Trains vs Buses – Hardiwar, India

My last few days in Rishikesh were spent working on the book. I was so moved by everyone’s support I felt a renewed sense of purpose. I also felt a slight bit of pressure, now realizing that I had better put out something top-quality if I didn’t want to let everyone down. It is a fine are revising without losing the essence of who and where I was at that delicate point of my life. I was so glad to have found a copy editor in my new friend Sarah who agreed to assist me in the project.

I was really looking forward to learning to make gulab jamen but it turned out to be an empty promise. I stocked up on apple cakes to share with my friends as I said my goodbyes. I headed back across the ganga on the water taxi one last time before heading to the bus station. I met up with Lena and Triin then we climbed onto the local bus to Delhi. We made sure it would stop in Hardiwar where we could jump off and catch our train.

Everyone knows that train travel is far superior to buses in India. We were lucky enough to get a few of the last “tatkal” quota tickets on the otherwise completely sold out route. I still don’t understand how the railway ticketing works but somehow people seem to get to where they are going. Even if that means squishing seven onto a three person bench or standing for eight hours at a time. The more dangerous and less reliable buses are also very inconvenient if you happen to be suffering a case of Delhi Belly. At least the trains are equipped with private holes in the floor otherwise known as Indian squat toilets. On the bus, you just have to hold it and sometimes that like trying to stop a heat seeking missile searching the sun. I guess those embarrassing explosive plumbing problems are all part of the Indian initiation process.

Our bus had mechanical problems and although we also got stuck in a traffic jam, we still made it to the train station with a half hour to spare. Or so we thought. Lena was going to charge her phone with minutes but luckily she couldn’t or we would have surely missed the train. As we were walking down the platform trying to locate our sleeper car, the train lunged ahead suddenly. We all panicked and jumped on. We were confused and had to triple check that we were infact on the right train. Why was it leaving twenty minutes early? An early train? Expect the unexpected, I guess.

We all settled into the top bunks and hunkered down for the next eight hours. Lena slept right through it and Trinn battled for legroom with cheeky bottoms. I tried to read but couldn’t focus. I tried to sleep but couldn’t relax. I just laid there and thought. As if I haven’t been doing enough of that lately. India has been quite a trip but I was so relieved it was almost over. I guess I was proud of myself for sticking to it for almost five months but I really am wearing thin.

In those last days, I seemed to get unusually clumsy. A lot of the buildings have grey marble stairwells which paired with slippers, are a recipe for disaster. I remember thinking at the beginning of my time here how awful it would hurt to fall down those stairs. I avoided it for a good five months but then the inevitable came to pass. I sustained heavy bruising on my arms and backside but the most painful was my swollen sprained left thumb. I left India black and blue and bloody and scarred. Inside and out.

Grateful for travel partners.

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