December 22, 2012

The Least Luxurious Night of My Life quickly things can change. About 24 hours ago, Tom posted on how much we love train travel (read here). And now, only a day later, we are amending that statement. We love train travel for trips less than 10 hours when we're not violently ill and, preferably, for trips during the day. Sometimes, we hate train travel.
This is me, in simpler days, when I
naively loved train travel
Let me tell you about the last 48 hours. Today is Saturday. We were supposed to take a 17 hour, overnight train on Thursday from Amritsar to Jaipur (arriving early Friday morning). Because it is a long haul, we booked AC-3 Tier and were looking forward to our first upgraded train experience. BUT, on Wednesday night, Tom started getting sick (Delhi Belly symptoms) and was up much of the night. (I won't get into details, but I think you know what I'm talking about.) On Thursday morning, it was clear that Tom could not get on a train at 2:30pm for a 17 hour ride. So we canceled our tickets and, instead, Tom went to the doctor and got some meds and we rested. The trains book up far in advance, but we canceled our Thursday reservation early in the day, so were able to access the Tatkal (urgent) window for buying tickets for the next day (leaving Amritsar Friday evening, arriving in Jaipur early Saturday morning). For each train, a few seats are reserved for urgent trips, booked less than 24 hours in advance, and are called Tatkal tickets. We tried to get Tatkal tickets for AC-3 Tier, but never made it off the waitlist. Instead, we were booked on the Sleeper car and were just happy that we were able to get seats. The advantage to this new Friday train was that, instead of 17 hours, it left at 5:50pm and was only 14 hours! 

On Friday, Tom was feeling better thanks to the medicine from the doctor, and we walked around Amritsar, enjoying the town and the Sikh community. We were both tired and I was even out-of-sorts enough that I turned down the opportunity to go shoe shopping. (I love the local leather flats, called jootis.) If you know me, this fact alone can foreshadow what was to come.

We boarded the train and met some really great people in our berth. The first thing we noticed was that everyone had huge, thick blankets for the journey, something we had neglected to think about. North India can be chilly and, though we were entering warmer climates on our journey, the nights are still cold, as it's the desert. The train was already cold at 6pm and we realized we were in for an uncomfortable evening. After about 90 minutes, I climbed to the middle bunk to read, as I had a bit of an anxious/upset stomach. It slowly got worse, and my stomach started burning and cramping, and I was hit with powerful nausea. Eventually, I decided sleep was the best option, so I curled up in my bunk, wearing every article of clothing I could find and, using my day bag as a pillow, tried to sleep. There were a few other problems with this, though. A man in our berth climbed into his bottom bunk early in the ride and started snoring so loudly that most of the entire train car came to our berth at some point to see what the noise was. On either side of our berths were mothers with young babies who cried and screamed intermittently and at random. The train was incredibly drafty and cold gusts of wind would rush through our car, causing the well-prepared passengers to pull their blankets tighter around themselves and causing us to curse our ignorance. And the train conductor was very horn-happy, blowing the whistle often and sometimes for as long as 10-12 seconds at a time, diminishing any hope of a good night's sleep. The snoring, crying, wind-gusting (and resulting self-loathing), and whistle-blowing continued throughout the entire ride.

An hour or so later, I suddenly bolted up (hitting my head on the top bunk) and just knew I was going to be sick. I rushed to the bathroom (a luxurious squatty potty that delivers it's content to the track below) just in time to be sick. I spent the entire night running back and forth to the toilet, squatting or leaning over it. When I wasn't in the toilet, I was shivering on my bunk, racked with stomach cramps and nausea so bad that, when I rolled over to my side, I got motion sickness enough to think I would be sick. It was a very VERY rough 14 hours.

Us, in more luxurious days
Just a few short months ago, my father-in-law hosted Tom and I to a night out in New York. I wore one of my favorite dresses, killer heels and spent a lot of time on my hair and make up. Tom wore his best suit and designer shoes. We had dinner at an upscale, classic New York Italian restaurant before heading to Lincoln Center to watch the Metropolitan Opera's production of Turandot. We had box seats! It was one of the most fantastic, deliciously luxurious evenings. Last night, however, was maybe the least luxurious night of my life. It's hard to believe that these two nights existed in the same lifetime.

Oh, India. You really are a roller coaster.

1 comment:

  1. A roller coaster experience indeed! Hope you guys are now fully fit. Carry some broad spectrum stomach medicine (tinidazole+norfloxacin combination) with you at all times in India. Whenever you take this medicine, remember that Tinidazole has a strong contra-indication with alcohol. Take care.