Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tuesday 22.01.2013 Howrah Rajdhani

An announcement at New Delhi railway station.

"ALL passengers are requested NOT to be friendly with ANY strangers."

R is very anxious that you know that she wasn't really stuck on a platform bench for 3 hours and yes D did pay for her to use the Executive lounge as well.

We get to the interesting bit (says D). Our three hours worth of Executive luxury living turns out to be a fine investment. We reluctantly take our leave just as our delayed train is pulling into the station. Inevitably we are at the wrong end of the platform and have a brisk march with full pack along 18 or 19 coaches to find ours. Coupe E is a bit threadbare and could do with a bit of TLC but it will be home for the next 17 hours and 1453 km so we make ourselves comfy.

If you have not travelled by Rajdhani before the first thing that you notice is the endless parade of stewards, caterers, linen wallahs, train managers, flower givers and finally the TTE (Travelling Ticket Examiner) In quick succession we are handed bottled water, towels, a glass of mango juice, an individually wrapped wet-wipe, a rose, bed sheets, and soap tablets. A man then appears with a folding table which is set up to receive trays which contain a snack for each of us. This is known as Evening Tea and for most of us would be seen as a substantial meal. We also get 2 china cups , a flask of hot water and a tea/coffee kit which allows us to make a passable cup of black tea.

Finally the TTE reaches us and we see his spirits sink as he spies tourists. Indian Railways fares increased yesterday and they have decided that tickets booked in advance must pay the difference. The poor man starts to explain and D is able to tell him that we know all about it and expect to pay extra. He looks so relieved and says that he will send a receipt and we can pay then. For some reason R (travelling as a bona-fide little old lady) has only 25 rupees to pay while D has to cough Rs.150 - nearly £2. That's the last time that he votes Congress.

Meanwhile the train has been crawling out through the Delhi suburbs - if it doesn't go faster we will be counting days late never mind hours. Eventually the speed picks up and the train starts to rock and roll a little - just in time for the soup to be served. Very good soup it is too, followed by a sort of Welsh Rarebit with a white sauce containing peas and chillies. Tonight's vegetarian main course is a triumph for Indian Railways' catering policy. The standard main meal is listed as rice, dal and a paneer dish. There is a menu footnote that states "OR Any other regional cuisine as per popular demand as decided by Railway."

Today's Quiz Question: Which Indian Region popularly demands spaghetti with peas, red carrots,a vegetable rissole on eggy bread?

The feast was rounded off with a tub of butterscotch ice cream (with wooden spoon natch) that was officially declared nummy by R.After our folding tables were cleared we had a visit from yet another cast member - the sweeper. Another employee arrived with a receipt for the additional fare and seemed disappointed that D was able to produce exact change.

And then it was time for bed.

1 comment:

  1. Just having a little lol at the quiz question there...