We packed up our backpacks late last night so we could be ultra-organised to catch our morning train from Jalandhar Junction railway station to the capital of New Delhi. We had the train details delivered to my email address by Garry and we were all set to catch our 3A/C (3rd class air-conditioned sleeper).
We arrived at the station early, but the train in good old Indian fashion was delayed for about 50 minutes. We were on platform 2, so walked up the stairs and over the walkway overpass pulling the #onepinksuitcase behind us and carrying our backpacks. I was sad to be leaving the Punjab, but happy to move on with our travel itinerary and see a city with my family I had first visited two years prior.
We stood on the train platform, waiting and listening for our train’s update – another delay 20 minutes. A train pulled up, and it had our train number on it but it also had another train number on it as well. So we were a bit confused. Steve said our train was still delayed – according to the recent voiceover. So we stood there and watched the many hundreds of people bustle their way into the carriage doors. It was a scrambling spectacle. But as we were soon to discover, in actual fact…yes you guessed it…that was our train. And we watched it go by.
The next train came in, about 20 minutes after, and it was not our train number. After it left and waited for the train number neon sign to refresh and reveal the next incoming train on platform 2, we realised there was something wrong. So Steve marched all the way back up the platform, over the walkway bridge while we stayed on platform 2 minding all the luggage. He returned with that unpleasant smirk on his face, “Yep that was our train and we just watched it go right on past.” The thoughts going through my mind were unpleasant and helplessly dark. “You have got to be kidding,” I replied. “Nope, but I have purchased more tickets for the next train, but…it doesn’t leave until 1:15pm but it has been delayed until 3pm.”
My mind went off line. We were all here, standing and stranded on platform 2 for hours. I knew there was not much out there to bide our time away. There are no cafes to sit at near the station or even a comfy place within the train station. It was 11am, we had already been waiting around for no reason, now what were we to do? “Okay then, everyone grab your packs, let’s go and find somewhere to wait!” I walked off instantly and abruptly, and kept thinking over and over the bloody train was right there. Right in front of us. I should have know that was our train. AGGGGHHHHHH!!!
A long line of walking foreigners, lost and defeated looking, went back up the stairs and over the walkway overpass and back down again to the street to be greeted by a barrage of tuk tuk drivers wanting business. The train that we were meant to catch was travelling straight to New Delhi Railway Station, near where we were staying in Delhi. This new train, the only one going to Delhi today was heading straight to Old Delhi Railway Station, a fair distance away from where were booked to stay. “Great I said, it just keeps getting better doesn’t it?”
We looked out to a sea of nothing – well there was plenty of going on, but there was nowhere for us to sit and wait the four hours. Steve went across the street and checked out a café that had the word ‘Bakery’ on it, but there was no room there, not even to swing a cat. So we retreated back to the railway station after Steve had the idea of lobbing our backpacks and #onepinksuitcase in the cloak room so we could be free to walk around and find somewhere and something to do.
A little old Indian lady managed the Cloak Room. It was a small room, painted white, and as we hauled the luggage in, she was particular about having locks on each and every piece of luggage. We had none. So Steve walked out to the street, there were vendors selling all sorts of travel contraptions, including chains and locks. He purchased some for 20 cents each, and we placed them on our luggage. The she filled out the paperwork, and proceeded to glue the back of the copy of the form onto the #onepinksuitcase. It didn’t quite stick, but stayed in place.
We left feeling free and walked in and around the narrow streets of the railway station. We explored the homes and little shops that people worked at, found a litter of puppies that kept the girls entertained for quite some time, and returned with the idea that we should take a tuk tuk to the nearest coffee place which I quickly googled on my iPhone. There was one not far from the railway station by tuk tuk. So we jumped into an electric 6-seater tuk tuk, no noise so very pleasant on the ears, and got dropped off at a multi storey shopping centre.
As we were getting out of the tuk tuk, guess who we saw? Spanish Rahul and his bride Sonam walking down the street together. They came into the shopping centre with us and we went to Café Day for a sit down and chat. Unfortunately, Sonam was not feeling well in her stomach, so they didn’t stay long and departed. But it was great seeing them again after the wedding. We told them that we had missed the train, and there was much laughter!
We enjoyed a solid two hours sitting at the café, drinking coffee, eating chocolate desserts at lunchtime, and just passing time somewhere comfortable. I was able to get my broken screen Mac out with the extra screen and get some writing done. We packed up, caught another tuk tuk back to the station, got our luggage out of the cloak room, and went to platform 2 for our 3:00pm departure. However…
The train was delayed again and wasn’t going to depart until 6:00pm.
So we found an empty spot on the platform, the girls played cards while I got my camera out and started taking photos of the people on it.
Finally, our train arrived at 6:15pm. There’s always concern as the train rolls in and stops for 2 minutes for new passengers to board – 1) finding where the carriage you are meant to get on actually is, and 2) just getting on with the crowds of people doing the exact same thing. But we managed to find our carriage, and board easily. We had waited all day, but we were now headed to Delhi.
PS The train arrived into Old Delhi railway station very late at 2am. Steve had asked the train conductor to let us know when we had arrived. But he didn’t. And as we half slept, a group of men were at our compartment looking at us to get off! So we raced to get our bags out from under the beds, and all the bits and pieces of papers, books, and so forth. We rushed, and we were blurry eyed, but all six of us were off standing in a daze on the platform at Old Delhi. Then Dacey said she forgot her little booklet where she was keeping track of the numbers of animals she was counting. It was on the bench in our compartment on the train. She had tears streaming down her face, so Steve jumped back on the train, but couldn’t get through due to the bottleneck of people in the aisle. The Ash tried, and made it to our compartment, but we worried that the train was about to depart. I jumped on again, so did Steve and we all searched quickly for this little pocket notebook. But we couldn’t find it. The men in the compartment had so much luggage stacked up on the bench, on the floor that we had to give up the search. Dacey was okay, she was disappointed that she lost her booklet, but we vowed that she would start again with a new booklet.
PPS We decided to use the Uber app and ordered an Uber, but I mistakenly typed the pickup address as the destination address! Steve went hunting around the Old Delhi Railway Station for someone to speak Hindi as we could not understand our Uber driver over the phone. Finally, the destination was rectified, and we had a 6-seater Uber arrive to Old Delhi Railway to deliver us to our accommodation in the heart of New Delhi’s backpacker quarter Paharganj.