Friday 10th January 2014:
The Railway Children: Jaipur to Jodhpur
We experienced the true Indian railway service today. We were booked on the 12.20 Jaipur-Jodhpur Intercity Express Train. This journey is known also as the High Court Express as it links the two sitting cities of the Rajasthan High Court.
Prepared, we arrived at the station armed with the number of stops and station names so we could track our progress along the way. Years of taking the train in Ireland and the inaudible announcements helped.
Not long after settling in we were told the train was going to be 2hrs delayed. I say delayed, but this is of course India, 2 hours arrival adjustment more like 😃. To make the most of the newly found waiting time we headed for some brunch – Masala Dosa.
Consisting of rice, lentils, potato, curry leaves and methi and served up with some chutneys and sambar (stew) this is the best breakfast!
After our food we checked the departure board again and we discovered the train was delayed further to 3.35pm. Encumbered with all our bags it didn’t seem like we had much choice but to wait it out in the waiting room, metal seats, Bollywood movies and toilets almost on par with the train we were waiting for. Time was spent pouring over our Lonely Planet, updating our diaries and writing some draft blog entries.
Another announcement delayed to 17.05pm. Almost there then.. next announcement delayed to 17.35…. At 17.15 we make our way through the rush hour crowd to platform 5, waiting anxiously for our long awaited train. A local lady pushes past us balancing a bag on her head, no time for pardons.
At 17.30 a train pulls in- we look for the A1 coach- not there,all 2nd class.
We realise this is a local train and not our train. Where is our train??? We start to consider a plan B when John’s sixth sense kicks in…maybe there was a platform change? No announcement, the train is no longer on the board…did we miss it after the 5 hour wait. Surely not. Back to Waiting Room 16 and more hanging about when the men at the station advise after a long minute the train is due ‘very soon’ on Platform 3. Mad dash across the stairways to Platform 3, the famous train 14865 to Jodhpur is on the platform board and coach A1 glitters in front of us – all we needed was that train to arrive. It did so at 6pm precisely.
If only we had been told the 6hr delay at 12 we could have done something for the day…late late arrival in our homestay- let’s hope they are still up. We had left a message. Would they be at the other end?
A long 5hr and 30 min train journey ahead. Welcome to India! We were feeling sorry for ourselves until we spoke to our new train companion, he had been waiting on platform 5 for the whole 6 hrs. No waiting room or Masala dosa for him!
As the sunset over the horizon our terrain changed from grasslands to desert as we entered the eastern fringes of the Thar Desert. Jodhpur lies in the scrub zone next to the desert proper.
As our train rolled along the route we decided it was time to rethink the unconfirmed 17hr train to Mumbai from Udaipur.
Currently we are knee deep on the the waiting list. You see the Indian Railway system is like a lottery – you can reserve the chance to get a seat on a train and it’s only confirmed on the day of departure.
We don’t want to risk missing any of wedding celebrations. The first task for tomorrow…look at some flight options.