Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Train Tips

Backing up a bit, I'd like to offer some tips for train travel in India.

1. If you are carrying ridiculous amounts of stuff which you must hire porters to carry you had better be able to swear at them loudly and effectively in Hindi because they will follow you onto the train and after you pay them what you agreed to, they will demand triple the agreed-upon rate, your first-born child and probably also a kidney just for doing their job. (Major props to Chris for dealing with this really intimidating and awful situation skillfully and quickly - I would've been in tears and broke had I been on my own...)

2. Make sure your cell phone has lots of international minutes on it so you can call your mom. There is nothing like talking to cheerful, sane, loving family in the midst of railway insanity.

3. Drink a lot of chai. A LOT. No really, you need to drink more than that. Plan to buy at least 6 cups of chai every time the chai wallah comes by. Why? Because you will have no other sustenance if you forget to...

4. Bring food. A LOT. No really, you need to bring more than that. You may have heard that there is plentiful and delicious food available on Indian trains, but you are mistaken. Chai will be almost the only thing you partake of all day. There will be a biscuit wallah who comes by only twice. The first time he will have many delicious biscuits. You will think it is not yet time for biscuits and let him pass. He will only return again after approximately 82 thousand hours have passed and then he will only have yucky crunchy spicy noodle snacks which you will have to buy and eat in order to avoid eating your family.

5. Play chess on the computer and be sure to thank the powers that be which have equipped the 2-AC car with electrical outlets.

6. Think twice before encouraging your husband to venture off the train to try to buy food at one of the "longer" train stops. (Yes, the schedule says it will be 20 minutes. Don't be fooled. Apparently everything in India takes 3 times longer than anticipated, except for train stops which take about a tenth of the stated time.)

7. If your husband does get off the train and the train starts to leave the station without him you may find solace in the mantra, "He WILL come back, he WILL come back, he WILL come back."

8. Try to sleep because once you reach your destination the REAL fun will begin. Again with the porters. Also beggars, aggressive rickshaw wallahs, Indian men who get too close and stare WAY too long. And then you get in the car...

Good times, folks, good times. Next time I'm bringing food for an army, my fast talking, much-swearing husband, a lot more for Ben to do, and lots more money for the 1st class AC car! Only 4 months until we do it all again...

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