I enjoyed Varanasi a lot but now it’s time to move to Kolkata. I just didn’t know yet I will be facing the worst nightmare: having a cancelled train in India.
I had my ticket bought from this scam agency a while ago, so before leaving the Bunkedup Hostel I ask the reception guy to please help me check if this train was delayed – as so usually is. He looks at me with a fun smile and says: YOUR TRAIN WAS CANCELLED PAULA! I’m like WHAT? Please don’t kid me about this matter or I’ll have a heart attack. I asked several times, we were both laughing as I just didn’t want to believe him. Until he shows me on the computer. I freaked out.
So, why was it so terrifying for me? If you have seen the post about my 1st day in India you will understand. Based on my experience this could just mean really bad things. I’m moving to Kolkata as I have a flight in 2 days to Myanmar. So, in my last acquisition for a train in India, I needed to buy an available ticket 2 days in advance. This was already freaking me out. I need to get to Kolkata!!! I ask him what should I do as I have no clue. I don’t have a train and I have everything planned accordingly with that train, reserved stay also. He says to me that there are other trains going to Kolkata that day. Yeah but I’m like, they are always full (was my thought). Reception guy tells me to go there anyway and talk to the tourist help office to figure out what can I do. I have no other chance! I leave the Hostel with any sure that I wouldn’t be there later as I had nowhere else to sleep.
I head to this tourist office that pushes me to another person, then that person to the other one, and then another one and no one could help me. I was already kind of yelling at them as I state is not my fault the train is cancelled I paid my ticket and now I wanna go on another train without paying nothing else. Of course, I needed to pay for another ticket. He advises me to another man that was my lifesaver that day for helping me so gently figuring out what to do…
I just followed him and did everything as he said. I had a ticket for a sleeper train in India as I would spend the night on travel. I couldn’t buy a sleeper ticket at that time and that was terrifying. What do you mean? Do I have to sleep on top of 100 Indians in general class? I wouldn’t do it never in my life alone in India! For me, it looks so risky knowing their opinions about women. I wouldn’t do that even if it costs me the double to find another solution. About that, I was pretty sure. I wouldn’t risk my safety in India.
So, he tells me a way to proceed. I bought this general ticket for around 1€ a train ride of 15h and he tells me to go anyway to the sleeper class and get an upgrade inside the train. I wasn’t feeling so sure about this as I saw before that everyone has is own place to be, you can’t stand anywhere in between and also because I thought the trains were always full, which apparently appears to be a lie that I just found on my last ride. I don’t feel very safe doing this. Where will I stay meanwhile this train guy doesn’t appear. I haven’t paid to be there… Still, I need to go today. And the truth was that THIS TRAIN GUY NEVER SHOWED UP.
After waiting for, I don’t remember how many hours, I get on the train and I know there is no seat for me. I seat on my backpack in between carriages. For you that never rode an Indian train, it might look ok, but it’s not. This was one of the most stressful situations I have ever been so far. That metal corner is cold, is dirty, is uncomfortable is loud and it’s horrifying. That was the place for the train workers, like cleaners, to be. Even they have a place to seat.
They were there looking at me and laughing at me as I’m on the floor – so uncomfortable- when they decide to approach me, but they don’t speak much English. I try to explain I’m waiting for the train guy to upgrade my ticket. Meanwhile, it starts a whole hustle and bustle around me. He starts calling other people and then more and more, they were discussing between each other about my situation… meanwhile everytime a passenger come across me he also approaches me with a nasty face like I’m doing something really bad to the world. You can’t imagine how bad was this moment. You really can’t. I was already thinking what if they expel me out of this train at midnight, where will I go, what will I do totally alone in that time of the night in a country where women can’t walk in the night. I was panicking! This hour felt like forever. But after all, I was so lucky it was just 1 hour. The longest hour…
The train guy never came, but meanwhile among the other 10 guys that ask me what the hell I’m doing there, here comes another man. He asks once again: What are you doing here? I explain to him once again- terrified and tired of saying the same– that I’m waiting for this train guy. He just answers: Come with me. I don’t know who is this guy, I don’t care anymore, being in that corner was too bad. I follow.
He tells me to sit. There is a whole space for him and his family to sleep on. I was there in the corner before wishing all the bad things in the world to Indians for putting me to such stress than when this guy comes and helps. I just felt like crying. I felt like crying cause I feel bad for wishing bad things, for feeling that now I’m safe, for feeling that they won’t kick me out the train and for all the relief I felt when I sit down in a place that not my backpack. I don’t know how I didn’t cry.
The Grandpa starts talking to me, he speaks good English. The kids offer me food, I accept while my hands are still shaking. I take a deep breath and start relaxing. I know this is not the solution as they have all beds occupied with the family but at least now I feel like I have someone behind my back.
They call the train cleaner that knew all my story and was laughing at my face and ask him (in their language) to get me a place to stay. Finally, after maybe 2H on that train in India, he finds me a place. I thank this family so much for the help and I follow my way. The train cleaner was always super rude and disgusting. I install myself in my bed and I rest like there is no tomorrow. If it wasn’t this family I don’t know what would have happened to me!!!
It’s morning and we are close to Kolkata. I spent the night kind of nervous as I knew I haven’t paid for that bed in that train in India. But in the morning the same train cleaner approaches and asks me to pay the ticket. I don’t remember how much he asked, but I know he was asking double the price. I knew it as I had searched on the internet and asked at the train station before catching this train. I even had a print screen that I showed him to prove he was asking me more than I was supposed to pay. What’s causing me even more wrath is that all those other Indians were listening and staring but no one had the dignity of telling this guy: Hey what are you doing? That’s not fare! I argued with him for a few minutes and then I let go. Ok, take the double, and somehow I remember to ask him for the receipt. I think that was what saved me at that time or this guy would stay with money for himself. As I requested the receipt he appeared with an official train ticket seller that gave me a receipt and half my money back as he states that I had paid more to the train cleaner than I was supposed to. Of course, I did, I knew it, but what could I do?
Anyway, it was the worst train in India ride of my life and I wouldn’t do the same again.
But, I met some really nice Indians along the way and in general, they are nice people.