An unsettling train journey

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August 3rd 2017
Published: August 5th 2017
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We left Amritsar in the evening, travelling by train to Delhi. I was very grateful that Rakesh took us to the station, found the right platform and took us to our seats. Amritsar station was really overwhelming with the volume of passengers, noise level, beggars, hawkers, and porters jostling for the opportunity to carry our luggage. Having negotiated the general chaos, we found ourselves in a first-class carriage which was luxurious. Our leather seats were very comfortable and the taller members of the family were thrilled with the generous leg room.

Our six-hour journey ran very smoothly and was punctuated with regular deliveries of food and drink served on trays like an airline. We had samosas, soup with fennel seed flecked bread sticks, vegetable dhal and rice, and finished off with ice cream.

We arrived at Delhi late at night - about 2300 - but perfectly on time. A Rickshaw Travel guide was waiting outside the carriage to greet us on arrival, which was just as well, as the station was heaving - Delhi station has sixteen enormously long platforms, and each was full of jostling crowds.

Our guide helped us negotiate the chaos, leading us through a station forecourt packed with seemingly hundreds of auto rickshaws honking their horns and yelling. We were hassled by porters wanting to carry our bags, and approached by beggars asking for money. The level of poverty was shocking, and the beggars we saw were emaciated and filthy. The station grounds were packed with homeless people, lying on the ground uncovered, trying to sleep. In a few minutes, we had left the peace and luxury of our carriage and stepped into the mayhem of Delhi and its abject poverty.

Brighton has one of the highest rates of homelessness in England, and it is dreadful to see so many people living on the streets. In Delhi, I saw whole families trying to eke out an existence.

Most of this travel blog will tell you about the amazing time we are having exploring the country and its sights and II am very grateful for this. I wouldn’t be telling the whole story unless I reported on the misery that I have witness and the impact that it has had on us all. We talked about it how it has made us feel and we have talked about what we should do in response.

In the morning, we left Delhi train station and set off for Agra. It was much the same story. As we wanted on the platform, we were again approached many times. We had been told to ignore them, but this is easier said than done. We were approached by a young woman about the same age as Molly. The woman was very obviously pregnant, I guess by about five months. I gave her some food, but it left me feeling troubled. I sat on the train thinking about what sort of future her baby will have.


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