Welcome to India

When we arrived at the airport there was a suspicious looking Indian guy holding a sign with our names on it- this came as a surprise to us as we hadn’t organised transfers and what was more confusing was he was in the international terminal not on the outside. Not knowing what to do we went with him, he had our names on a sign after all. Turns out it is a service the Delhi Airport provides to those flying business or first class. He didn’t really do much but walk us through to our bags, something we could have done ourselves but afterwards we had to write a review about him. By this stage he was making me uncomfortable so we quickly wrote our reviews and left for the Metro.

The train was empty when we hopped on but soon filled up very quickly, mainly with men. Women in Delhi have access to a female only carriage on the Metro so that’s where I imagine the women were. I was the only female in our carriage and after a while found it was best to just keep looking down.

After 24 stops (not that I was counting or wishing it would go quicker) we got to Karol Bagh station, jumped in a tuktuk and got to our hotel. That night I slept with my money belt, passport and jewellery.

The next day we woke up and went for a walk and I felt slightly better than I did the night before but I still felt uneasy. We don’t normally use tour companies to travel but thought it would be a good idea in India. I’m glad we did and we booked through Vodkatrain. They provide a Honcho for your group and book your travel and accommodation for you, it’s really laid back but you have access to local help if you need it.

We met our Honcho after our walk and then made our way to the train station to get our overnight train to Aurangabad. The below photo is me before  we got on the train. I was looking forward to getting on there, settling in and relaxing in our cabin.

 

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This photo below is what I first saw when I got on the train. It was nothing like the overnight trains we had been on before. Where were the cabins? Why were there so many people? Where was the attendant checking tickets? Why was it so dirty?

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I was in complete shock and to make it worse we had to walk through the entire carriage to get to our seats at the end. AND THEN, once we got to our seats there was an entire family just sitting there. Apparently they weren’t due to get off the train yet so we had to share and wait until they got off. This happened, not at the next stop like they said but about 4 hours later.

Our Honcho told us not to eat any food that was being sold on the trains as the standards weren’t regulated and some people just got on the trains to sell food. There is what they call a ‘pantry cart’ on the train where they prepare food just for the train goers. We were told to not eat this food either as “there is all of the food and all of the rats in the cart”. Not that I needed much convincing to not eat from there, but this comment just set it in stone. Don’t eat the food.

We eventually managed to set up our beds and go to sleep, however in the middle of the night I needed to go to the toilet and I couldn’t hold on any longer (I had already been holding on for about 10 hours) but the train was moving so fast and it was so dirty in there I had to wake up Mark to come and help me. I just wanted to cry. The toilet was a hole in the floor with foot rests for you to squat over which is what I expected but what I wasn’t expecting was how dirty it actually was if you looked closely and by closely I mean by just allowing your eyes to adjust to the light. Mark had to hold me up while the train moved so I wouldn’t touch any of the walls or fall over in the disgusting mess around us… Safe to say there is no going back now, he is with me for life. Half a bottle of hand sanitiser later and I just wanted to get off the train.

Aurangabad so far hasn’t been too exciting. We went to visit Kailasa Temple which was cool – we got mobbed a lot though by school kids wanting photos. We were told that a lot of them had never seen a Westerner before. Right now though we are waiting to go see an imitation of the Taj Mahal before dinner and before we get on yet another overnight train, this time to Mumbai.

 

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