Drive Around The World (Australia)

One family, one car, one year, one planet

Delhi-Jaipur-Agra-Varanasi, India, 28-31 December, 2008, Day 263-266

Delhi-Jaipur-Agra-Varanasi, India

28-31 December, 2008

Day 263-266

Soundtrack:

‘It’s the Life’ – Grant Lee Buffalo

‘Teenage Mother’ – British India

‘Waiting for a Train’ – Jerry Lee Lewis

‘Slow Train’ – Blue Ruin

‘Mystery Train’ – Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Paul Butterfield, et al

‘The Morning Fog’ – Kate Bush

‘Body and Soul’ – Coleman Hawkins

‘Hayride to Hell’ – Hoodoo Gurus

‘Six Days On The Road’ – Taj Mahal

‘Rat’s Revenge’ – The Rats

‘Rat In Mi Kitchen – UB40

‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’ – Bob Dylan

SK: Sunday morning, 7.00am. We were ready for our jaunt around the countryside, excited to be off to see Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi. We had ended up having booked a driver and car to Jaipur, and then to Agra as the trains were all full for these legs. Jassi, our driver, was a serious young man, responsible, and good behind the wheel. He was from the mountains in the north – it must have been a shock for him when he first moved down to the city. He picked us up in a clean little Tata for the first leg to Jaipur on that foggy, foggy morning …

An hour out from Delhi we passed four crashes within two hundred metres of each other. Despite the carnage, trucks, buses, tractors and cars fought to cover ground as fast as they could even though visibility was down to ten metres. The vehicle debris strewn on the road obviously wasn’t enough of an incentive to slow down. As the sun fought the fog to our left, we crawled down the road, our driver fortunately not feeling the pressure to speed with the other traffic. The two lane highway had become four lanes, as the traffic impatiently spilt into the emergency lane, and then created another lane somewhere to the left of that. Or to the right. It was hard to tell. Slowly the four lanes merged back to two as we picked up speed past the last crash, the remains of which were quickly swallowed by the whiteness around us.

The fog is acrid. It burns the back of your throat. It is not a soft, enveloping blanket of white – it is a threatening cloak that blinds you, chokes you. It is ominous. It makes the world look apocalyptic.

The gaudily painted trucks lurch and weave drunkenly down the road. I long for the safety of our truck, and to be assured by the skills of Danny at the wheel. As much as I would hate to be navigating here, I wish he were driving.

One and a half hours out of Delhi and we appear to have left the city behind. Through the fog, hints of shanty towns, cows, wild pigs, emerge, then disappear. An ambulance drives towards us on our left, very much on the wrong side of the road – blocking traffic in this lane. The traffic snarls, and slows, as we approach another mangled truck, a concertinaed car.

Maddy says it’s like the edge of the world. We can’t see anything beyond the roadside.

I note the government aphorisms that appear: “Lane driving is sane driving”; “for accidental help, dial 1033”.

Now the sun has given up trying to burn away the fog. It is so dense, that for once I am grateful for all the tooting. On the backs of trucks are exhortations to “Blow Horn”, “Horn Please”, and our driver obliges enthusiastically as he snakes around them. The noise makes me feel that our little Tata actually has a presence on the road, that our white car won’t be missed in the enveloping clouds. The audio provides a more reliable guide to traffic than the visual.

Another truck carcass lies on the road. I imagine it breathing a last ragged breath through its crumpled radiator. No sign of the driver. And then we glide past a caravan of camels pulling heavily laden wagons. Occasionally there are bursts of colour. Bright pink saris swirl around women who appear suddenly on the side of the roads, and as quickly disappear. 

After almost three hours, the fog slowly lifted, as did the mood in the car. Another hour later, and we were driving past magnificent fort walls, and into the pink city of Jaipur.

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(Pic: Onward to Jaipur)

We drove through the old city gates, aiming for our hotel, and pulled up in the middle of what looked like a market. Dogs, cows and people scattered as we rolled past stalls and came to a stop just through an archway. Surprised, we found ourselves in a courtyard, the entrance to a haveli, an old Rajput mansion. Delighted, we climbed the stairs from courtyard to terrace, then up to another terrace, to our top floor room, and peered out over the city; the skyline dominated by hundreds of coloured kites, and a cityscape of monkeys bounding along the tops of buildings.

