India’s remarkable railways

Location: Delhi, trying to leave

Hotel: Hathroi Palace, Jaipur…eventually

Before I start, despite my posts seemingly appearing by magic, I want it known that it takes at least 2 hours to make this happen.  If I was doing it on my home computer I think I could do it in 30 minutes.

The biggest hassle is uploading photos.  The bloody multiple photo chooser thingy doesn’t work.  So if I select a bunch of shots, only 1 is uploaded.  This means each image has to be uploaded individually, then maybe rotated or cropped.  All on a tablet.  It’s tough work.

But before I really get started, I remind you that when travelling, flexibility is possibly the most important skill.  It is right behind patience, which is possibly the most important skill.  Which is right behind keeping a sense of humour which is possibly the most important skill.  Have I preempted this post?

Straightforward plan – book train Delhi to Jaipur, 1145hrs departure, 1700hrs or so arrival.  Nice timing all around.

A walk in the morning for some paratha rather than the hotel food and we are on our way to Old Delhi railway station.  As it happens, mistakenly thinking the train was leaving from New Delhi station would have made no difference, but going to the right place is a good idea.

Except that the tuk tuk driver did the classic “seed of doubt” routine and thought we should check at a tourist office that we were going to the right place.  It was a set up to sell us something and I was out of there in less than 60 seconds.

Maybe it was because he wasn’t going to get a commission that had tuk tuk driver decide to drive through an insanely crowded market the day before Diwali.  It was insanely crowded.  There were people and carts and trucks and nowhere to turn.  Fortunately we had heaps of time, ironically we weren’t going to need it.

Finally at old Delhi station and the initial news is that the Be Bujh express (which wasn’t) is running 10 hours late.  Crap!  This is the first travel day and there is a massive fail.  Understanding how India works, the fact that the train is late is confirmed several times and it is turns out to be true.

We went into a huddle on what to do.  We already had our shadow who was trying to help.  He had some suggestions that all seemed to revolve around a different tourist office…his own, of course.

Our options came down to

  • Waiting 10 hours.  Had I been alone I might have gone for this
  • Not waiting 10 hours, but working out what to do.

As Dear Leader of our group I went off to do some research on buses to Jaipur and found out the following from different travel stands:

  • There are none today
  • They leave every 15 minutes
  • There is one at 1800hrs
  • They leave every 30 minutes

The other option was a car and driver, I had a quote of 6,000R, about $120, which between 4 people isn’t too bad.  The absolute lack of any solid bus info  made us decide to go for it.

Enter Mr Singh, the hovering helper’s boss.  He quotes us 10,000R for the same trip and I immediately walk off to book 6,000R car.  I don’t look back but I know he is coming after me.  After a couple of hundred metres he catches up and of course he can do a better price.

With lots of group discussion, mock upset, disappointment, heart failure and outrage we settle on 7,000R for the trip plus a 200R tip for the driver.

I am at a point in the tale where a decision must be made on how to explain how it plays out.  For brevity of reading, but more importantly, for brevity of screen typing, I will keep it brief.

The promises, and below each one, the outcome.

  • A large car, not a small one
    • We were then shown a medium car just like we would be in.  We ended up in a small Suzuki Swift
  • A proper licensed taxi
    • It wasn’t
  • An English speaking driver
    • He didn’t
  • Original helper would be the driver
    • He wasn’t
  • We will leave from Mr Singh’s office
    • We left from a petrol station beside a main road where, despite all the lies, we weren’t in a position to do anything but keep going.
  • Air conditioning
    • It actually was air conditioned.

Pretty soon we were on our way.

When we stopped for lunch and I wandered into the kitchen (as I always do) and ended up helping out, to the amusement of the staff.  The one thing I wasn’t game to do was put a naan bread onto the wall of the tandoori oven.

 

The drive through Jaipur and the pre Diwali market was a great scene setter.  Driver got a 500R trip for great skill at picking the gaps in traffic for 5 hours.  It is not a trip for someone who is nervous in a car.

Arriving to a warm welcome from the Hathroi Palace guys, and at a decent time made it all OK.

Brain dead after a long day, but we made it to the Chillout space where we did exactly that with beer.

Next, Diwali.

 

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