India 2008 # 5: Warning – Sleeping on Indian Trains is Injurious to Your Sleep!

Well, it’s almost a relief to report that there was a bit of mayhem at the train station in Jhansi. We sat on Platform three, rat-watching as you do, when at the very last minute we found that things had changed and our train was coming in on Platform four. Much as I moan about this whole platform business, I have to admit things had been going boringly smoothly for a while there and I was beginning to wonder if I was still in India. So we did the mad dash along the platform and up the stairs, etc, and joined in with the mad squeeze of humanity boarding the train. Amusingly, at the metro stations they have t.v . screens demonstrating allowing people to get off the train before you get on. Who are they kidding? Orderly queing or boarding of any form of public transport is just not going to happen here. Indians, apparently, are genetically incapable of this.

Unfortunately, we had been given bunks by the door. You’d think this was good for expedience, right? Not so. A door is a very dangerous vicinity to hang out at on an Indian train. Kind of like the Running of the Bulls in Barcelona, but without the bulls. Even though the train was going to take overnight to get to Delhi, hoards of people were still crushing together to ensure they got out of the door first. Leisa and I had side bunks, which meant we were parallel to the aisle. We had a hard time explaining to one man that we had booked and paid for these seats and we were actually unreasonable enough to want to sit on them. Well, lie on them actually, as it was well after eleven at night. Some other guy was lying on Ernie’s bunk and he had a sudden lack of English on this subject also. But never mind – this particular guy perched on the end of my bunk throughout the night. My kicking and prodding him with my feet on a regular basis didn’t phase him at all, the rotten sod. I mean, I’m not known for my height – more so for the lack of it – but this was a very short bunk. However, he wasn’t half as annoying as the dude who decided to live in the aisle right beside my bunk complete with several suitcases. This caused everybody who kept coming to check that the doorway was still there, as after all, we only had eight or nine hours to go, to climb over his luggage, bumping and pushing against my bunk in the process.

We arrived in Delhi at 6.30 am and grabbed a taxi van to the guesthouse. It was Paul’s turn to feel a little unhealthy so he slept in the room while Ernie, Leisa and I went about the business of consulting with our tailor and assorted other chores. Funny thing – we’re supposed to be here on holiday, but we always seem to be going somewhere or returning from somewhere. Perhaps Tahiti, hammocks and palm trees is a good option next year? Nah, heck, we’d be bored in no time and have to start driving around beeping our horns, spitting on the streets and letting cows loose to keep ourselves feeling normal.

Delhi is a hot and sweaty place at the moment so I took Leisa to visit Mr Om at the R-Expo shop. They have air-con, heh heh. But believe me, we paid for it. I think I have about a years worth of vanilla bean soap and natural-based shampoo, etc – I know the package was heavy and my wallet was light when I left there. He’s a scary man, that Mr Om.

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