Gokarna, India. Our planned ten-hour train ride did take that long – and just a bit longer. We were mentally prepared for that and had expected to get to our next hotel by about 10PM, in time to rest up for our next train at 8AM.
What we weren’t prepared for was the fact that our train was delayed six hours – as announced when we got to the station we were to depart from.
What to do for six hours? It was hot and there were no alluring restaurants to waste the day in. We had all our luggage and were hardly going to check it. Never fear! We had early on been taken in hand by a huge coolie, a fellow who could have stood in for the genie in Aladdin.
He grabbed our luggage and marched us to the nearby TrainView hotel, a place where we could have a room, grab a nap, sit in air-conditioned comfort, and use wifi – what more could we ask?
Given our other option, the hotel looked kind of appealing, though it did have a definite dormitory and rent-by-the-hour pong.
We killed the afternoon, and later were met by our guy and situated on the platform near where our carriage would arrive. We were so looking forward to our first-class air-conditioned compartment!
When the train finally pulled in at 6PM – versus 11:30 in the morning – we were a bit stunned to see that our seating was in a compartment that must date from the early days of Independence. And, perhaps, its last cleaning had been sometime in that era. We did have a door that could close, a/c and fans, and two berths on each side, which could be made up for beds for four, up and down. But the surfaces left something to be desired.
We left the station with no one claiming the other side of the compartment, but were told someone else would be getting on further down the line.
Of all the yucky things about that trip, the very best was that the other person/people never showed. As creepy as it was, we made the place our own and had privacy for the rest of the trip. Don ordered dinner, which was delivered at one of the stops. Think airline food is bad?
We walked through Udupi station crowded with people sleeping on every surface, presumably also waiting for their mystery trains. A cab took us to our hotel, where we had about 90 minutes to “freshen up,” and return, zombie-like, to the station, praying our 8AM train would be relatively on time.
This time we hit the lottery. The station master took us in hand, and told us to sit down. He would get us when our train came in. But since he didn’t tell us that a local train to the same destination was due in right before ours, we panicked when he didn’t appear, and flung ourselves onto a third-class carriage, realizing as it pulled away that we were on the wrong train. I also realized I had left a bag behind in all the confusion. Lots of glares from the crowd, but some wonderful guys got me a seat, and called the station master at Udupi to tell him what happened. He had found our bag! He told us to get off at the next station and take the following, correct, train, which we did, and our bag would be on our seats. The conductor of that train was hanging out the door looking for us, and got us all settled – along with our bag. When things work here, they really work. We had a lovely compartment all to ourselves, and a chance to finally stretch out.
We arrived at our ultimate destination almost exactly on time, and were met by a driver to take us to our next hotel. It is much more than just a hotel, however, and a story unto itself, but I just wanted to share our story of 24 hours of travel.