July 11, 2013

Train to Amritsar: All Aboard!!!!

Upon checking in at the hotel here, we were greeted at the door and anointed. 

On Tuesday July 9th we left Delhi  on an early train to Amritsar. This was our first train experience.  

Even at 6:15 in the morning the Delhi Train Station was hot, crowded and dirty. To enter the main terminal we had to haul our bags through the security X-Ray Thing, but nobody was there to view the contents of our bags.  I don't  think the X-Ray Thing was even turned on.  

Next, the UP escalator was not working, so we all had to haul our heavy luggage up three landings. Ever notice how your suitcase gets heavier and heavier when climbing stairs?  We were all drenched with sweat by the time we boarded our air-conditioned train. But then guess what. We then had to  lift and place our heavy suitcases on the over-head rack. 

Oh. Good. Grief.  My suitcase, which weighed 30 lbs this morning now seemed to weigh60  lbs.,  and even though I managed to haul it up over my head, I couldn't push it fully onto that rack. The image of Atlas holding the world over his head flashed through my mind and my arms began to tremble before my friend Mary came to the rescue and helped me PUSH my big bad suitcase onto that rack.  

The 6-hour train ride was uneventful. Looking out the window we saw men squatting down by the road, doing their Morning Business. Yes, toilets are scarce in the smaller villages. What is NOT scarce, however, are cows and pigs, all milling around the villages. We saw plenty of rice paddies and  some corn fields. Small red-brick homes dotted the flat green landscape. There seemed to be plenty of water for the farmlands. I'm not sure if this was due to the heavy monsoon rains or to irrigation.  The closer we got to Amritsar,  I saw  more farmers and water buffalo working in lots and lots of lush green rice paddies. 

Speaking of water, I was a bit hesitant to use the toilet on the train, so I didn't drink anything on the trip.  Now my friend Mary was curious and went to investigate the train toilet situation. I couldn't believe it when she reported that when she looked down into the toilet, SHE SAW THE TRAIN TRACKS ZIPPING PAST THROUGH A HOLE.  With this bit of news, I decided to wait until we reached the hotel to use the bathroom. 

When we arrived and took our cabs for the hotel, I noticed how Amritsar was nowhere near as populated as Delhi. This "small town feel" was a pleasant surprise.  I also noted how we must have just missed a heavy rainfall because there was extensive street flooding.  We had to lift our luggage and weave around the ankle-deep flooding outside the Amritsar Train Station. All in all, we were all glad to arrive at our hotel and begin a new round of exploration.  Namaste!

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