A funny thing about railways stations here is that they have messages coming over the intercom regularly, often beginning with “Your attention please. Important message”. Then someone turns the volume down and you are unable to here anything but the odd word here and there. This can be a little alarming when you’re not sure if you’re on the correct platform. So you look around you to see if anyone else is panicking and sort of go by the general feel of things.
Things actually went straightforwardly and we got back to Delhi at about 6.30am. I was, however, totally caught out by the monsoon. This is the first time I have actually experienced monsoon here, as last year it was late in arriving. It’s an apt description though – it’s really, really wet. Pahar Ganj (our neighbourhood) was up to about ankle height or so and all sorts of interesting things were floating in the water. I was trying to avoid these and keep at least my camera dry whilst refusing rickshaw wallahs who kept getting in my way, whilst Paul was up ahead somehow managing to look smug beneath his umbrella. And so, it’s Good Morning from Delhi.
I was totally soaked by the time we got to our room, but it sure was great to put the luggage down again, and it actually seemed cooler also, thank goodness. Over to next door for breakfast, I kept myself amused watching the water pouring down the inside of the walls right beside the light and fan switch panel. Thunder was crashing around us, etc, and when I pointed this out to Paul he just told me “you should see it at blah blah blah. This is nothing…”. Well, I’m always into going with the flow, so if he wasn’t going to worry about it, neither was I.
Then I went down to the street, admitted defeat and bought myself an umbrella. A bit of a dangerous item actually – you push the button on the handle a little bit and “whooomph”, one unfurled umbrella. “Heh – let’s see the monkeys attack me when armed with this”, I thought to myself.
All in all a pretty cruisy day. Big breakfast, big lunch, taking care of little details like swapping clothing around because tonight’s trip is to the south, which should be a darn sight hotter than the mountains.
Everything was going swimmingly until Paul’s tailor screwed things up yet again. Horrible little man. This time it was Paul’s turn to want to kill him. There’s just something about this guy that really gets ya. His work is good, but he is a purveyor of inexactitudes, and has you running round day after day working things in around him because he has lied or let you down once again. Grrr Grrr Grrrrr.
My tailor, however, is a very nice chap, with whom I had a very nice chai and he goes about wanting to satisfy his customers in the most wonderful way. I’ll keep him on!
And so, in spite of being totally organised, Paul’s tailor-made us late to the luggage room, late to the train station and generally killed an otherwise cruisy day. Fortunately our train was twenty minutes late, so much to our relief it all worked in the long run.
We hadn’t actually found out about the Mumbai bombings until the afternoon, so it was particularly interesting to find we were sharing our cubicle on the train with a bunch of Moslem men. One of them was trying to hang a small carry bag on a hook by the window, and each one of them frequently got up and down and went in and out. Paul and I both surreptitiously eyed the bag and I think we both had our fingers crossed that these were just innocent travellers like ourselves.
It was all good though, and we arrived in Jhansi safe and sound.
(By the way, the headline to this chapter is one that was in the Hindustan Times I think. We just love the way they play with English.)