Sunday 29th September
After checking out of the Residency, Fort Hotel – which had really started to feel a bit like home, we splurged, but only on a non A/C taxi which took us across town to Dadar.
What in the HELL was going on in Dadar?? We thought it must have been a MAJOR festival or something because the streets were completely crammed with clamouring people, stall owners, fruit, vegetables, endless clothes and fabrics of every conceivable colour, shape and style, and of course the ubiquitous honking taxis and motorbikes. You could hardly move, think or speak!! In all this utter chaos we also had no idea where our room was likely to be. According to Google maps it was situated right in the middle of a block of buildings with no access. And so it proved to be when we finally managed to phone the owner who sent someone out for us. The rooms was actually situated down a passageway just off the main street which was lined with people sitting on concrete shelves enjoying a fresh sugarcane juice pressed by a man at the entrance. So once again we had to run the gamut of hordes of people staring at the strange “Gordis” or foreigners as we passed through them. By the way, there was a minor festival, but we were told it was pretty much a normal Sunday evening in Dadar!!!
Our room was a concrete box with no window which we immediately dubbed the “prison cell”, but at least it was cool and just slightly clean. There was no towels or toilet paper and we broke out Paul’s camping sheet to cover over the mattress in case of bed bugs! After that it was time to brave the streets again as we had to check out the platform we needed at the train station the following morning, eat a meal, buy a train picnic and find some more cash as the room owner wouldn’t take a card.
Every cash machine rejected our cards, sometimes worryingly after we’d put in our PIN and requested an amount. Each time we hung around to see if the Indian ATM customer after us was acting as if they’d won the lottery but no-one jumped for joy, so hopefully the machine didn’t dispense and we haven’t been charged. You may be relieved to learn, that we did eventually manage to get hold of some cash.
The fiesta in the streets only intensified and got madder as night wore on!
Monday 30th September
Up at 4.30 am – deepest joy! We gratefully left the prison cell but felt guilty and were sobered during the short walk to the station, by the sight of many men, women and children sleeping on the concrete pavements without even a pillow or a cover. It had rained in the night and the streets were yet again wet and muddy.
We had been looking forward to the amazing glass roofed “Vistadome” train as a highlight of this part of our journey. Sadly it was not to be as there was there was no Vistadome carriage so we ended up in a slightly (Paul says more than slightly!) old and grotty sleeper carriage with permanently steamed up windows for our 8 ½ hour (or 11 ½ hour – we are writing this part of the blog on the train and at present we’re not quite sure) journey. However it is quite roomy, air conditioned and has padded seats. The passengers in 2nd class have hard seats and only have room to sit upright for the whole journey. We’re really starting to appreciate how pampered and easy our lives are!