Listen up there, the trek continues and comes to an end.
I had arranged for the taxi (rusty heap) to collect me from my luxury pad to take me to the station. However, as always, things did not turn out exactly the way I planned it. Presenting myself at the desk to sign out I’m presented a bill. No, no I say, the office will pay you. Consternation on the 3 clerk’s visages as that is against house rules. They ring their boss who says I must pay before leaving. A phone call to Delhi and they reach my office contact. I was supposed to have been given cash to pay the bill. I had timed my departure precisely so that I spent the minimum amount of time in the madhouse that the station is. Looking at my watch I say OK I will pay. I half undress to get to my money belt not caring whether I have clean underpants on or not, I need that money and the clock is ticking. I pay the bill and change is given. I’m off.
Seasoned traveller as I am (please stop laughing at the back, this is serious) I arrive at the station and at the first attempt locate the correct platform. No signs to indicate where the numbered carriages will stop and it will be a long walk if I am at the wrong place. With no choice I take a gamble and stay where I am. The train arrives and I watch carefully for the numbers on the carriages as they come towards me. Although not logically numbered I start to understand how the numbering runs so as B3 goes pass I think, yeh, next but one is mine. Sure enough A1 stops just short of where I am standing. I look at the seat numbering and guess wrong. I climb aboard, the train is pitch black (power down) and along with a few hundred locals Braille our way to where ever. My mistake, I had got on at the wrong end of the coach so had to bumper car my way down its entire length. But by now I know how to shove and push with the best of them, my case is the equivalent of a Panzer Tank so no arguments there. I go first, leaving dismembered bodies behind me.
I share my cabin with a family of 3 Indians. Two of them are women who will struggle to get to the top bunks so after money changes hands (I was there first and being the gentleman I am [not]) I agree to take a top bunk. We also agree, lights out at 10:30. At the appointed time I make my bed and do a Hilary and Tenzing to the top. This is going to be fun. I find somewhere to put my laptop, stash my shoes into a black hole (remember to check for scorpions/cockroaches in the morning before putting them on), wriggle my way with sheets and blanket and sleep. I wake at 7:20am. Eleven and a half hours gone, three to go. I look at the drop before me and think how do I abseil down there? But I’m brave; I check for nasties in my shoes, take a deep breath and go for it. I’m on dry land, the family is looking at me thinking ‘mad English man’ and I’m off to the loo for a nicotine top up.
We arrive at Koraput, Orissa, Bengal at 10:00am, 14 hours to the dot after leaving that place with two B’s in its name and have covered just less than 800 kilometres. My home for the next few months.