16.10.2010 - 16.10.2010
Saturday 16th October
After a quick breakfast of Masala Dosa and Chai and we walk the few yard to the station. 10 minutes of fruitlessly staring at the display board leads me to ask a railway official for details. He explains our train, the Kerala Express, is standing at Platform 3, but is not on the display board.
Our names our on the list pasted to Coach A1, which somehow feels like a minor miracle, and we install ourselves in 2AC. It’s my and Sarah’s first taste of Indian Railways, which quickly proves to be a relaxing way to travel. Each passenger gets his own bunk and although the toilets leave a bit to be desired and the carriages are grubby, it doesn’t seem to detract from the experience.
All three of us get some sleep on the uneventful 5 hours journey to Gwalior and we eat an Indian Railways meal of rice, dry veg masala and daal, for only 50 Rs each.
The train constantly rings to the chants of the official and unofficial hawkers of chai, “coffeecoffeecoffee”, veg cutlets, second hand books etc.
We are met at Gwalior Station, in an unseasonal rain shower, by Travel Bureau’s Gwalior office manager and Jagdish our driver for the next 10 days. They whisk us off to the beautiful Taj Usha Kiran Palace, where we have been upgraded. We swim in the rain and Jake makes use of the Gym.
In the evening Jake and I play snooker on the 120 year old snooker table situated in the impressive bar and we have a suitably delicious Taj Indian meal, which a matching Taj bill of 4,000 Rs. I already sense this holiday is going to be more expensive than last year in Rajasthan.