Overnight train: Amritsar to Delhi

IMG_4438I signed up for this tour because it involved a significant amount of train travel, including three overnight trips in sleeper carriages. After my Japan trip last year, I wanted to do more travel by rail. And what better way to see the vastness of India than by train?

We boarded our train for Delhi early in the evening, traversing the puddles and mud that moated the station. Luckily, we didn’t have to walk far to be on the right platform. The wrong platform would have meant a significant walk and a number of stairs up, and a number of stairs down, followed by another significant walk.

The train was late, but this is India—a phrase I’ve heard a lot in the last couple of days. It simply means that one just has to go with the flow, because one can’t control what’s going on. Things happen, and they do happen, but in their own good time. If I get one positive thing from this trip—and I don’t mean to be facetious or disingenuous—it will, I think, be patience.

We found our carriage, and boarded. I was acutely aware that my luggage needed repacking. My backpack was unwieldy, and while I was carrying much less than Japan, it seemed like more here, particularly with the tight squeeze through carriage doors. It was clear that I needed to ditch my daypack.

IMG_4433I knew that our bunks would be six per section, with three top bunks, three bottom. The demographics of our group demanded that the younger, agile members—of which I was one—take the top bunks. We sat around on the bottom bunks for a while chatting after we pulled out of the station. We were disappointed that no one had brought booze, even though it was explicitly banned. Tourists are such rebels—I am consistently surprised that more don’t get in trouble than currently do.

The bunks were narrow, but a care package of two sheets, a blanket and a pillow were allocated to each bunk. There was a storage spot for shoes and water and incidentals. I even charged my iPhone. The chaiwallahs came around, offering hot, sweet tea and snacks. For a price, of course. In India, everything has a price. Nothing—and I mean nothing—is ever—and I mean ever—free.

IMG_4435-0I made my bed, then monkey-style, climbed up onto my bunk. It was hot, so we turned on the fan. While I was hopeful I’d sleep, I wasn’t expecting to. My expectations were correct. It ended up being a tad on the chilly side, and my pillow was too flat. I was conscious that I was sleeping in what were essentially dorm conditions, with snorey people. But it was remarkably quiet. I dozed, drifted in and out of crazy dreams, until I needed to pee at 5am. (The stop-start of train meant I was always on the edge of sleep, not quite able to fall into the abyss, until the the train stopped. Or started.) So I climbed out of my bunk, monkey-style, peed, and went back to bed and dozed some more before being woken by Indira—our guide—telling us we only had a half an hour until we reached Delhi station.

I have to say I have had worse conditions to sleep in while in transit, planes being Exhibit A. While the train bunk wasn’t exactly like sleeping on cloud, at least you could stretch out.

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