Another rookie move, I thought I was “so hip” ordering an “Uber” driver to my Delhi hotel. I gave the concierge a confident smile as I walked passed him with my luggage as he asked if I needed him to arrange transport today, “No, I have arranged my own transport, thank you.”
“Namaste, will you drive me to Agra?” I say to my punctual Uber driver. “Where? AGRA?!” he laughs…”too far, not uber!” “Oh, how about the train station?” “which one?” “Um, crap, any station that has a train going to Agra?” “You don’t have ticket?” “Um, no” “ok, get in.”
So, my kind driver took me to what I’ll call the main train station in Delhi and told me what to do, “ignore everyone who offers you a ride and ONLY speak with the ‘nice’ people who are at the ticket counter.” He was right; they were nice and treated me with such kindness. When they saw me standing in line, a man pulled me out of the long line and brought me into the office (where the employees sit) and told me exactly what time to wait in line for a seat on a train going to Agra. So, now I wait around, to wait again in line, to buy a ticket, to wait for a train…seriously? I’m just happy to have a plan.
Did I mention that on the way to the station I saw goats, cows, monkeys and wild pigs on the side of the road? This is crazy, too bad my kid will never believe me since I, once again; don’t have photographic proof of my animal sightings!
I’m trying to look inconspicuous, like a well-traveled person would look—very purposeful yet casual–as I melt in million degree heat in a crowded, smelly station. I’m starting to think that I must be extraordinarily beautiful because everyone stares and points at me…yeah, that must be it. The sweat is literally running down my legs and back, its toasty here. I look at my phone again, only 40 more minutes before I can wait again, awesome.
I finally have my ticket and now I have to wait another 2 hours for my train. I figured out exactly where to go, I got some water and now I found a place to stand. Oh great, now I have to go to the bathroom, well, it had to happen, my first stop in a public toilet. I held it as long as possible…there’s no more holding back. I’ve traveled all over Europe, pee’d over holes in Bosnia, France and plenty of times in the woods, why am I anxious about this? Just go! I walk into the women’s toilet and the pungent odor hits my senses. I can’t accurately or properly articulate the rank smell but it’s enough to say that even after I wrapped my scarf around my entire head, I began to dry heave…
Back to the waiting…as I stood near the ‘women and children room’ (didn’t enter because, quite frankly, it was hot as hell and the air wasn’t moving in that space), several young women asked to take a selfie with me. I’m starting to wonder if I’m plastered all over India Facebook by now…and people are probably wondering, “who is this American?” I insisted on taking several of my own selfies with each person who took my photo—you can see a few favorites here. I must admit, I had a blast and it was a nice change from the toilet funk and the boredom of waiting. Finally, my train is here, off to Agra!