See below for my previous troubles getting in and out of the pleasant holiday resort of Darjeeling, however I am pleased to report that I've left and am now in Patna which I would affectionately describe as either the Milton Keynes or Bradford of India. But this post is not about Patna but about my journey to Patna.
If I've learnt anything about myself so far it's that I much prefer being places than travelling to them. I suspect this is not an especially ground breaking opinion and may be one held by lots of people, nevertheless I feel it's a slightly ironic view for someone who wishes to call himself a traveller to hold. My feelings may also be coloured by the fact that I find it a pain to get anywhere in India.
So, Dareeling to Patna. With my train from Siliguri at 2.30pm it wasn't possible for me to take the Toy Train (not that I wanted to). So I went down to the bus stand, for the 2nd time, and successfully managed to buy a ticket to Siliguri for Rs82. However the jeeps only leave once they are full and I was the first person in the jeep. This meant a wait of over an hour during which I pondered furiously how much I'd have to fork out in order to not miss my train. Eventually though two families got on and a couple of Indian guys and 2 more travellers. Then as we were filling up with petrol another Indian guy got on and sat where I was sitting; the seats behind the driver. There were now four of us sitting in a space designed for three people, or at maximum four skinny people and I was sitting next to a Kiwi who in his words was "broad-shouldered".
I was really uncomfortable for 40 minutes. Then the driver turned the radio on and the rest of the journey was accompanied by Indian rock music. I'd discovered a most effective form of torture.
After I levered myself out of the jeep in Siliguri I then took an auto-rickshaw. They are terrifying, I kept clinging onto the seat and my rucksack and trying to stay as central in the vehicle as I could. It's good practise for Thailand I suppose but I did not enjoy the moment when we got hit from behing by another auto rickshaw and something fell off the back. I don't know what it was as I was busy smiling benignly at passing and honking motorists.
Still I got to the station on time and then spent the next 12 hours being interrogated by 2 would be judges (seriously, men training to be judges) on the prejudices of the British against India and Britain's non existant constitution. I was then mocked for reading on the train and not liking the spicy railway food. I didn't warm to them.
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