My last minute trip to India in February – Part I – London to Ajmer
To sum it up this is the best short trip I have done so far. It had all that you could ask from a trip. It was fun, exciting and adventurous. So, it was one of my cousin’s wedding and I had to attend this wedding, no matter what happened. Well not really, but I really wanted to.
So I had recently got a job while studying at university and so didn’t have any time to take holidays to go on a holiday. I had just gotten the job. So one day, I was at work and found out that TFL was going to hold tube strikes on Wednesday and Thursday that week and even the week after. This gave me the best idea that I should go to India for a week or so to attend this wedding since I was going to miss 4 days of university no matter what (of the strike went ahead). So I decided that it’s better to miss 10 days than 4 days. While on the train back home, I was rapidly checking all the cheap airline tickets to see if I could get a ticket to go to India as such a short notice. My mum was flying the next day at 9am via gulf air and so to help her on the journey, I decided to get the tickets in the same plane (although they were £40 more than the cheapest one). As I got home, I told my dad about this idea that I had and he let me. Once I had gotten permission from most of my family that I could go, I started looking at the tickets but it took me a very very long time to find ones that were via gulf air on the same flight as my mum’s. At 11pm, we finally found the tickets we were looking for and booked them. This also meant we could take more baggage and so my parents went shopping to get more things to take as gifts. When we were about to leave at 6am in the morning, my tickets hadn’t arrived and my flight was in 3 hours. We called up the company to get the tickets but those were the most hectic of 6 hours I had while wondering when my tickets would arrive. After getting the tickets, we left for the airport and thus the trip began.
On the plane to Bahrain, I had so many thoughts about why I was doing this, it wasn’t right to be missing out in university and so on.. The thoughts kept on coming and my mum had helped me a lot yo overcome them. When we reached Bahrain we just relaxed for 3 hours with no food since everything had happened in such a short time that we didn’t get to prepare anything for the journey. When we reached Mumbai airport, it was around 5AM and so we waited for our friends to collect us. When we got to their house, I went to have a haircut and then we left at 10AM for the Dadar Terminus to catch our train to Ajmer. Until this point, nobody knew that I was accompanying my mum and so I got off the car and waited for someone to coke outside and notice.
The first person to find out that I had come was my mamaji. He greeted my mum and told her where to go but as I was standing a bit back, he didn’t notice me immediately. However as he came to realise I was there too, he was very happy and surprised that I was there too and immediately told me that it was a great surprise and he had liked it very much. Then as I walked into the train station more and more people started to realise that my mum had not come alone and they were also surpirsed. The best reaction that I had got from someone was my masi who, when she saw me, asked me how on earth was I there? (in a very surprised manner). She had this shocked but confused look on her face when she saw me, but it was all good in the end when I explained to her what had happened and she was very happy that I could make it.
Then I headed upstairs to the waiting room where all my cousins had been relaxing before getting on the train (they had arrived at the train station via another train early in the morning). As I kept walking towards the room, I kept meeting people, they were all very shocked about my appearance there and began to ask me questions on how I could make it there, how did it all happen and so on.. I answered and headed to the room where everyone was sitting down and just casually chatting to each other. As I entered the room, I believe that something messed up with my brain and this is the part I remember the least. My mum had been talking to my masi downstairs (the one who got very surprised) and so it was me alone that entered that room. All my mum’s sisters began asking me if I was the only one that came and if my mum had not come, while on the other hand, all my cousins were asking me how I was there and they were happy that I could make it.
That is when I got to meet the bride (my cousin) first time and I think she was very happy, glad, excited to see me. We hugged and then she introduced me to her friends. As time ticked on, I talked to everyone and told them what had happened and why I was the only one there and why my mum wasn’t there and so on.. After talking to everyone, I had just walked out in order to calm myself down and just bear the Mumbai heat (it was pretty hot there but I had not realised it because I wanted to give a surprise rather than talk about how hot it was). That is when I saw one of my other cousins, who I talked to a lot, he had just come back from some chore he had to do. As he looked up at the balcony where I was standing, he noticed me and since he also didn’t know that I was coming, he just stood there thinking who I was and if it was really who he thought I was. As this was happening, I decided to just point at him (I don’t know why, don’t ask me why) and then I think it immediately clicked for him that it was me. That was one of the best reactions that I had gotten that hour. After finishing whatever he was doing, he decided to come upstairs and we had a chat and so on..
As the departure time for the train neared, we decided to take plan out what we had to do in order to load all the luggage on board for all our passengers. There were lots of elderly people and lots of youngsters so we decided to load all the bags on the train. There were around 150 bags and a lot of them were filled to their capacity because we had been told that it was going to be very cold in Rajasthan. First, we had to take the bags to the other platform which required a few of us to stand on the tracks and pass the bags along and the other few to lay it down on the platform. After that, we had to carry the bags to our compartment which was fairly long way from the place where we left all the bags. So each of us was carrying at least 2 bags and taking it to the compartment and coming back to repeat. It was very very very hot and humid there and we had to do many trips from the front of the platform to where the compartment was, and each of us was holding at least 3 bags on each trip. After having carried all the bags from one end to the other, we were all really tired and sweaty by the end of it. All we wanted to do was sit down inside the AC train and relax.
After a while of waiting for the time for departure, the train finally set off and everyone had finally settled down. I had been awake for a long time (jet-lag and no sleep in plane) so I just tried dozing off for a while. But this train was the worst thing I had sat in. The usual seating plan for an Indian train is two on one side and 6 on the other. However this train had 3 on one side and 6 on the other (so one extra). And since our seats were perfectly in the middle of the train, there was someone going from one end to the other every second and I mean EVERY second. We could not even stretch our legs out because there was someone passing by every time you even thought of doing so. Since many people on Indian railway travel without a ticket, they need to avoid the TC (Ticket Checker?) so they kept walking around and our compartment was right in the middle of it all. It frustrated everyone that there was someone passing by every second, and it was not just passengers, there were also people who were selling tea/food and they kept repeating our compartment as if we were the only ones there (this train was packed btw). Then as we struggled through the day, we reached Ahmedabad station where the train had stopped for a while and we got off to stretch our legs out for a while and apparently they had got packed lunches for everyone at the station too. So we got back on, and waited for our dinners to be handed out to us. As the night approached, we were provided with pillows and blankets. We all made our beds and started to go to sleep. Due to some additional members joining at the last moment (e.g. ME), there were a few people who did not get a seat and had to manage one seat for the rest of the night.
As we approached Ajmer (our station to get off at), we started to wake everyone up and then also take all the luggage nearer to the doors so that it would be easier to unload. After arriving at Ajmer, we took down all the bags and waited there for a while. This is when we were greeted by the groom’s family and they had provided us with tea and our transportation to the Hotel where the wedding was to be held. We had lots of luggage so we had to hire a few coolies (people who carry your bags) and take it to the cars which would take us to the Hotel. Me and my cousins looked after the bags as they were being pulled by the coolies and so we walked with them till the end of the station where there was a level crossing and then walked back to the exit gates. As we came back to the cars, we helped unload and then sat in the cars to take us to Pushkar, where the Hotel was.
And that will be for another day. Hope you enjoyed the story so far, and look forward to the next one :).