Tuesday 26th October
Our last safari of the holiday starts at 6am, and its much colder than previously. The animals seem to be sheltering. Poor viewing of all mammals, and no tigers. We do however spot a serpent eagle and a very colourful yellow footed green pigeon.
After a delicious breakfast of paratha, pickle and curd, it is off to Jabalpur to catch a train to Bhopal. The road from Mandla to Jabalpur, a national highway, turns out to be the worst road we have been on India. Little more than a dirt track in places.
We arrive in Jabalpur in plenty of time for our train and settle down in the A/C waiting room. Even this simple task has railway bureaucracy attached to it, as we have to fill in an Indian railways form.
The 2192 Jabalpur New Delhi Super Express pulls in on time and we settle into our bunks. We set off in the dark and we all try to get some sleep, since we are going to be arriving in Bhopal after midnight.
At 11.50pm the train slows and pulls into a station. It is 15 minutes before our scheduled Bhopal arrival time, but we cannot read the name of the station. In my rush to find the carriage attendant I hit my head of small metal bracket protruding from the top bunk and immediately warm blood starts to flow down my face and back. I apply pressure with a tissue and the carriage attendant, apparently un-phased by his blood soaked passenger, confirms that there is still 10 minutes to Bhopal.
Sarah attends to my cut and after a few minutes the blood flow slows. Sarah thinks the cut is only 1cm long and is not sure whether a stitch is needed.
Bhopal soon arrives and we are met by Reliant Travel, who are arranging our car in Bhopal. After turning down offers by Indian Railways to see one of their doctors, we head to the nearest private hospital. The cut turns out to be 5cms long and hospital staff get a senior surgeon out of bed to attend to me!! He takes me into the operating theatre and under a local anaesthetic puts in 6 stitches. 30 minutes of a surgeon’s time, local anaesthetic, tetnus jab and four different drugs, total cost about $30. If you have got to cut your head, India’s a cheap place to do it!
The hospital itself, although private is grubby and relatives are sleeping on every available surface. I don’t understand why a hospital cannot be kept clean. Labour is so plentiful and cheap, the one thing a hospital ought to be able to do better than in more developed countries, is keep the place clean.
It takes less than an hour in total and we are finally in bed in the excellent Jehan Numa Palace by 1.30 am.