|Monday 6th November 2017
Bikaner to Delhi by train
Breakfast in the hotel this morning then we were driven by Sanju the short distance to Bikaner Junction Railway Station about 1.5km away through the narrow lanes of the old city behind Kote Gate. This gate has a history connected with King George V who died in 1910. Bikaner has a very long history, having been founded in 1488, and the British “occupation” and colonisation is now seemingly just a blip in this long history. The main thing left is the English language and of course, cricket. This is a topic you can discuss with every Indian man and boy. They are fanatical about it and are very knowledgeable about the teams, the history and the essential sportsmanship of the game. We have also seen polo fields. Indians are very passionate about sport and are fiercely parochial but in a nice way. Reached the railway station and farewelled our wonderful driver Sanju who had to drive back to Delhi and home. He was a really careful driver with great skill. Driving on Indian roads is very challenging – there doesn’t appear to be any rules except that the first one to get anywhere has right of way. No one waits, they cross in front of you, but mostly it’s all done at slow speed so although you have close shaves about once a minute, we saw no collisions at all, just two or three trucks rolled over off the road in all our driving. Every truck and van, bus, and car is full to the brim with goods, people, animals, rocks, dirt, hay, you name it. Our Bikaner guide Raj (surprisingly a Muslim with a Hindu nickname) led us to the train and we boarded. We are in a sleeping compartment on the bottom seats for our daytime journey of about 7.5 hours. The journey passed very pleasantly as we passed dry desert life areas and stopped at a number of stations along the way. We spoke to a fellow passenger, an engineer also travelling to Delhi from Bikaner. As the train approached Delhi, there were many shanty towns alongside the railway tracks with thousands of people living in very poor looking conditions but all chatting and/or playing. The towns extended for a number of kilometres - we were told previously that the government had built apartments away from the city for these people, but they didn’t want to live 40kms from the city and have to find work. It is an extremely difficult problem in a city like Delhi and a country like India where many people each week come from the country to seek a better life in the city. Once we reached the central station, we walked along the platform and were met by a representative of the travel company who picked us out very easily as we were pretty much the only westerners on the train. We walked with her to where the driver was waiting and drove to the hotel through the rush hour traffic. As usual, the traffic was quite chaotic and challenging, but we reached the hotel, checked in, picked up the bag that we had left with our driver last week, then had dinner in the restaurant, back to the room to repack our bags then to bed on our last night in India. Delhi is so polluted with rubbish everywhere. There is a constant haze and no clearness about anything. We will leave with many great memories of all the sights we have seen, all the people we have spoken with and laughed with, and also of the helpfulness of all people we met.