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Published: December 1st 2006
Remarkably, I had managed to sleep and woke up to watch the sunrise from my bunk. We stopped occassionally for the men to pee but with no cover each time I was compelled to hold on. Eventualy we made it to Indore and I went off in search of my promised train to Jalgaon... ummmm. By train it involved an afternoon journey to Chandwa - which is not even listed in the Lonely Planet and then to hop on to the numerous - noone could be more specific, trains to Jalgaon, which would probably arrived in the dead of night, not a good bet. So I opted again for the bus.
First finding the bus station and then buying what I thought was a ticket for the overnight bus to Chandwa, I was about to find a nice hotel and settle into a lazy day when suddenly a commotion broke out and I was pushed towards a moving bus and told to leap on! It was 9.45 am not pm.
The bus really was not up to standard and nothing in comparison to my previous experiences, no pretty garlands, painted windows, or loony driver but I found a seat and sat back to enjoy the ride. It made a pleasant change to travel by day as you really get a chance to see the countryside and all the changes as I make my way down South, there is a noticeable different from Rajasthan and the mountains. Almost uninhabited with rolling rocky hills, the odd tree, in fact the only sign of life seemed to be road and waterway construction sites.
With Hinglish (Hindu cum English), I'd worked out that the train station in Chandwa was near the bus stand but almost got caught out by the auto driver until a kind gentleman pointed out that it was literally across the road and guided me to the entrance. Purchasing my ticket to Jalgaon (finally), I was again rushed to the platform over the bridge, my rucksack getting heavier with each step and the lack of sleep, food and need to pee not helping and told to board the first train. I found the ladies (2nd class waiting lounge) - all frightfully civilised or so I thought and to my delight saw a loo! but as with all loos in the last 24 hours this one was blocked, and I caused much giggling in the waiting room as I pointed this out but was reassured that yes it was - needs must and all!!
As the afternoon ticked by, I was relieved to hear the sound of the train pulling in and threw myself with all the locals onto the train to try and get a seat. In amongst lots of pushing and shouting I secured myself and my luggage, having lost the water in the mayhem, a space on top of the luggage rack and sat back to enjoy the ride. I must have looked quite a sight but just before the train set off, I was besigued by men telling me I was on the wrong train - it was heading in the wrong direction I think, and my luggage and I were literally carried off the train over all the passengers and dumped back on the platform.
The wait continued... at last the train pulled in and not being able to face the scrum again I jumped onto 2nd Class A/c where I was told in no uncertain terms that I had the wrong ticket but luckily a kind woman took pity on me and let me share her bed. Rs 250 later I had upgraded and spent the rest of the journey chatting to an Indian family and sharing thier sweets.
I arrived in Jalgaon - a quick barter with the auto driver, the adrenalin had kicked in and I arrived at the hotel, to see my first Westerner in 24 hours - a friendly Aussie called Tony. Declining his offer to share a room, there were only doubles, I had a fantastic hot bucket shower in the dark as the power went just as I'd latered up the shampoo!
Mr friendly hotel owner also ran the rather posh restaurant next door, totally not in keeping with the town - leather booths and a fully stocked bar. We enjoyed a great meal and my first beer in many days, it was good to chat to someone normally, only stopping when we were handed a note by the waiter saying - 'the front door is closing, leave please'. Rather baffled we made our way through the other diners who showed no intention of leaving and found out later that the restaurant only had a licence till midnight and there was a possibility it may be raided by the police as it was after hours and election time!
I slept like a baby.
(ps more photos to follow when I get it sorted!)
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