticket Office” to buy tickets for the trains. First you fill out a form (of course – always a form), then go the wall and find the numbers of the trains that are going your way. You then go to a man who writes numbers on your form, and then you go and sit under a sign that says “Q here” and you wait to be served. Of course. But the service was fine, and it was nice to see that the men serving had bracelets on their wrists given to them by their sisters for brother/sister day. Some of the trains we wanted were cancelled due to the floods in Mumbai. We finally got it sorted and are now in possession of tickets to Madya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
I have to laugh at the service here sometimes.The other night I asked for a freshly squeezed juice and the waiter said “I’m sorry, you cannot have that. Do you want some now?” Umm, yes, I think I still do. It’s only been 10 seconds since I asked and yes, I definitely feel I would still like some. Hard case.
We visited a belly dancing clothing shop – wow! And next door a shoe shop that actually has aladdin-type shoes with the toes curled up. I really want to grab some before I leave. I don’t know about wearing them, but they’d look great hanging on the wall.
I dropped into a shop that had some stuff I wanted to look at. This was down and dark and dingy alleyway. Nothing special about that. All the alleyways are dark and dingy. The guy took me downstairs to look at different versions of a handbag I wanted. These stairs were worse than the last lot. Even steeper and narrower with dangerous marble overheads. He then took me across the alleyway (where I was treated to a walk through a cloud of flies) to look at some motorbikes brilliantly constructed out of coloured wire. We had a good chat and I showed him photos of my kids and he said he couldn’t believe I was old enough to have such big children. Now I was really starting to warm to this guy. He thought my Hindi accent was beautiful and because I spoke a few words of it, he felt that we were almost family. Of course – we have now known each other for at least 15 minutes.
Next, into the tailor’s shop. Or perhaps “square hole in the wall” would be a more apt description. In here we were crowded in with the man and his “boy”, 2 other customers, and assorted hangers-on. One guy to fetch chai, another to fetch catalogues, another to fetch material samples and a few others that were just decorating the front of the shop I think. Talk about squish. And the men here often hold hands with each other. It doesn’t mean anything more than that they are friends. But it must be a little alarming to fresh-to-India heterosexual western males.
By the way – apologies to anyone I have sent repeat emails to. Today the power went off 4 times – apparently quite normal for Delhi. So of course I had to*be on the internet during one of these times, having just written yet another long epistle and every second computer went off. Just my luck! So I don’t know what happened. This is India email. Just shake your head and roll your eyes.
We are getting on the train tonight to go to Jhansi, where we will arrive at 3 o’clock in the morning and wait for a few hours for a bus to take us to Orchha. I have just stocked up on Pringles and water. Paul says take bananas but I can’t stand the thought of an ugly squashed banana in this heat. And ugly and squashed I am quite sure it will become.