After a fabulous lunch, we were suitably refreshed to explore this great city. We studiously avoided all the silks, bangles, sandals and pashminas being proffered as we walked down the street – first the sights, then the shopping. The beautiful Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) was built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh for his harem. The intricate carved out walls were designed for the royal women to look out on city life while safely shielded from public view. The windows were also devised to maximise the breeze, which kept the palace cool. Full of local and foreign tourists, we jostled up and down stairs, peered out of the spaces in the walls, and wondered about a life separated by a wall from the outside world.

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(Pic: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur)

We then wandered down to the City Palace, still home for the polo-playing Maharaja and his family. More evidence of the beauty of Rajasthani architecture and iconography.

The next morning we were rudely woken by aggressive pounding on our door. When our calls weren’t answered, we realised it was a primate wake up call. Our disquiet quickly turned into delight once we had ascertained the identity of our visitors, who also jumped on our roof, and ran up and down over the skylights. The monkey business continued for some time, until eventually the chimps lost interest and wandered off.

On our way to the Amber Fort for another dose of Rajput history, we passed beautifully decorated elephants and camels, the former employed to carry tourists up to the fort. This fort was another example of multiple designs in action – the structure complete with high, defensive walls, moat and clever water storage, a harem complex like a rabbit warren, and different additions by generations of maharajas.

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(Pic: Raffy takes in the view from Hawa Mahal, Jaipur)

Raffy the linguistic master, currently in the process of inventing his own language, declared that forts were actually ‘fighteds’, as they were built to repel hostile armies.

We stopped for photo ops by the Water Palace with loads of other tourists (and more camels), and then commenced the five hour drive to Agra. No fog, no crashes. A straight run.

It was beginning to get dark as we realised that the dusty streets and smoggy air of the town we were driving through was actually Agra. Home to the Taj Mahal, I had expected something grander. We soon realised that ‘Taj’, as the site is referred to, and the Agra Fort, seem to be generally acknowledged by the local population as the only things in the town worth visiting.

DB: We walked down the road to the entrance of the Taj Mahal and immediately experienced a different India – one without cars. Most of the roads leading to the Taj are blocked to petrol-driven traffic, ostensibly to reduce the air pollution that damages the site. It may also be in keeping with aesthetics or security. Nonetheless, we enjoyed leisurely perambulating towards this magnificent structure, albeit running the gauntlet of touts offering guided tours, horse and carriage rides, souvenirs and everything in between.

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(Pic: “Ma-a-a-a-ate, you might reckon you’re being fleeced, but parking here really gets on my goat”, Jaipur (for Liz and son)

The Taj was something Maddy had been dreaming of seeing for years, and suddenly there it was. Although thousands have gushed about its magnificence, it still takes your breath away. Everything from it’s size, colour, space and even the fact that the four, soaring minarets were intentionally built leaning ever so slightly away from the main structure so that in the unlikely event one or more of them came crashing down they wouldn’t damage the big Cohuna. We wondered around with mouths agape and necks craned, wondering all the while how it was possible for someone to find the resources and support to build such a monolith in memory of his late wife so long ago. But as sure as we had made the effort to get here we had to turn and head elsewhere.

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(Pic: Maddy and the Taj)

Agra is fascinating in the sense that vast hoards of people come to visit the Taj Mahal (allegedly two to four-million people a year), and yet there is four-fifths of the square root of sweet bugger all else to see or do in the entire town, to the extent that we found nowhere to eat before hitting the road again. Surely, I thought, the great powers that be would think “Crikey. If there’s all these people coming to see the Taj, maybe we should get a museum and a few nice places to sit so they hang around for a night instead of making it a day trip.” But no, the rest of the place is not much to write home about, and hence the tour busses line up on the outskirts and ferry all the merry makers back to Delhi that evening. We hit the road and our driver took us to a touristy restaurant on the highway instead.

Our entire round-trip tour was a rather cagey affair as all the tickets, bookings and transfers were safely tucked away in our driver’s possession. We were suss on the agency we bought the tickets from already, and future events would provide no redemption. Once in a while we would ask to look at a particular receipt but we were so overwhelmed with the here and now that we paid much less attention to the immediate future. And so, our driver indicated that we would be dropped off at the Agra train station at 4pm for our overnight train to Varanasi.

We were looking forward to our locomotive encounter; the children most excited about having our own little cabin with beds and breakfast in the morning. We had travelled almost exclusively by road until this time – now we would find out how life on India Rail felt.

What our driver failed to mention was that our train wasn’t due until 11.30pm. It turns out he was required to return his car to Delhi that evening for another small group of suckers requiring abduction into the countryside. We wished them luck. What he also failed to mention until the last minute was that the station we required was a fair distance out of town, in a place that was part frontier village and part Armageddon.

