It’s always amazing to me how things can change on a dime. Last I wrote I was pretty happy and all was well, that has all changed and at the moment I’m a pretty miserable traveller.
When last I left you we were about to take in two half-day tours of Delhi to hit all the major highlights and then get on a night train for Shimla.
The tours were a big disappointment. Our tour guides, two university students, had no interest in educating us on Delhi and spoke only the bare minimum about each site, and offered no interesting insights into life in Delhi. The tour group was a mix of foreigners and Indian people. The foreigners had to sit at the front of the bus and the Indian people at the back. Not sure why. We met an interesting retired Professor of Anthropology from South Korea who had a rough day on the tour. When he took his seat on the bus, someone had previously peed in his seat and he could not detect it was wet because the seats were fabric. When he mentioned it to the
tour guides, their answer was to take a different seat. No apology, no better make sure no one else sits there, nothing. Throughout the tour we had strict rules to
follow. If in some places we had some free time to roam we were told to be back at a certain time as they would leave without us and we would have to taxi to the next destination to catch up. However, we were never informed about the next destination so this would have been difficult. The whole group was good about the timing but on the last site, the Korean professor was running late and we left without him.
With the tour done we had to rush back to Major’s Den, pack and get to the train station to be on time for our 9:25 PM departure. We walked from the hostal to the train station. This was actually my first time walking with all my gear, all 34 pounds, as Sanford had carried it from the airport when I first arrived. It was heavy!!! I was struggling with the weight of it, Sanford assures me it will get easier, but at the moment it is not.
When we reach the train station we find out our train is delayed. According to Sanford that is pretty typical but what is not is the length of time ours is delayed….7 hours!! We have nowhere to go and if we decided to go anywhere we would have to haul our backpacks with us. There were no seats to sit in so we sat down on the dusty cement floor in a spot that looked free of spit and urine and decided to wait it out there. I had a good view to watch as countless men jumped off the platform onto the tracks, whipped out their penis, and starting peeing. I know there are washrooms around but that is not the preferred place to pee. Many parents would lower their children onto the tracks to pee and then lift them up when done. One parent took his three children to the edge of the platform and rather than lift them down to the track had them pee right on the platform where you would have to walk through it to get into the train. After those children peed, the little girl then had a grand time stomping into her pee with her shoes and just spread it around. I never saw a woman pee in public, yet. As I was watching all the peeing going on around me I then noticed a rat come out from behind my backpack, travel against the wall and then into a hole.
Thankfully about this time, a fellow told us about a waiting lounge where we would have chairs to sit on, we didn’t have to sit on the cement. So off we went and sure enough there was a nice area to wait, which had a washroom, and was comfortable. Thank you!!
I was getting hungrier and hungrier as the hours went by. I just had an orange and banana for breakfast and a meal while on the tour. We did not have supper and there was nothing at the train station I wanted. I finished our last banana and orange. This quelled my hunger pangs for a bit, but I was still hungry.
Our train finally arrived and we took off by 4:30 AM. After sitting up all night with occasionally nodding off I was looking forward to our sleeper births to have a few hours shut-eye. The births are in three tiers and Sanford and I had the bottom tier and the upper two levels were filled with four other men. It was cold!! There is no heat on the train and the windows don’t close totally. As warm as I thought I was dressed, it was not warm enough. I just had a towel as a blanket and I used my day backpack as a pillow. I was so cold I couldn’t sleep. My nose was a piece of ice.
We got up by 8:30 AM. The cold was relentless and I took to wearing a pair of knitted slippers I brought with me as gloves. Although I’m off caffeine, I had a cup of chai tea that they constantly bring around to help warm me up.
I am hungry!! I thought I would try and find something to eat when we changed trains at 10:30 but because of how late we left Delhi, there was a train waiting for us and we had to load immediately. This train does a few stops and at one stop Sanford purchased two deep-fried half sandwhiches, the only food sold at this station, and some water. Sanford who has been struggling with diarrhea the last few days is starting to get better but I am starting to not feel good. I’m way too tired, way too hungry, way too thirsty and way too cold. I’m looking forward to getting to Shimla to a heated room, a good meal, lots of water and a good night’s sleep. Just six more hours till we get there.
About two stops from Shimla it starts to snow. We are in a train car with people mostly from Delhi who have never seen snow. They get all excited and rush out at the stop to let some snow fall on them and then watch it melt. They rush back in to show other family members who did not go outside what the snow looks like. They are ecstatic. I want to cry.
We get to Shimla and we have about a 1 km trek, with our backpacks on, to the hotel. Sanford has picked out a higher end hotel to stay at since it is our 12th anniversary coming up and he wanted to give me a treat. We are going to spend three nights here. The room is quite nice, there is a hot water tank, but the rooms are not heated. I can see my breath when I breathe. Turns out for an extra sum you can get a heater. We go for that. The heater doesn’t have a fan so you have to sit within a foot to feel the heat. I’m getting more and more miserable.
I drink a ton of water and we decide to go out to eat. There are no heated restaurants. Even this hotel does not have a heated restaurant. So we head out on the street and walk a couple of kilometers in search of food. We found someplace decent and I order yellow lentils with some rice and a roti. I’m just really upset. The food is hot when it comes but within a minute is cold and I am having difficulty eating it because of the spice combination. I eat as much as I can to quell my hunger and Sanford finishes it.
On the way back we stop and buy a few oranges for the next day. As we’re walking my stomach is starting to give me trouble. I pass some gas, except it wasn’t gas, I pooped myself!! Can this day get any worse!!
We walked as quickly as possible to get back, I showered, cleaned my clothes, sat next to the heater for a bit, and crawled into bed, my nose still cold.
It’s been a couple of rough days.