At the Railway Station – New Delhi
Our tour group returned to the hotel to pack our belongings and head for Delhi Railway Station. An exciting night ahead. Joining the locals for overnight travel by train to Varanasi. It was dark by the time we arrived at the railway station by tuk tuk. Couldn’t believe how busy it was. Luggage drays and porters sitting or standing nearby.
Our guide organised a local porter to take our luggage onto the platform, the porters, a wild-eyed looking bunch with colored turbans and matching shirts. Certainly earned their money pulling the wooden drays up the ramp to the platform with all that luggage.
Arriving on the platform at the railway station an amazing sight greeted us. White robed and turbaned men lined the edge of the platform about four deep along its length. Family groups squatted behind,or stood patiently waiting with their little children;belongings wrapped in cloth and tied at the top like a huge round pudding. Somehow the women managed their children while they carried the huge bundle on top of their heads, very impressive. Guess I have never seen so many people in one place, but this is India after all. Population of New Delhi about 18.6 million. Below, another day on Delhi Railway Station, just to give you an idea of the crowd.
Rats and more rats
There was a sign that banned the use of flash photography because of the terrorists scares, just in case the flashing lights alarmed people. Rightly so of course, you wouldn’t want a stampede with all these people on the platform. It was too dark to get any photo’s without a flashlight, so a big regret that I don’t have any pics of this fascinating scene. Then of course there were the rats, mostly big grey rats, but medium-sized rats as well, running hither and thither across the railway lines; not on the platform as yet, but later I’m sure when it’s almost deserted a different story. Glad we were getting on the train soon. Rats are not my favorite creatures.However, I think they are probably a fairly common sight on any railway station at night.
We had to fight our way onto the train virtually, fortunately our overnight sleeper was booked.This was another story. A young single fellow was sitting cross-legged on a top bunk and waved a ticket at us, another big bulky fellow (who we decided not to argue with) claimed a bottom bunk for his wife and said he had a ticket. so had to wait until our tour guide arrived to sort it out. The married couple didn’t have a reserved ticket of course, and the young guy was just hoping to find a spare bunk for the journey. Three of us women shared the bunks in the end cubicle near the door. A young married fellow joined us with a valid ticket before the train departed New Delhi, taking the fourth bunk. He was a very nice fellow and interesting to talk as he spoke some English.
I must say the rest of the night was pretty awful, I think we four had the worst cubicle in the carriage, thank goodness it was only one night. Guess we are a bit spoiled, considering most of the locals would have been glad of our bunks. However, every-time someone came through the carriage the door banged shut and the wind blew the curtain open, the cubicle filled with light from the corridor; there seemed to be a never-ending flow of traffic all night long. Not much sleep! We did have the emergency bell in our carriage!! The other thing was the toilet in an adjoining carriage. Hung off as long as I possibly could. Men in their long white robes and turbaned heads crammed into the limited space outside the loo, we had to thread our way through them to reach the Ladies.The men of course standing up all night. The toilet itself was a large squat hole in the carriage floor, looked like the black hole of Calcutta, doubt if they ever clean it. A bit worried I might fall through onto the railway line? Didn’t see any rats! Lack of sleep brings out the worst in me. When we traveled thru China we had a first class carriage on the local train, which gave us a locked cabin door and a very large modern en-suite to share at the end of the compartment, wonderful compared to this. Mind, this overnight adventure was part of the India experience. In hindsight it wasn’t that bad, but next time I’d have my experience in first class.
Varanasi Railway Station
We arrived at the railway station in Varanasi via the Swatantra Express at 8.50 am, pleased to be off the train and ready for our next adventure. A bright sunny day, most of the crowd had vanished by the time our luggage came off the train.
Fruit vendors displayed their fresh produce on the platform at the railway station; the local porters arrived in their bright red jackets to take our luggage and we followed on. No rats on the railway lines at this hour.
Don’t know how the porters manage the luggage on their heads, but they did, seemingly without much difficulty. We trudged after them to the end of the platform,down the corridor and steps to the waiting coach.
‘Ideal’ Hotel a welcoming sight, looking forward to a nice hot shower, change of clothes and breakfast. Tonight, a comfy bed and good nights sleep.
After lunch our tour group will head out by coach to an archaeological site at ancient Sarnath.
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