Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

Wishing you a great New Year and may this year bring you more than you ever imagined!
We will be spending New Years on a train en route to Darjeeling. The trip will take just over 24 hours. The funny thing is I should be at on the train right at this moment! We woke at 4am this morning in order to get to the station by 6am for a 6.40am departure. So we arrive at the station and it is already chaos we have no idea where to go and our train is not listed on the schedule so we head to the enquires counter and join the massive queue. It was probably one of the first times that I really felt people watching us, usually I don't notice it but today I was particularly conscious of all the eyes on us. So we finally talk to the man in the booth who confirms our train is delayed by nearly 3 hours. GREAT! So we thought we would see if we could find the tourist waiting room. On the way we encountered several touts trying to tell us that our train would be even latter and that we could change our tickets to another train... yeah sure. It was too early for the tourist office to be open nor the waiting area so we decided we may as well go home and wait. Our driver had already left so we thought we may as well get a taxi. Shekhar from Dia Vikas gave us a heads up that a taxi would cost about 400 rupees. So we step outside and are immediately approached by a driver. When we asked how much he quoted 85o because of the toll. We said no 400 rupees and we would pay the 20 rupee toll. he would not agree so we said forget it we will call or driver. Eventually he capitulated and gave in at 500 rupees including toll. That didn't stop him for asking for toll money when we got to the toll though. When we got home he asked for a tip as well. But we stuck up a deal saying if he waited until 10am he could drive us back to the station for another 500. DEAL. It is worth it for him to get the ride back.

We have been to New Delhi station 3 times now. The first time we parked there while we went to the markets across the street. For such a busy hub there is surprisingly little parking. The parking lot is about the size of two tennis courts. Cars park in rows as per usual and then the aisles between are filled as well. The car must be left in neutral with the handbrake off so the parking attendant can roll it out of the way to let other cars out. Picture a life size version of the game of rush hour. In Australia we do not utilise our bumper bars nearly enough for their intended purpose.
The second trip to the station was to book our tickets... what an ordeal. We hoped out of the car and head for the tourist booking office. Touts immediately approach us and tell us it is closed and that they cannot book return tickets tickets between cities other than Delhi. We are told we much go with them to a tourist office to make all our bookings. Undeterred we head for the office which of course is open and can book all our tickets. In fact there is a sign saying "do not listen to touts that tell you the office is closed and that tickets cannot be booked for trips outside of Delhi"
The booking procedure is hardly straight forward and is cash only in the form of US dollars, pounds, Euros or rupees. We don't have enough on us so we had to walk back out into the chaos to the ATM and withdraw a massive wad of rupees. After filling out all the forms twice and two hours our tickets are booked.

So the time has come to head back to the station...
We hope you all have a great New Year and will fill you in on our trip soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your wishes to us. We from Holland wish you also a very healthy an prosperous year. We really like the stories you are telling. Have you had a glance on the family meeting on facebook with oma Anneke and oom Rob, who is the half brother of opa Bob. This meeting was on 20th december. Greetings from Tante Ingrid and oom Joop.