Friday, May 9, 2008

Greetings from: Varanasi Junction Train Station

I spent more time here than I actually meant to -- a result of forgetfulness and vacillation. My original plan was to pop in, grab my ticket to Delhi, and wait out the rest of the hot, hot afternoon. However: India: Live with it. The evening’s train was all booked and I didn’t want to tote my luggage all the way back, just to be denied a spot from the waiting list. I would have gotten my ticket yesterday, but I forgot to bring my passport. While there at the station, I ran into a British couple I had befriended earlier, Hannah and Jack. They were to have left at 10 in the morning, but it was now 1 in the afternoon, and their train had been delayed further. Not an auspicious sign. I secured my ticket for tomorrow (May 9) and made my way back to the hotel to book another night.

But as I sat in my auto-rickshaw (a half-hour of my joints getting loosened from their sockets), I thought, Geez, I’d love to go to someplace with cool weather. I’d already hit Shimla, and I needed a respite before I tackled Gujarat, a.k.a the salt furnace. And in spite of Wes Anderson’s film, I decided: Darjeeling. If I love the tea, why wouldn’t I love the actual location?

So there you have it. I schlepped myself back to the train station, where Jack and Hannah were still waiting (new estimated time of embarking, 4:30), returned my ticket to Delhi (with a whopping 200 Rs. cancellation fee), and bought a ticket for New Jalpaiguri (the way station to Darjeeling). This is the first leg of the trip which was completely unplanned, and thus I have no hotel accommodation when I arrive. Let’s hear it for spontaneity.

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