Facts and figuresJourney length - 1,882 km
Journey time - 30 hours
Cost - Me - 1,685 rupees (1p per km!) Air Con Sleeper
Bike - 350 rupees + 100 rupees to the baggage handler/dispatcher
In the morning , as I turn off the main road into the station, I'm feeling slightly negative about the Delhi train and much more positive about the beach option....and then suddenly, whop! My head has been struck hard by something. What the f##k! Out of nowhere I've been dive-bombed by a crow! My scalp is now bleeding. Thankfully, it doesn't come back for a second bite. My own mini-Hitchcock moment. Is it an omen? If I was at all superstitious, I would just crank the bike around and head for the beach....now.
But I profess not to be, so I carry on after soaking my scalp in Dettol (I'm learning!).
Reservations is closed. There are people everywhere, I trip over sleeping bundle of brown rags. Someone is throwing up green vomit within splashing distance of my legs, ....dirt, shit, rubbish, spitting, flies....I really don't want to be here. .......But before I go one last try. I see if I can get any information at this counter where a woman is counting money. She looks at my ticket and tells me to go check the lists. There are big boards near the entrance plastered with the seating plans for every train out of Ratnagiri. I search in vain for my name and then realise these are yesterdays lists. That's it! I've had enough of this bloody pantomime. The bike is ready to roll and I'm wasting the morning cool time. I go back to the money-counting woman behind the grill and tell her they are yesterday's lists.....and can she refund my ticket please. I no longer even care about the refund now..... I'm set to roll. She sends someone off with my ticket to check on a back-office computer. "You have a seat". I do? Shit! The train is here in 30 minutes and my bike is in the car park festooned with panniers. I report to the baggage hatch and to be fair Mr Baggage Car Controller did respond with alacrity, although it would have been easier if he'd just filled the waybill form in rather than try and tell me in an unintelligable accent what to write. My biggest worry was getting separated from my bike. "Where are you going to?" .....Delhi. "Address? ...Sorry, I don't have one. "So where are you going after Delhi? ....To Mumbai, on this bicycle. "But this train goes through Mumbai sir, you can get off there." No, no, no, you don't understand.......I'm an idiot abroad........now PLEASE give me the chit for the bike.
I was quite impressed when the baggage handler, unbidden, produced a piece of plastic sacking and tied it around my leather saddle. I asked if he could kindly do the same to protect my bar tape and then I bid farewell to the bike and hobbled off with my panniers to find the right platform.
|Bike being prepared for the baggage car|
|Platform 2 Ratnagiri Station - it looks better in the photo.....and of course you can't smell it.|
Platform 2 for Mumbai and Delhi. I'm in A1 carriage so I carefully position myself at the far end of the platform which is where the signs indicate the first carriage will stop. Useful that. As the train pulls in my heart sinks as I realise something is wrong. This is 'cattle' class. I'm stood next to B1, not A1 and A1 I discover is at the other end of a very, very long train, a mere speck in the distance. I run, as best I can with 4 panniers and a bar bag, the whole length of the platform and hop on just as the train starts to creep out of the station. Whew! Now this is an adventure!
|Here's my train - unfortunately my carriage is at the tail end!|
|On my way!|