This is a drawn-out story of my experience taking a return train trip from Delhi to Jaipur. I get dramatic here. If you want a fuss-free TLDR version of my train travel in India, click here. While our Delhi to Jaipur train went pretty smoothly, we almost missed our train back to Delhi.
I was traveling with Reuben, a teacher in Singapore that I met on a dive trip. He’s dope. He was originally from India, and happened to be back home in India for the school term break. I was in India at the same time for work. I pretty much dragged him everywhere in Delhi. And now Jaipur.
THE UBER NIGHTMARE
Uber has been ultra good to us prior to this. We used it constantly and often it was cheaper than opportunistic auto rickshaws. Our train back to Delhi was departing at 6am, and we checked out from our hotel at the early hours of 5.15am. Our hotel was just a five-minute drive away, but we’re cautious like that.
We immediately rang for an Uber once we’re done checking out, which took longer than expected. The first driver we got was some five minutes away. So we waited. Five minutes later, he became 10 minutes away. And get this, he never moved from his spot.
We quickly cancelled that trip and called for another one. This time round the Uber was 10 minutes away. That’s ok… we can still make it with plenty of time. It was about 5.35am at that point.
Five minutes later, the Uber became… 12 minutes. He had also moved about an inch on our app. We got a little panicky at this point. What was going on, and how are we going to get to the train station. We cancelled the ride, and called for yet again another Uber. The next Uber we got was, you guessed it, 10 minutes away.
Let’s Get the Auto
We were staying at the Hilton Jaipur, which didn’t allow autorickshaws in, but at that point we didn’t care. Reuben went by the roadside to catch a free autorickshaw while I monitor this 10-minute-away Uber on the app. A few moments later, the Uber was still 10 minutes away, and yup, it never moved from its spot.
Around that same time, Reuben rushed back in.
“That’s cool, I guess we’re taking the auto then,” I thought.
“Yo there’s no free autos AT ALL,” said Reuben. All of the autos that went past were not empty, which was unusual. The common image of lines of autos waiting by the roadside popped into my head.
At that time it was 5.50am.
Our train leaves at 6am.
With nary a choice, we immediately called for the hotel taxi. It arrived soon enough, and the driver drove as fast as he could to get us to the train station. I can’t remember the exact price of that ride – but I remembered the five minute ride costing the same as half of our train ride.
FIVE MINUTE MAD DRIVE LATER
We dashed to the security checkpoint and dumped our things on the belt. I’m pretty sure we cut in front of some people, but this was India and it was a mad frenzy already without our help. Nobody seemed to mind.
We squinted at the old grainy monitor screen to check for our platform number. Of course it was on the other end of the bridge. Reuben grabbed my luggage and climbed the stairs, while I tagged alongside with pathetic pleas of “oh no please please I can carry it don’t worry.” Reuben ignored me.
We landed on the foot of the steps and saw our train standing there serenely, almost as if chiding us “we wouldn’t leave without you silly goose.” The peaceful atmosphere change on the quiet platform was a welcome change from the chaos minutes ago.
“Phew. we made it with 5 minutes to spare,” said Reuben, as we walked briskly towards our cabin number.
“Omg, yeah,” I panted back in relief.
Reuben held on to my luggage (I think because his man legs can move faster than mine) and handed me the paper ticket he was holding. Naturally I glanced down at it. Then I glanced up to the cabin number we’re rushing towards.
“Dude, we’re on the 6am train,” I said.
“Nah, we’re 6.05 am,” said Reuben.
“No, our train to Jaipur, is 6.05 am. This,” I said, as I flipped the paper ticket to the backside. “Is this train. 6 am.”
I’m realising the peace and quiet on the platform was because everyone’s already on the damn train.
“Those seats are on the other end!!!” Reuben exclaimed, eyes widen.
“Ok Sha, we’re going to run as far as possible to the other end now, otherwise we’ll have a hell of a time with your luggage on board,” the resolute Reuben said.
“The train will move we might need jump in.”
“ok-wait no what- “
As if right on cue, the train began moving. We were running and wheeling my luggage along at this point.
“Now! Jump in first!”
And so I jumped into a (slow) moving train. I don’t recall any thought or emotion at that time, except how insane this all is.
Once I got on I turned and grabbed the luggage Reuben was hauling over to me. I wheeled it in to make room for Reuben to jump on-board.
We made it.
“DOPE.” I said.
We rolled our way down the carriages. The cabins had upper and lower seat tiers, which meant a lot of going up and down short staircases with my cumbersome luggage in tow. We got to our seats, put in one last effort to heave my luggage overhead, and plonked on our seats.
Then we binged on multiple cups of chai to reward our morning physical and emotional exercise. Nothing like good ol’ fashioned panic attacks and anxiety to stretch those tight stress muscles. *awkward laugh *
But damn, looking back that was fun.
I can also legitly say:
I jumped into a moving train in India.
1. Arrive at train station 30 minutes in advance.
2. Luggages are stupid.
3. There are no Ubers in the morning in Jaipur.
4. But short train travel in India is still dope.