India solo

Trainjourney from hell - Wednesday, November 14, 2001

I arrived in Rishikesh yesterday. On the way here I had an unforgettable train journey from Agra to Tundla (a town 26km from Agra where I had to change train to Haridwar). From Agra to Tundla it is supposed to take about 30 min. It took 4 hours! The train moved for about 5 minutes each time, then had 20-30 minutes stops and no one seemed to know why?)

I didn't have a reserved seat since it was supposed to be such a short trip. So I was squeezed among 20 staring men next to the latrine! It stank. About a meter from me was 3 military guys with a prisoner on a leach and some heavy guns. Luckily there was a nice man from Lucknow, a professor in Persian languages in fact (not that it matters). He was a bit concerned for me and wondered why I was stuck were I was. He kept my spirits up tho' and he was nice to talk to.

In Tundla I had to wait a few hours for my connecting train. Since this was late at night I was happy to see that there was a ladies waiting room. So I seeked refuge there. When time came to look for my train I first managed to step onto a wrong train and it was a shocking experience. It was so full of people and many of them seemed very sick , poor or crazy. Luckily I found someone to ask if I was on the right train. I found out just in time that I was not. I was on the one going to Varanasi. No wonder there were a lot of pilgrims, Holy men and so on there. I managed to get off just before it left the station.

In the end I found the right train. I had reserved a place in the second class sleeper, which was totally ok. I didn't sleep much though. First time ever alone in a train like that could make anyone a little nervous:) It was about 9 hours to Haridwar. From there another hour on a bus to Rishikesh.

The Ganga - Rishikesh

Rishikesh is much more laid back than Agra and the nature and scenery is great. It is set in a valley and the holy river Ganges is running through here. I think actually this is more or less where it begins. I even dipped my feet in it.

Today is Diwali. A big Hindu festival. Everywhere they have decorated with lights in all kind of colours and they send up fireworks and firecrackers all the time!