"You should have flown straight to Goa my friend!"
Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
21Trip End Mar 25, 2009
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Ok, that's just how I'm feeling right now, that can change tomorrow. One word of caution: Do not get on the wrong train! The train may have the same number as your ticket, hell, it might be on the platform when your scheduled train is set to be there, and be going to the same destination and the same class of car. DO NOT GET ON!!
Of course, there is no way of determining whether or not you are boarding the proper train or not, as there is no one to ask. If you buy a ticket on "waiting list," as I had, you might save a couple of hundred rupees. But the berth number you get is "73," so you will not be on the manifest once you find your car. It is supposed to be that you get whichever empty seat is there once the conductor comes.
Problem is, the conductor does not show up until a couple of hours into the trip, and otherwise is nowhere to be found when the train is loading. So, if you are on say, train 1408, and you are actually booked for 1408a, b, or some other such sketchy destination, not only do you have to pay the full fare, you have to pay double fare. The other option is to get off in the middle of the night at some jerkwater station where of course 1408 "a" does not stop, buy a ticket there to some other jerkwater station where it does stop, and hope you beat it there, because it is only 15 minutes behind you on the same track. Jesus help me. A few thousand, yes, thousand rupees can prevent this.
I'm fed up with systems that do not work, dirt, pollution, rats, everyone and their brother, their cousin, and their cousin's brother trying to overcharge you for everything even when you call them on their crap. Right now, I really hate this country. Maybe I'm getting old.
16 hours on a double priced train can set a fella to thinking, that's for sure. I am not going riding, sorry to disappoint, but the way luck is treating me this time round (probably because I have let my attitude deteriorate to this point), I can't bear the strain of trying to work out paperwork, perhaps flat tires, maybe breaking down, baksheesh to crooked police, or any of the other events which happen with regularity just because I happen to have been born in a country in which most people here think is paved with gold.
Just arriving at Mumbai central is a trial. They for one, do not allow rickshaws into the city anymore, just taxis, so these sketchy drivers hang round, telling you it is 200 rupees to Church Gate, instead of about 30, which it should be. They refuse to use the meters, which are required by law. Finally I found one for a hundred, best I could do after being hassled by all kinds of hangers-on in the station trying to carry my bag.
Arriving at church gate, I had no problem buying a ticket to Goa for tomorrow morning. To hell with this city. Some nice architecture, a few nice gardens and sights, Cow-patty beach, and a bunch of beggars and ripoffs.
Walking around looking for a guesthouse, I decided to ask an old driver about "sasta" (cheap) accomodation. Grand Hotel district, I was told, and he took me there for 30 rupees by meter. At last an honest driver. Every damn one of these places of course had no single room, only double, at such inflated prices as 750 and more rupees. Not indian price, for sub-indian standard rooms. I was Katam (finished). Back to the fort area in another meter taxi, and through a couple of pathways was led to one victoria hotel, with a 900 single. 900?!?! Finally I found out that he also had a double (?!?!) for 600, just no attached bath. I don't care about any fancy-pants attached bath, and at that point, I had just plain had it. Here's the 600, give me my key, dammit.
Needless to say I am in no condition to go looking for someone selling a bike in some north bombay neighborhood that is not even on google maps. Not going to happen.
At 7 in the morning, I will be on my way to a palm tree, and a cold beer. Hopefully I can forget this nightmare.
Sorry about the lack of pictures, but it is dark now, and everything is in shadow. Not much to see here anyway, except one annoyed-as-hell Gora, and an internet cafe that costs 3 times as much as anywhere else in this country and is about one-tenth as fast.
More later when I feel better.