Upon discovering that our train was due just before midnight and that the train station was a tad scuzzy we thought of renting a room for the six hours or so, so Maddy and Raffy could get some sleep and we could take it easy for a while. A friendly train ticket seller explained to Sandy, ever so delicately, that there were no hotels in the area that would be appropriate for us. In short, the only ones around rented beds – ahem – by the hour. Enough said. We’ll stick with the station.

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(Pic: Maddy and Raffy, Agra Fort)

I tried getting some information from rail staff about what other options we had, particularly for finding some safe place for the kids to sleep, but none seemed too interested. I then stumbled upon the stationmaster’s office.

The stationmaster seemed to be in his sixties, with soft, grey hair, a neat moustache and an air of authority about him. He wore a crisp uniform and sat comfortably behind an aging timber desk that was covered in various hard-cover books of lined paper, printed timetables, and no fewer than ten coloured telephones. The phones had old-style finger dialling mechanisms, except one, which had a handle that was wound at a furious speed in order to bring it to life. At times the stationmaster would be surrounded by confidants who would offer advice, it seemed, and would point at timetables both on the desk and on the cracked and crumbling walls. At other times these hangers-on would snore in the corner. And when things really hotted up he would have a number of phones going at once. He had much more important things to do than advise where I could plonk my children.

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(Pic: A mynah problem)

The waiting lounge consisted of flickering neon lights, hard wooden chairs, crumbling plaster, a filthy floor and a large woman who seemed to be in charge, but who promptly brought a chair and a small table together and fell asleep. We began to feel that a conspiracy was afoot as no matter where we sat and tried to read the nearest light would begin to flicker. After a few hours Maddy and I became convinced that if we growled at the light it would come back on. A few doors up was a greasy restaurant that provided us with a bit of edible fare and small cups of chai that would prove our saviour. It also played host to a merry band of rats who scampered in under a gap in the door and behind a refrigerator in search of scraps. These rats, it turned out, lived in their thousands on the railway tracks. We weren’t sure whether to be fascinated or revolted.

Just before dusk I went for a walk. The hard wooden chairs weren’t doing my lumbago any good and I needed to move around regularly. I walked up the station platform and out from under the corroding roof into the orange light, and immediately noticed the thousands of Indian mynah birds making a stationary goods train home for the night along with the cables and their steel posts and girders that stood above the train. The noise the birds made was astounding. It was like the world’s entire community of mynahs had arrived for a conference and drinks were on the house. Chirping and squawking in waves and surges like a fierce tide, their racket only intensified the feeling of unease. I was sure Alfred Hitchcock was having a bit of a chuckle.

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(Pic: Doidy, rotten, stinken boids)

Walking back to the waiting lounge I discovered that even more mynahs had arrived and had settled in for the night along more cables and rafters, though this time along the length of the platform that was under the high roof. There seemed to be hundreds of thousands of them. However, instead of sleeping like all good birdies should when the sun goes down, they continued to gossip. Loudly. The shrill clamour of these black-feathered beasties would continue for an eternity, with sticky, smelly evidence of their presence dropped from a great height to a soundtrack that sounded like rain. As the night wore on the platform grew in height and stench.

As night settled in, so we tried. A few lonely tourists joined us – a young German and a couple of Japanese women. Then, a larger Dutch group moved in with some trepidation, along with their kindly Indian tour guide, and we were now a ragtag band of foreigners getting sore necks from looking at our watches. Sandy and I were seriously annoyed at having to wait for seven hours or so for a train, but were insistent on not letting the experience ruin our India sojourn. This, it would turn out, would be a hard ask.

Computerised announcements were piped in throughout the station, including our den of din, and each was preceded by a short, synthesised fanfare that I remain convinced was pilfered from a Microsoft program. “Ta-dah!” it would ring, followed by an announcement in Hindi, and then a translation in heavily accented English. Problem was, though, the computer program wouldn’t always put the right bits in the right order, or would drop important bits all together. So, we would be presented with “Attention ladies and gentlemen. Will arrive. The next train. Platform. We apologise for the inconvenience.” The announcement was repeated five times, in both languages preceded by that annoying fanfare. I’m not sure how I will respond if I ever hear that PC program again.

