NICE NEW HEADER IMAGE – Text over it saying ‘India Diaries 2’
“Chello!” (Let’s go!) I shouted at the guy pedalling furiously in front of me, we were racing the Delhi metro.
I jumped out on all the hills and helped push and drag the bicycle-rickshaw over potholes and piles of half burnt rubbish. Six minutes to go and I still don’t have a ticket, missing this connection is not an option. “My turn!” I yell as the exhausted cyclist flops onto the seat next to my backpack, I swing myself onto the bike and blast my calves for the last, thankfully traffic free, six hundred metres to the station. Jumping off I hurl the bemused wallah a fistful of filthy notes along with a hurried thanks in scratchy Hindi before sprinting to the metro and diving headfirst into a pile of bodies concealing the entrance to the carriage.
PICTURE OF CYCLE RICKSHAW: Caption: A slow way to get around.
Using my rucksack as a shield and lashing out with my elbows I somehow manage to hack my way through the masses and grab a rail for support as the metro lurches away from the station. The journey is just beginning. Three metro changes later and I am at Old Delhi central station. I board the train and hesitantly find my berth. Sleeper class in India consists of row after row of dirty blue leather bunks which ingeniously fold down from the walls to maximise the number of people you can squeeze in a carriage. For privacy there is sometimes a filthy green curtain and for storage there is a sticky table top which is about three square feet and is fought over by up to a dozen people.
Photo of inside of Indian train: Caption: An average Indian sleeper carriage
All manner of hawkers cruise the aisle selling chai, locks, torches, snacks, toys and papers. These colourful individuals make it quite impossible to sleep as they advertise their wares by shouting “chai, chai, chai, CHAAAAII!” or thrusting their heads through the curtain at three in the morning to try and sell you the latest ‘Hindi greatest hits’ compilation.
Booking a train seat itself is a complete ordeal as if you want to do it without using a travel agent (who will rip you off) you need an Indian sim card and an account with the national rail service – this took me bloody ages to work out but once I had it saved me an absolute fortune and I was able to get seats for the same price as the locals. Turning up at the train station is pretty risky as although you can get on the train, you won’t get a seat. Even when you’re on the train, Indians will actively try to steal your seat… They can be fuckers. Train travel in India is certainly an interesting experience, especially if you end up being the only foreigner on the train which I usually was.
It took all of five seconds for my Indian neighbours to enthusiastically begin taking my photo and shaking my hand. Resigned to my fate I happily answered the same questions over and over again. My name is Will, I am nineteen, I am British, I was a student but now I am travelling, I am not married and do not have any children, unfortunately I do not pay much attention to cricket although I am aware that the Indian team is very good. I have no strong opinion on Pakistan, no foreign currency to hand out and yes; you can take my picture.
PICTURE OF PAPARAZZI STYLE PHOTOGRAPHRS – CAPTION: Travelling in India can be point blank ridiculous.
In his excitement at being allowed to pose with his arm around me, one fellow with a walrus moustache manages to dump half of a sickly smelling yellow curry into my lap. The man looks horrified and begs for my apologies whilst dabbing at my crotch with the shirt sleeve of his tunic. Trying not to look annoyed I brush him off and motion for the next eager photograph hunter to step forwards, it’s going to be a long journey…
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ALT IMAGE TEXTS FOR – TRAIN TRAVEL IN INDIA