Train Wrecked

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Madhuban Heritage Guesthouse

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Monday, December 20, 2010

MIKEY: As I woke this morning I was struck by so many unfamiliar emotions. The sleeper train had been an experience, you just have to deal with the crowded cabin members turning on lights and having over the top, loud conversations at 3 in the morning.  I think we were particularly unlucky though with the hyperactive father who seemed so keen to entertain his family through the night.  It was no coincidence that when he decided he needed to sleep, the cabins noise level dipped by 4 decibels.  Alan, Tricia, Polly and I all wanted to chuck him out the window; unfortunately I don't think his mouth would have squeezed through.

Mumbai was special. I felt that I could actually live there, I loved the green, the cricket, the edge.  There was so much more to be uncovered and 3 days was not enough.  But that is typical of our bike ride; how can you find a place that is so great (most places we have been) and pass through in a day or two?  You cannot without reminding yourself that back home there is so much still to do, the rest of the world can wait for you to have another look sometime.  They will still be there, doing the same thing…or maybe not.

Even the train in India was noisy.  In UK carriages are normally relaxing and quiet; here there were tea sellers, transvestite performers, 4 piece drum bands, and beggars, lots of beggars.  Constantly torn between whether to give money or not, very difficult.  The scenery was actually pretty average, but was great to hang out of the door (there was actually no door) and watch middle India rush past. What was that man doing sitting in a field with nothing around for miles?  And so it continued an increasing lack of understanding about how this country works and how people make a living.

POLLY: As usual on any train/car journey I slept really well snuggled in my sleeping bag, and only wake a couple of times because of the man shouting. It was really strange to wake up and see Mum had a random girl perched on the end of her bed. Apparently she had sat there when the man who had perched there ALL night finally left! Outrageous, I can’t believe Mum didn’t kick him off. We spent the rest of the day spread right along the bench not letting anyone else on – I felt a bit mean when I saw 15 people crammed in the 6 person carriage next door, but we paid for our seats! The 11 hours from the time we woke up until we at last got off were spent reading, sleeping (Alan – a lot!), doing a crossword, eating various random snacks they brought round and watching the endless desert scrub slowly chug by. When a cleaner came round and swept the floor, Dad asked him if he could take our rubbish bag. He indicated that we should throw it out of the window and thought we were very strange we said absolutely not, it needed to go in a bin. He then seemed to have a change of heart and took the bag and to our horror carefully emptied every single bit out into the barren landscape where presumably it will lie with millions of other rubbish for the next few 100 years. The cleaner and our carriage companions all thought our aghast faces were hilarious and had nothing to say when Mikey asked why they were destroying their country, just shrugged.

Amazingly the train arrived on time and our bikes were safely on the platform when we went to find them. The station was pretty hectic and once again there were no porters so getting all the luggage and bikes out was tough work (for mikey!). We somehow managed to leave by the wrong exit and ended up in a dark car park with a lot of very dodgy seeming men wanting to take us to our hotel. I didn’t feel that happy about the taxi Mum and Dad got in, but we didn’t really have much choice as the bikes definitely weren’t getting in there.  Mikey and I walked the bikes out into a completely hectic street hoping to find a place to fix his tyre and cycle to the hotel – better than that we found a crazy rickshaw driver who was desperate to take us to our hotel and chucked the bikes in before we even asked. He talked all the way, first in English, then French and even Italian! Arriving at a beautiful hotel and being told Mum and Dad were in the room I had booked for them was a big relief, although I still went straight there to check they were ok – They were, but I don’t think either of them will ever travel by train in India again! A gin and tonic and curry before bed revived us all however, as did the thought that we would see Dan really soon.
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triciagick on

Pols and Mikey, serious travellers that they are, have glossed over the extremely horrid, interminable, smelly, cold, noisy, endless, back breaking, bum numbing twenty-two hours. Alan and I survived - it is an experience that will NOT be repeated!!!

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