We landed in Delhi, went through immigration, got some rupees from the ATM, and headed for the taxi stand. I showed the dispatcher our railroad receipt and prepaid the fare. I showed the same information to the driver who showed it to the taxi chief. We were on our way. As we drove through Delhi in rush hour traffic (do they have rush hour or is it always that way?), I thought to myself, the driver could be taking me anywhere.
We arrived at the train station and it began to pour rain. We were surrounded by porters who were all talking at once. We were told this was New Delhi train station andour train left from Old Delhi train station. I went inside the station and pushed my way to the front and confirmed I was indeed at the wrong station.
Back outside we were again surrounded by talking porters and cab drivers. One cab driver said he would take us to Old Delhi for 1,300 rupees; we had just paid 250 rupees from the airport, a much farther distance. One man spoke English and said he would take us to buy Metro tickets and show us the way to the subway station which was on the other side of the railroad tracks. We followed him into a building with a big sign, Department of Tourism. It felt good to get out of the rain. Someone at a computer terminal said, Hi, asked us where we were from and where we wanted to go. He began to advise us that we really wanted a tourist package for the four main Himalayan Hindu Temples, the Char Dham.
He asked if he could look at our railroad tickets. He scruitinized the computer screen for sometime and toggled the keyboard. “I am sorry to tell you that your train has been delayed 12 hours. Your best alternative is to get a refund and instead buy a car-train ticket. Dawn saw through the scam immediately. I said we would go the correct station now, check into a hotel near there and rest for the night and take the delayed train in the morning. We thanked them and left.
I returned to the train station, pushed my way to the head of the line and asked the attendant to the best of his knowledge did he think the train was delayed. He said, No, it should not be. Back into the rain and throng of porters and cab drivers, I said loudly that I would pay 60 rupees to get to Old Delhi station. Everyone was aghast. Finally, we settled on 180 rupees.
Our driver drove like a madman. We arrived on time, I gave him 200 rupees and he beamed with delight and raised his hands in prayer and said, Namaste. The conductor said our train was on time. We found the passenger list and our names and ages were listed correctly.
We had two berths, a little sink, clean bedding and towels, a door that closed, air conditioning and a fan. We awoke in the moning a few stations before Haridwar.
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