IN: The Night Train

"It'll be fun," he said, as we set to work on planning our trip to India.

"It'll be an experience, to brag about," he confided after showing me a video of Indian's hanging off the sides of the train.

"We cant say we experienced India, without a ride on the night train," he insisted as we were handed our tickets.

"You're going to HATE it," he mocked, as we feasted before the 10 hour train ride.

"Oh you're going to hate this," he whispered in the taxi ride to the station.

"Do you despise this yet?" he asked, as our guide Mister D hesitated to leave our side.

"Don't put down your bag," Mister D ordered, as I threatened to rest my bag on the floor.

"Stay here," Mister T urged, "I'm going to buy a platform ticket so I can show you to your train.

"This way," Mister T commanded as he told the buskers to get lost. "Follow me," he promised as he lead us to the first class waiting room for India Rail, as we waited for our train the "Doronto Express," to arrive.

For T, the nocturnal voyage on the Night Train was a must. For me it was a pass, that I found myself comprising on in exchange for a few beach days in Goa.

The night spent on the Indian Railway was an experience, and not one I will soon forget. Will I opt for another tickets on an Asian night train, probably not.

The station was hot, hectic, void of order. There were buskers carrying a whole family's worth of luggage on their heads, mothers and toddlers begging, and hundreds of rats lining the tracks.

Thankfully, the first class lounge was an air conditioned room. Much like a typical airport waiting room. Inside, we grabbed a seat and waited for our train, as Mister D listened for arriving train announcements.

As we waited, an elderly gentleman engaged T in a conversation. "Can I tell you something to think on? Can you separate the sun from the sun's rays? Can you separate a word from its meaning? Listen, what do you hear? People talking, but no words. This my friend is chaos. This my friend is India. Welcome to my country.

His welcome speech was rudely interrupted by the blare of the loudspeaker. "Train 12273 from Calcutta to Delhi is now arriving at platform 6."

Mister D, leapt from is chair. "We must go. We must hurry!"

We lingered to ask the older gentlemen if he needed help, he waived his hand and that's the last we saw of him.

"Come now! Hurry," Mister D panicked.

Once again we followed Mister D through the maze of the station. Up, over, across and down. As our train pulled up, our eyes searched for cabin H-1. Mister D aided in getting us settled before leaving us on the train. I think he was afraid to abandon us to the powers of the India Railway.

Our train was scheduled to leave Varanasi at 8:45 pm. The Doronto express was close to 45 minutes late before we eventually began the hull back to Delhi.

I was out of my comfort zone. Anxious, unsure, and hopeful that the would not need to use the trains lavatories. The porter came to take our orders, we declined, and wound up with a cup of ice cream.

"Top or bottom?" T asked.

"Top," I answered as I crawled up.

With in minutes I was asleep. Eagerly awaiting our promises 6:30 am arrival in Delhi. I woke up several times through out the night. Despite needing to use the toilet, I forced myself to stretch my batter, as I was not overly interested in squatting over a hole in a bumpy train ride.

At 6 am, I began to pack up, for disembarkment.

At 6:45, our cabin mate informed us our train is running an hour or so late. At 8:30, we were served tea. At 9:30 breakfast. At 9:45, I couldn't hold it any longer. I was forced to brave the Indian Style restroom. All I can say, is thank god for barre.

At 10:45 water. At 11:15, our room was cleaned. At 12:00 we broke out the cribbage board. At 1:13 our train FINALLY arrived in Delhi (only 7 hours late).

Getting off the train was a challenge. Hordes of people swarmed in front of, and on the train before me could get off. The station stunk, the heat was boiling, and I simply wished to escape the madness.

"I hate this place! I hate this place, I hate this place!" my inner monologue panicked as we seemingly failed to locate our guide.

A few frantic phone calls later, we were found. We followed Ashok to the waiting Taxi. Inside, we both took a deep breath as we welcomed the return of civilization.

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