Somehow, this whole experience deserved a separate entry. Just when I felt perfectly relaxed after four days in the best hotel so far, the Gods decided it was time for some stress.
'So I leave at eight thirty, right? Eight thirty the taxi is here. Eight thirty.' You imagine that repeating that line four or five times to your hotel manager would do the trick. Taxi, eight thirty. That's it. I even tried to say it with an Indian accent.
It was no use. Eight thirty, no taxi.
What can I say, I tried.
Usually I have no issues with some delays, but this time I had to catch the night train to Lucknow. While Haridwar train station was only 30km, this would be my first travel by train this trip so I wanted to be early to figure things out. Also, I was pretty lucky to get a decent class bed, so missing this train would constitute a setback (one of non-epic proportions, but still).
Apparently I (silly, silly me) made the mistake of answering truthfully when the manager asked the departure time of my train. That part he got. The part that I wanted to leave early to be early, either he missed it (unlikely) or he didn't think it made much sense and therefore arranged things as he figured was best (likely). He promised the taxi would be here by nine though, which would leave me with less but still sufficient time to find my way at the station. Nothing to worry about, the taxi is on its way.
Yihaahaa right. Nine o'clock, no taxi. Nine five, no taxi. Nine ten, no taxi. Patience is a virtue, but this is slightly pushing it. Haridwar may not be that far, but with the traffic here you really never know whether "you be there in forty minutes, no whoarry sir" really means you'll be there in forty (with or without the 'whoarry').
Nine fifteen. By this time I'm getting a bit concerned. Forget about being early, how about arriving there on time? The fact that the manager seems to get a bit nervous as well isn't very reassuring. Time is running out and other people are getting nervous as well, oh my. In the words of Princess Lea (for the non-believers: Star Wars): I don't know about you, but I have a bad feeling about this.
Nine twenty. There are lights, movements.... Finally, the taxi I would have preffered to see fifty minutes earlier was there. Nice car, not a very talkative guy, but who cares. Run Shadowfax, show us the meaning of haste!
This guy was in no rush though. After five minutes (I was just beginning to get more at ease, at least we were driving) he pulled over, got out and got engaged in one extensively spitting session. Not sure whether he was sick or what, but it was not a good sign.
Hundred meters, and again, the spitting. For fuck's sake, get it out and drive.
Luckily, things got better after the second session. Relatively speaking.
Just when I needed a crazy taxi driver who overtakes everyone like a maniac with a death wish, I get the one who drives like a gentleman (Indian standards). Warning others for dangers (major potholes), only relatively safe takeovers and even giving other drivers the opportunity to take over our car. He didn't even attempt to drive at max speed. Madness. Absolute madness.
Lady Luck hadn't abandoned me completely however. Only one of the three train crossings we passed was closed (for a seriously long train though) and there was little traffic in Haridwar. So, fifteen minutes before the train would depart we arrived at the station. Luckily, the train was just straight ahead and even finding the right coach (they have paper lists with the names on them on the outside) and my 'bed' was quite easy.
Finally. The train has left for Lucknow and I'm on it.