International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: India - From Our Archives
The New Dehli Train Station
huge New Delhi train station towers ahead of me but before I reach
that I have to cross the ocean of bright yellow auto rickshaws that
form a fat snake on the road in front of me. I finally reach the
station and stand in the massive entrance hall as people mill around.
No signs anywhere show the way to the foreigners desk and touts
are making it impossible to concentrate. My helpless searching is
attracting them like flies.
stocky young man in a white shirt aggressively asks me for a ticket
but I ignore him, he comes up close asking 'are you crazy' pointing
to his brain the whites of his eyes right in my face. I continue ignoring
him and stand motionless. He persists so I finally move away and he
drops away eventually. He is soon replaced by another tout and then
another. A big fat man grabs me as I try mistakenly to enter the departure
gate, and shouts at me if I understand English like I am stupid. Finally,
a small man with an ugly brutish face and beatles mop top becomes physical
when I ignore his directions to the 'government approved ticket office'.
It is all an unsettling experience and I leave shaken and on the verge
Returning to the hotel I feel defeated and hopeless, but the thought
of having to spend another day in Delhi forces me back.
I psyche myself up on the walk along paharganj's main thoroughfare as
tourists browse, and shop owners prepare their shops for the evening
I scan the building once it comes into view making my way once more
across the car park. Then in the corner of my eye I see the tout who
was the worst and catch my breath, luckily he doesn't come over.
Then I look up at the building one more time to try and see any signs
or anything I'd missed that might give me a clue to where the elusive
'international tourist board ' is and shining like a beacon in huge
white letters, on a huge blue sign is - 'International Tourist Bureau',
I almost relieve myself with joy. How stupid could I have been? I had
even seen one of the signs before, but in my confusion it hadn't registered.
Now, I stride forth confidently, my self belief restored and I find
the office with ease.
Slightly disapointingly no-one bothers me this time.
However, the final hurdle has yet to be overcome, Indian bureaucracy.
I have to fill out a laborious application form and wait in a complicated
queing system, to receive my ticket from a complicated booking system.
But I receive my ticket nonetheless and am literally so happy and filled
with relief that I am shaking. I glance drunkenly across at the other
travellers in the waiting room who look nonchalant and nonplussed with
the whole experience whereas I am a quivering wreck. Am I the only one
that India does this to? ?
I consider shouting 'I am 'never, ever, ever, returning to this shit
hole EVER again' as I leave, but I resist the urge and just decide to
have a beer at the hotel in celebration instead. Travelling around India
is proving to be somewhat challenging.
© Paul Haire May 2009
a Chinese sauna
One of my students who I teach English to recently invited me to
a sauna to see a show and have dinner. I was slightly apprehensive
Working as a Model
Yesterday I had a very unusual experience, possibly the most unusual
experience Ive had in my life so far.
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