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(Pic: Raffy gets some sleep with Sandy)

Once in a while a smattering of information would be broadcast, and the news was never good. Being told a train due to arrive at eleven-thirty has been delayed by two hours made me grind my teeth. To add insult to injury, the rats had found a way into the waiting lounge – via the sewer attached to the foul squat toilets adjoining our room, of course. Sandy and I were now less annoyed and more concerned. Maddy and Raffy were now nodding off but we were worried what these rats might do. Would they climb up a chair and start nibbling? The thought made me ill. And needless to say, Sandy and I stayed awake. (SK: Middle of the night paranoia made me glad we had those three rounds of Rabies shots each, despite the pain!)

We had been made aware that the recent cold snap had played a bit of havoc with the northern Indian transport system, due to thick fog, but nobody suggested that trains would be delayed by as much as two or three hours. Considering our train’s initial embarkation point was supposedly only a couple of hours away meant that by 2am it may not have even left yet. And nobody could or would confirm or deny anything that would make them remotely responsible for anything at all. Ever.

We were able to charge up Donna, our laptop computer, from a dodgy powerpoint that sparked and spluttered intermittently, and so were able to get a bit of writing done, as well as losing myself in some music every now and then. As the clock ticked on, ever slower, I went for more walks, dodged rats and bird muck, and nodded at the chai wallahs who would board trains as they stopped at the station and sold as much tea as possible before the train threatened to take them away. They were fascinating to watch, being able to carry a large urn and cups at great speed, and alighting from the train without its momentum making them tumble into the filthy ground.

And so we spent an age watching the clock and praying our mystery train would arrive to take us to Varanasi. The original train was supposed to take about eight hours, dropping us off at 7.30am. This would give us two full days there to explore the fabled city and the mystical Ganges river. But 1am became 3am, and then 5am. We had run out of pre-packaged starchy snacks and fruit, and the restaurant was long closed. Only the chai wallahs continued to work through the night, frantically boarding slow-moving trains to sell as much tea as they could before it picked up speed, their heads wrapped in thick scarves to shield them from the frigid night air. The waiting lounge wasn’t as cold as the outdoors, but all the travellers put on as many clothes as they carried to keep warm, and the young German man even resorted to unrolling his sleeping bag.

Various people would come in and out of the room, either going for walks or looking for some shelter from the cold. Sometimes the woman who seemed to run the show would banish them as they weren’t first- or second-class ticket holders, god forbid, while other times we would all make room for them, or she would just give up. But the twisted, creaking, splintered doors would almost never be closed properly, meaning a frosty draft would blow in towards where Maddy and Raffy, and others, were sleeping. In the cold light of day it sounds trivial, but at 5am I began thinking of ways to dispose of people who were so callously rude and obnoxious as to leave a door open. In my rather deranged mental state I considered it a crime against humanity and took it upon myself to be door-monitor and giving pointed lessons to rogue door-users on the complicated operations of a timber flap and rusty hinges. That’ll learn ‘em.

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(Pic: Danny and Raffy bleary eyed on the train)

The computerised announcements continued. Rarely were we provided with five minutes of silence, and while we wished the interminable, distorted shrieking a slow and painful death, we were also praying for some reasonably good news about our long-forgotten train. At this rate we would only arrive in Varanasi around lunchtime, giving us only a day and a half before having to board another train bound for Delhi. We daydreamed about having our own, comfy, warm truck and making our own way in the world without being over-reliant on systems and processes that were entirely out of our realm. OK, control – call it what you will. In our delirium we also began picking up some Hindi from the “ta-dah!”, but much of it made us giggle inappropriately. The highlight was waiting for the bit where the voice said “junny bunny.” She may have been saying “arriving at” but it was still a novelty. But then, the stilted English version gave us no relief and we continued to wonder if we were all doomed to live out our days in this house of horrors. “Junny bunny” has now irrevocably entered our lexicon.

The computerised announcements also provided some baffling news, such as particular trains were now “delayed by. Twenty-two. Hours. We apologise for the inconvenience.” Twenty-two hours? Apologise? Delay? That’s not a delay, that’s a vanishing. Wouldn’t you just simply give up on that train altogether and try for the next one – or forget going anywhere at all?

Raffy took turns sleeping on either Sandy or me, and Maddy was able to get a little sleep lying across three seats and covered in a couple of jackets. The mynah birds continued their screeching hubbub and the rats continued to hustle, apparently not the least bit interested in the human beings dancing around them. Maybe they were cooking up a French feast in the kitchen next door, like in ‘Ratatouille’? One of the Dutch tourists took it upon himself to chase the rats out, with great commotion, jumping up and down, stamping, clapping and yelling. At first it was annoying but soon everyone was in on the act, pointing out a rogue rat to him so he could complete his duty, and laughing at his great performance.

