Travel Diaries Night 4 & Day 6: A Hurried Farewell
The lashing of rain continued, punctuated by thunder and lightning. We arrived at around 8 pm, and to the chagrin of taxi drivers outside the station, discovered that our hotel was located at walking distance from the station. That was the last pleasant surprise that night. Of course, surprises never stopped after that, but they weren’t pleasant. (or were they?)
The hotel looked nothing like its picture on the booking website. It was a derelict building located at the end of a narrow by-lane where not a single street lamp was functioning. As opposed to the smart, polite receptionists we had encountered at other hotels, the desk here was occupied by a lanky, dark man who had little slits of brown eyes.
“Your room is on third floor. We have no lift, no bellboy.” he barked in a gruff voice. Upon asking about food, he curtly informed that the hotel did not even have its own restaurant, and walked out into the night towards a shop of country liquor.
The room too was a small, dimly lit place reeking of cigarette smoke. A half-torn hand-written chit stuck on the bathroom door informed the occupants that hot water for bath would be available only between 7:00 am to 10:00 am in the morning. To be honest, I was enjoying and dreading at the same time, the creepy looks of the hotel, but it was wise to get out of here as soon as possible. So, we decided to squeeze Umaid Bhavan Palace and Merangarh Fort in one day and leave Jodhpur as fast as possible.
We booked tickets for the 9:30 am Marudhar Express to Jaipur, and on day 6, checked out of the hotel at 8:30. (because the previous night the concierge, albeit under the influence of alcohol had let it slip that even though the hotel’s online brochure stated that it offered 24-hour check-out, the actual check-out time was 10:00 am.)
Unfortunately, the railway station welcomed us with the announcement that the train was delayed by six hours. Armed with a book, a laptop, and a Wifi device, I had absolutely no problem with this, but the impatient Dreamer began cursing Indian Railways under his breath.
Here, I must tell you something about the Dreamer’s history and character, and why, despite being a close friend, I eek to keep a safe distance from him.
The Dreamer has never travelled by second class, or general class on train. His grandfather was a Goan freedom fighter and this meant first class journey at concessional rates. When he grew up to be a lawyer, he inherited his father’s well-established practice. There is no doubt he works hard to stay where he is and make his own ground as a lawyer, but he never saw financial hardships. He does not know how to compromise. Even as he was now cursing the Indian railways, he had conveniently forgotten the fact that he was doing it while sitting in the air-conditioned first-class waiting room.
It was my first time travelling in first class. I am a seasoned sleeper-class passenger who loves his railway food and can strike friendships with random passengers. I happily sink into books if the train is late, and love observing people on the station and creating stories in my head. I have never had any issues with long waits. On the contrary, I have come to love them as it gives ample time to daydream.
Desires and expectations had prevented the Dreamer from the enjoying the colourful scenes that were staring him right in the eye. A guy who was driving some kind of cleaning machine on the station was simultaneously playing with a cute puppy, and he looked happier than the rich lawyer. A woman was profoundly thanking a policeman for having found her missing luggage, and they were both happier than the lawyer. And then there was me. Rather than listen to theDreamer's rant, I was busy eavesdropping on a South Indian sales manager who was heading home to get married. He was discussing his wedding plans with his friends. None of these people were bothered by the noise and dust or the delayed train. They had all found their own happiness.One had only to notice the joy that was around, and the stories that had brought it about.
If you ask me, I loved the rainy night, and the creepy hotel, and the colourful concierge, and managed to finish writing a blog post while waiting for the delayed train. The train arrived at 2:00 pm, and we slept out the whole journey to Jaipur.We arrived in Jaipur at 8:00 pm and spent the night wrapping things up.
The journey back home was smooth, apart from the fact that the security insisted on checking for drugs, the Rajasthani puppet dolls that I was carrying, because I was travelling to Goa. I will wrap up this blog and these travel diaries here. And while most writers will throw cliched sentences such as “one should travel more, it gives you so much…”, here's my lesson from the tour:
Take long Uber rides& talk2 driver2 know social situation in new city; walk on streets& observe. Avoid yellow taxis, local crooks.#Travel— Jay Joshi (@Jaythegreatuk) January 30, 2017
So, now on to other stories till we set out to travel again!
Q: What happened to the business idea you guys were talking about?
A: That story has kind of acquired a life of its own, and I am still working on it.