Today’s task was supposed to be simple: book a train ticket to someplace near Manali, board said train and travel towards said town. Nothing complicated or confusing.
However, after several confusing waits in several confusing lines at the confusing and rather complicated train station, I was reconsidering my ability to accomplish the aforementioned. I figured, “Hey! I’ll let the corner travel agent book the rail portion of my journey to Manali instead and avoid further grief and heat exhaustion.” I found a place encouragingly labeled “Nepal Adventure Tours,” immediately giving me a warm and fuzzy feeling and compelling me to wander inside. Their air-conditioned office was an added bonus.
I had no idea what the closest train station would be, so I explained my goal and told the agent I was also bringing a bicycle along. He informed me I’d be traveling to Kathgodam and catching a bus from there. For me, my bike, and A/C he told me it’d be 3500 Rupees (about $64). In the meantime, the internet cafe across the way had opened up, so I stepped over and googled it: official IndiaRail fare was 1090 Rupees for that passage, no extra charge for the bike. He was unimpressed. “Go book it yourself, then.”
Well fine. Why not? I was suffering from a heat-induced case of whiney whiteboy laziness after all.
After yet another set of confusing lines in the bustling reservation center (a half kilometer down the road, not attached to the rail station at all), lots of confusing signage in devanagari, and numerous very helpful local guys, I got the ticket purchased. On the downside, in the time it took me to figure it out today’s train had sold out. The earliest train was tomorrow evening–no AC, but a night train with reserved space in the sleeper car for a whopping 305 Rupees. No charge for the bike. That’s $5.50 ‘Murcan money.
“Suck on that Mr. Give-Nepal-A-Bad-Name Douche-Bonnet,” I say to myself, dancing around the reservation center, ticket in hand, fantasizing about wandering back to his shop and spitting on the storefront window, laughing.
I’ve gone from heat-induced laziness to heat-induced overkill in the space of 305 Rupees.
As an added bonus, I have become exceptionally adept at physically preventing people of Indian heritage from cutting in front of me in line, be they man, woman, or child. And you should trust me on this: queuing up to any sort of door, window, or counter is something akin to bloodsport here. It doesn’t matter how long the line is or who is in it, newcomers will attempt to walk straight up to the window and insert themselves immediately after the person currently being, errrr, serviced.
Keeping the world safe from Douch Bonnets
(and disorderly Queue Insertions),
‘Tis still moi,
Tomorrow, another sweltering day in Gorakhpur, ending with a nice, comfy overnight train ride into Uttarakhand. Yes, the place where thousands of people are still missing and presumed dead from the tragic monsoon flooding two weeks ago. But have no fear–I’ll be sure to remain high and dry. Well, at least the former. I mean the latter. I mean the former. I mean…ahhhhhh nevermind.