Terrorist attack on our train lines Kolkata to Varanasi

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Asia » India » West Bengal » Kolkata
February 7th 2010
Published: March 21st 2010
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7/2/10: The train stopped at 12:30 in the middle of the night and with myself drifting in and out of dream land I didn’t realise until 4:00 in the morning that we hadn’t move in over three to four hours, I thought the train must of broke down. It wasn’t until 7:00 in the morning that I managed to get myself out of bed to unwillingly go to the train toilet. It wasn’t until 8:00 that I found out that our train line to Varanasi was bombed by a Terrorist attack at 11:30 last night and we were only an hour from where it took place. With our ETA being 10:00am we didn’t leave the train station of Madhapur until 12:00am and had another full 12-13hrs to go. We were pissed off only because now we had to negotiate Varanasi in the dark and from what we had heard it was a harder town to travel then Kolkata.
We tried to keep our sanity as much as possible and being stuck on the small uncomfortable seats for 30hours really takes a lot out of you. We continuously stopped at other stations on the way and some stations just sat there for 20min just waiting. This was the BUHTI express train and there was nothing express about it. We stopped at one station with our carriage parked right out front of a dead guy, he was on a stretcher with half the sheet pulled over his body revealing a blotted face with his eye’s slightly popping out of his head. He looked to have been dead for several days and I wondered how long he had been lying at the train station. There were subtle hints of decomposition that wafted through the carriage and Jacinta didn’t even want to acknowledge that this was even possible. We started to get hungry and we better equipped ourselves for the train trip by buying some instant noodles and an electric element that plugs into a normal power point to boil water within one minute. We were so looking forward to the noodles and held out right to the last moment because there were only two power points in the train carriage and absolutely everyone wanted to use them to charge their mobile phones. With one quick window of opportunity we had everything ready to only find out that the power point wouldn’t draw large amounts of power, so with no more Indians coming onto the train with food we had to go hungry. It was 12:00 at night by now and we just woke up from our third sleep to kill some time. We arrived at Varanasi train station hopping we wouldn’t have to sleep there the night. The train station was packed and there people sleeping everywhere waiting for delayed trains because of the bombings. Apparently a month ago due to the cold weather the fog affected the trains right across the middle of India and they had delays of up to 36 hours. We had an Indian that latched onto us as soon as we got off the train, his brother had a prepaid tuk tuk waiting that would take us to the any hotel we wanted to stay at. Problem was our hotel didn’t want to wait up for us so we had to find another one at 1:30 in the morning in a strange place with no idea where we were going and a tuk tuk driver we had never meet before or didn’t know if we could trust. We tested his patience by waiting for our new deaf friends that we didn’t see get off the train and started to hope they hadn’t gotten off at an earlier stop. After 10-15min of waiting there was no sign of them and the tuk tuk driver was very patient and understanding. This was a good sign for us and with information from the hotel saying that it should only cost 70rs for a tuk tuk to the church crossing we settled on 80rs because it was night and it was slightly dearer to travel at night. So knowing that he didn’t try to rip us off help with to trust him some more. We took the plunge got in and motored some 15minutes away through narrowing streets that were filled with cows and dogs, there were still some people walking around at this time of the night and most of them carried big rifles. There was an enormous amount of cow shit and rubbish on the poorly paved roads and it was rough going in the tuk tuk. We ended up stoping at six guest houses and it was starting to look really bad for us as all the accommodation was booked out for an upcoming festival. Half way through waking up every guest house we met up with our deaf friends that were also looking for accommodation and with a quick wave from our tuk tuks it was good to see they were alright and seemed to have everything in control, probably more so than us. With our last guest house before a radical decision would have to be made we found a room with an attached bathroom that was in our price range. It was a great feeling to know we had finally made it and our tuk tuk driver was so patient and tried his very best to find us something so we gave him 100rs instead of 80rs. He was very gracious and thanked us for the tip. It was time to have a cold wash in the 15 degree temp, some well deserved noodles and off to bed by 2:30 in the morning. It will no doubt be a train trip we won’t forget in a hurry until something else tops it.

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