5am became six, and then seven. The sun began to rise somewhere through the mist and smog, and at around 7.30 we heard that our train was due in a few minutes. The large woman supposedly in charge of the waiting room, who spent most of the time asleep, demanded some payment for her services. She got short shrift. We all gathered our gear and sleepy children, walked across the rickety overpass (as opposed to some of the railway staff who simply plodded across the tracks through rat nests, rancid water and the evidence of past trains’ toilet deposits) to the required platform. Of course, this was all too straightforward, as our train still didn’t come for another half an hour. By now we were all giggling maniacally while shivering in the half light. Junny bunny.

At five-to-eight the train limped in and we boarded, found our beds, made them with the linen provided, tucked the kids in, chained our bags to the bedrail and hit the hay. The train was only eight or so hours late, and we had only been at the station for around sixteen hours, so who’s complaining. But now we could stretch out, and the kids were safe, the gentle rocking of the carriage sending us to sleep.

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(Pic: Maybe we’re responsible for some of the smog)

At 10am I was awake, but I didn’t mind. I propped myself up in bed, whacked on my headphones and watched rural India go by. My own personal soundtrack was of Depression and war era American jazz, which seemed to match the picture-perfect scenes of agrarian Indian life framed by my dirty railcar window. I thought of the Ken Burns ‘Jazz’ documentary that used Coleman Hawkins’ brilliant ‘Body and Soul’ as a soundtrack depicting an American existence that was tough and lonely, filled with toil, desperation and blank stares, and often without respite. And here I was in bed watching it all go by and yearning for a clean hotel room.

By my calculations we should get to Varanasi by about 3pm or so, which would give us a little time in the afternoon to do some exploring before dinner and bed.

Again, wishful thinking.

The train would often stop for what seemed entire seasons, and not necessarily at stations. In what apparently was The Middle Of Nowhere, with nothing around, we would sit idly in silence waiting for something to happen. There were no announcements on the train at all and again, no official on the train had any useful information. The closest we got to a definitive arrival time was “soon”. To add insult to injury, we had to move all of our belongings off the floor as it seemed a community of scampering, furry beasts who surely had not paid a fare were on board looking for trouble. “Rats,” I said. “Why?” Sandy asked. “No, really. Rats.”

And because the train was originally due in Varanasi at breakfast time there was no food aboard. Once in a while a chai wallah would charge through, but that was basically it. Still, we were happy to sit warm and comfortable, reading, listening to music and watching India go by.

Then 3pm came and went by, as did four, five and six. The sun began to set and we were still on this infernal train, stopping and starting, with no idea for how long this would continue, or in fact if we were headed towards Varanasi or Chelm. We had received a delivery of packs of crispy things that made me feel like a prisoner of war receiving a package from the Red Cross, but the food was sometimes too spicy for the kids, and we eventually did score a lunch delivery of pre-packaged Indian fare that was wolfed down. And finally, at around 7pm, we pulled into Varanasi, a mere 27 hours after getting to the train station for a 500km trip.

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(Pic: Scene from the train)

We all piled out of the train – the Indian, the Dutch, the German, the Japanese and the Australian – and we were most pleased to find a beaming gentleman holding a hand-written sign that read: “Mr Daynle Bilay”. Close enough. Whatever. We would have taken it if it said “Moishe Pippik”. It turned out he also had the gig to collect Fabian, the young German, but he seemed to have vanished. I had got my second wind and was keen to help locate him as I wanted to get us all to the hotel pronto. Scrambling around the dark train station did nothing to locate him, and we were suggesting to the driver that, given we were some twelve hours late, maybe he just assumed nobody was waiting for him and grabbed a taxi. But then all of a sudden there he was, ambling through the throng of thousands of people coming and going. We marched swiftly into the carpark and loaded into our driver’s Hindustan Ambassador.

The hell-ride to the hotel only made us chuckle even more. In pitch blackness our driver swerved, honked, braked as hard as the anciently designed chariot would allow, and played numerous games of chicken with other cars, rickshaws, bicycles and sundry obstacles.

And then we were there.

We found the Dutchies in the restaurant – by fluke they had been booked into the same place – and we ate a meal fit for kings, comprising delicious curries, tasty morsels from the tandoor and cold Kingfisher beer. Funny how things can have a happy ending. Oh, and it was New Year’s Eve – one of the strangest ones we’ve experienced. Still, we reflected on a day that was now entirely missing, and how we would have to try to fit in our planned exploration of Varanasi the following day before boarding yet another locomotive that evening. We were exhausted but would be collected at 6am the next morning for a dawn cruise on the Ganges. We’ll be tired, but it’ll be great. And, surely the next train trip will be straightforward. Let’s put the last day or so behind us, eh?

