Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Sunday, December 18, 2016

5:30am at New Delhi Train Station Platform 1

When I came down the 7 short flights of steps from my rooftop guesthouse at 4:45am, the taxi wallah was parked outside the gate, and sleeping in the backseat of his taxi under a thin blanket. It's not cold to me here, coming from Seattle's winter, but to Delhi people it's still early spring. The fact that the poor guy was even there that early to make my 5am pickup ensured I added another 100 rupees tip to the 500 rupee fare. I was off to Agra on a long day trip to see the Taj Mahal. Despite the crazy traffic jam in the dark foggy station parking lot, and the random touts rushing the cab with unsolicited advice, I found a real train station employee, repeatedly challenging him: "do you really work for the station?" Once I was convinced I put my bag on unstaffed bag scanning machine and went up some stairs to platform 1.!I knew which way to go, as helpful taxi wallah pointed it out to me. Everything seemed mad in the station, with people sleeping on every flat surface, the ubiquitous stray dogs wandering about, people crossing the tracks in the half light, etc. Yet, despite the public announcements sincerely apologizing for this train or that being 3 hours late, the 12002 Bhopal Shatabdi train was miraculously on time. My seat in packed Car 6 was deeply stained, and I barely glanced at the filthy galley as I climbed onboard. All I can think is, thank goodness I'm wearing wash n wear cotton clothing. But then things improved as the caterers started handing out bottles of water, a copy of today's Hindustan Times, morning milk tea and cookies, and finally potato croquettes with brown bread and a packet of tomato ketchup for breakfast. I guess my 590 rupee Chair Class, CC, includes meals. The guesthouse charged me a 90 rupee fee to do the online booking for me. Well worth it when you finally experience Delhi's central station for the first time.

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