Homecoming is usually a very emotional experience for me—I have to be dragged back kicking and screaming because I hate coming back to Delhi. It’s a horrible enough place by itself, but when compared to other places, it gets even horribler!
Anyway, this isn’t about Delhi. It’s about Calcutta, the City of Joy that has brought me so much grief. But not this time, thankfully. Even though the visiting family bit was—well, I’d rather not complete that sentence lest I write something incriminating and a family member happens by! Familial politics can be very tricky indeed!
Since there is a quite a bit to say, I’ll be doing this in parts. In any case, the unforgettable train ride deserves a whole post to itself!
Well, Cal was very nice, but getting there was a bit of a nightmare, even though we used the Rajdhani Express. (They are the Indian Railway’s express trains connecting the capital with various other major cities. Needless to say, they are priced slightly higher than usual. Food and service are included in the fare, and it takes you to your destination a good deal faster.)
Filthy would be a mild term to describe the state of the train. All right, we were in AC-3 (translated, AC carriage with three-tier sleeper berths), the cheapest class, but I am pretty sure I didn’t pay for the cockroaches! Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for cockroaches—after all, they’ve been around since the time of the dinos, right?!—but I’m dashed if I have to share my berth with them!
Plenty of people complained, but it was a bit too late by then. It was pretty obvious the cleaning crew wasn’t doing their job properly. I am ashamed to admit, when the staff came by with their usual plate of saunf (aniseed; a digestive and mouth freshener, customarily served in India after meals), I was too spineless to have a rousing showdown with them and even tipped them a tenner! *sheepish*
The food was… uh… the usual train/aircraft food. You don’t really know what you’re eating till they tell you! There was tomato soup and breadsticks first. I had a “continental” dinner, which had some wierd chicked dish, bread and butter, a whole lot of boiled veggies and (YESSS!) a fish fry! And ice-cream. (Oh, I forgot to mention the cheese sandwich and patty, with a cold drink and tea, that they served earlier for tea.)
For breakfast the next day I had an omlette and bread/butter/jam. There were some boiled peas with the omlette—leftovers from dinner?!—though on the way back they had changed to French fries!
Odd! And I much prefer to pay for my food as and when I want something!
Oh, and the train… it was fast. But it still ended up forty-five minutes late (though we were bang on time on the way back)!
(P.S.: If anyone has never seen an Eastern-style toilet but wants to [the reasons I don’t want to know!], I have a photo!)