Junny bunny.

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8 Comments»

  Wally & Eleanor wrote @

Hi DSMR I Love it. First of all I have a phobia about trains, As a last resort I will use it. To read your story ” Adventure” I would have been taken away in a straight jacket after the first announcment train delayed. Any way what is a trip if you dont have a few hiccups along the way. I noticed how well M & R are taking it no comments like “are we there yet”. We are looking forward to your return to Melb Love you all Wally & Eleanor

  yossi wrote @

hi.

long time reader, first-time poster.

this episode makes me very grateful for the “almost perfect” rail system back home in melbourne (almost, being the key word there, and perhaps, not without exaggeration).

what would travel be without horror stories? glad to hear (and see) that you are all coping and just as intrepid as when you set out.

  Pete wrote @

Guys,
What a hoot. For me India’s always been very similar to how you’ve doco’d it. Semi-controlled chaos….with Chai.
Trains…ha! Connex could take a lesson from them. And so could Melbourne commuters!
Loved the photo of the two boys: DB you’re looking Indian! Pleeeaaase come back wearing a sari – OK, a retro one: I know you could pull it off!!
We’ve got heatwave conditions for four days (daze) which is difficult be not the end of the world. Seems rather similar to what you might experience over there all the time?
Em turned 21 yesterday. Very proud; a good woman!

Luv ya faces, be well.
Pete

  David Taylor wrote @

Hi guys, Oh my God, what a trip. But in hindsight, it seems like you retained you’re sense of humour ?
Our train system is heading the same way at the moment. Maybe you should stay over there. The weather here is vile 3rd day today of 44c. Stinking filthy heat, no respite, even at night. Supposedly a change tonight only 35c tomorrow, & in the 30 ies all next week. The poor gardens are just burnt to a crisp. My camellias out the front, all the leaves are burnt brown. Yesterday, there were over 300 train cancellations, & about the same today. The last 4 days there have been power blackouts all over the suburbs. Yesterday & today “they” have started controlled shutdowns, turning power off for 2 hours, suburb by suburb. People are starting to do strange things in the heat. Yesterday, a man threw his 4 yo daughter off the top of the West Gate bridge, into the water, in front of his 2 & 6 yo sons. They got him. Melbourne has gone mad. So maybe you should stay away.
Enough doom & gloom, glad to hear you are all well.
Take care, Love & Peace, David.

  Hilary wrote @

enjoyed your more extended report sandy, and allow me to respond not to the trains: any chance of a pic of the hundreds of kites in jaipur? maybe included somehow in the next leg of your initiation into the indian railways? personally i’m very happy you didn’t have the jalopy – the road culture sounds consistent with the end of the world. i always planned to avoid india for at least my next 3 incarnations – may now make that 6! the end of the earth just about nails it in my book. look out commonwealth games!

hxx

  David Taylor wrote @

HI Guys, an update from yesterdays comment. Reached 45.1c yesterday. hottest ever in Melb. Over 700 trains canceled, over 500,000 homes blacked out, city at a standstill, people trapped in lifts, restaurants in blackout, no food or service, the whole of Crown evacuated, for hours, no trains at all last night, fires in Gippsland, 15 homes destroyed, city loop closed, ice cream & food shops giving away food, before it spoils, people evacuated from Concert Hall & State theatre, for safety reasons. TOTAL BEDLAM. A fire is now heading towards the La Trobe valley, if it can’t be stopped, there will be virtually no power for Melb.
I feel like I’m writing something like H.G.Wells “War of the Worlds”.
Sorry that was so gloomy, just wanted to keep you up to date.
Take care, Love & Peace, David.

  Liz wrote @

Thanks for your “Pun” message – we both had a giggle. India is certainly a culture challenge for you but your sense of humour prevails fortunately. Thanks for all the blogs – they are so full of interesting information that I have to arrange to have adequate time to read and absorb them. I hope you are cooler than we are here – we are in Bendigo and it continues to be HOT HOT HOT – looking forward to winter
Continue toenjoy your travels
Liz

  drivearoundtheworld wrote @

Hi Karsten

We are not a travel company, just private travellers. I suggest you have a look at http://www.indiandata.com/travel/delhi_travel_agents.html

Regards

Danny


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