Saturday, October 15, 2016

Travel to Bangalore

We left our hotel about 7:00 for the 8:45 train. We knew it would be rush hour and wanted to allow plenty of time. As we headed from Pahar Ganj through the center of New Delhi, we were amazed at the traffic. We were stuck in several jams. There were some processions going on, closing some of the streets. Our driver was excellent, threading his way through and eventually getting us to the station before 8:00.

We got two porters to carry our heavy bags. They always know which platform we need, plus the exact spot where our bogie (railroad car) will be located when the train pulls in. Sure enough, we were right in front of the door when it came. We had decided to do this trip in First Class A/C, a step up from Two-Tier A/C we did the last time, several years ago. In the Two-Tier, there are cubicles with four berths and a curtain. In First Class, the compartments are private with locking doors. We were lucky to get a coupé with only two berths, as we had hoped. (The railways website said that married couples are given priority for the few coupés on the train.) Here is a look in from the doorway. Clean sheets and pillows are provided, plus heavy wool blankets and a hand towel for each person. During the day the upper berth folds up and locks onto the wall, and the top layer of the lower berth folds up and becomes a back for the bench seat. It was very comfortable and we slept quite well.

When it was time for a meal, two tray tables were set up for us to eat on. This is the soup course of the dinner we were served after departure.

During the trip, a cleaner came in twice to sweep and mop the floor. The window was cleaned on the outside at several of the station stops. I enjoyed watching the scenery go by, miles and miles of fields. We had a few odd stops in the middle of nowhere (probably waiting for the track to clear). At one of them two of the workers from our bogie saw a custard apple tree just outside. They ran out and quickly picked as many as they could grab, got back on, and we took off. They were very happy! As I watched, there were no more of these trees along the way, so they were truly just lucky.

The main meals were basically the same as on the Shatabdi. And they fed us a lot -- morning tea, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. By Thursday evening I wasn't hungry, so opted to skip dinner for an orange. The waiter noticed and soon brought me an apple and a sharp knife. Great service! When Dan hesitated about ordering dinner, he asked if he wanted chow mein and/or pasta instead of the regular mea. Dan said yes, and here is what he got:

Chow mein, pasta, vegetables, and veg cutlets
As we pulled into Bangalore, I caught this view of crowded apartment buildings in pastel colors.

We found a taxi easily and headed toward our hotel, about a 45-minute drive. It is in a newer area and addresses are difficult. With several calls to the hotel, we eventually got there. Although it was early, they had a room ready for us. We moved in, got showers, and met up with Mahesh, Nina and Dhruv. We walked to their flat about 10 minutes away and got down to the business of catching up and visiting.

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