Thursday 31st March 2011
I decided to keep my room for another night, as the train to Delhi wasn’t due to depart until 22:30, but of course I didn’t want to stay the whole night. This threw Yogis Guest House into a state of confusion as they wanted to charge me half price for staying after checkout time, but they wanted to add this to the three nights which I was prepared to pay for.
They were simply unable to grasp the concept that I had only stayed two nights, yet was prepared to pay for three. Over and over again. Frantic phonecalls to try to find the boss. After twenty minutes I had to switch to being in charge again. I wrote down on a sheet of paper Tuesday Night 800 rupees, Wednesday Night 800 rupees, Thursday Night 800 rupees. Total 2400 rupees. OK?
Yes sir. Then you pay only half price for today. 2800 rupees.
Oh for goodness sake it is only Thurdsday day time today…
… finally they gave in, but were totally convinced I was trying to con them. I therefore insisted on written receipt which caused another ten minutes of mayhem while they refused and even told me it was illegal. I waited patiently until the necessary form was completed in triplicate.
Out in the heat of the night, I walked down to the station, leaving just long enough to find the Midtown restaurant which I had failed to locate a couple of nights ago. Finally I found it – the Rough Guide makes it look like it is on the road outside the station, but instead it is actually on a main wide road directly opposite the station. A good find it was too – very clean with promises of all vegetables being washed in purified water etc.
Back to the station then – the train 14060 Jaisalmer to Delhi Express was the longest train I have ever seen. At least 24 carriages. A dozen were arleady standing on platform 1 about half a mile away – these were the carriages starting from Jodhpur while the rest of the train had arrived on platform 3 before being taken away and brought back into platform 1. Thanks the the new LED displays which mark the location of each carriage, I was happy that things were going to work out OK, but it was about 10:45pm before carriage HA1 appeared at its allocated space.
HA1 is a good carriage number. It designates a split first 1AC and 2AC carriage, with three compartments in First, and twenty berths in 2AC, and despite looking like a typical wreck, this one was only a year old, according to the builder’s plate. Unlike the rest of the train which was either sleeper or second unreserved, and therefore very busy, this carriage was a little cool calm oasis, where most of the other beds were already occupied and everyone was asleep.
I made up my bunk and climbed in and slept all the way until Delhi with vague recollections of stopping at Jaipur at 5am.
We came in to Old Delhi station on Platform 1 which is where I first came in to the station two weeks ago. Other Europeans in the train were convinced this couldnt possibly be Delhi, and so remained sitting, but I knew the way, up over the enormous footbridge and onwards to the main station at the far side, where I collected my bag from the Cloak Room and headed for breakfast.
The final leg of the journey was starting – a rickshaw to New Delhi Station to catch the Airport Express Metro back to the airport. A quick security scan before being allowed into the station, 80 rupees fare paid and within 30 minutes of arriving at New Delhi Metro, I was at the airport. My blue token was rejected by the exit machine though so there was a minor crisis in which I was required to go to Customer Services who wanted to see the printed ticket issued alongside the blue plastic chip, which I had fortunately retained. They were able to tally the token to the printout and therefore let me through but it just goes to show that in India, never throw anything away.
Delhi Airport is immaculately presented – I had treated myself to a Business Class upgrade as far as Dubai which gave me access to the brand new Emirates lounge with as much free food and drink as I could manage, and comfortable chairs with wifi. And so here I am sitting for the last hour before the flight departs.