Getting aboard a train at Delhi’s main station is no small feat.  I went in armed with the swagger of an old veteran traveler.  I walked out whimpering like a beaten dog.  I went first to a vaguely marked window and waited patiently in line for awhile, before first one Indian and then another pushed past me to the window without even looking in my direction.  They crowded up to the window hollering for the beleagured and exasperated official with no concept of personal space.  Apparently I’d have to do the same it looked like.  Finally I was told to visit the tourist info office upstairs.  Despite the complete lack of coherent sign-age, I managed to find it and found that there was 45 minute wait just to have someone listen to your question.  I went back downstairs and found another window and asked for a ticket to Jaipur.  She looked at me like I was from the moon.  Which train and which time did I want?  Course since all the trains and times were hand-written on a marker board in Hindi this went nowhere fast.  Finally I found out that I could go to a reservation window and get it there, but I should come back tomorrow and not waste my time.  Not waste my time?!!  I had already spent two friggin hours in this black hole of doom and had accomplished nothing aside from getting my daily sweat-bath going.  I was fed up and left the train station defeated.
 
The next day I walked straight up to the reservation window.  After waiting 45 minutes and grabbing two Indians by the arm and telling them to wait behind me, I managed to get to the window.  The guy said reservations closed 45 minutes before the train left, and it was now 5 minutes too late to use this window.
 
Now I’ve built up a pretty hefty dose of patience which you need a lot of when traveling, but in that instant I realized that my account had run dry.  I yelled at the guy: "Can’t you see I’ve been waiting 45 minutes for these bozos to stop cutting in front of me and for you to issue 1 ticket this whole time?  5 minutes too late my ass!"  Course this approach was about as helpful to my situation as a burnt match.  He pointed that way where apparently I could still buy a ticket.  I was on the war-path, and when I found the window I put up with no line-cutting BS and shoved my way to the front.  The lady quickly gave me a ticket that cost $3.50 US.  Uh-oh.
 
My fears were founded: soon I realized that I was stuck in general admission, where there are no seats and its crowded to the ceiling with folks (who have interesting takes on acceptable public hygiene).  I found a spot to sit down between the cars with my leg hanging out the door.  The odors from the open toilet were horrendous, and the train sat in the sun refusing to leave the station.  Finally it got going and it was sweet relief.  As the train built up speed I actually found my seat to be quite enjoyable.  I mean, here I was with my leg hanging out the train riding across India with a cool breeze in my face.  I felt like an adventurous hobo.
 
After passing the ghettos of the suburbs, lined with children playing in rancid water and piles of garbage, finally we got into the countryside.  It was my first look at India outside the city.  We passed people farming crops and herding goats, and it could have been Cambodia or Indonesia.  I wondered what drove these people in such numbers to the filthy overcrowded cities when they could just live a more simple, wholesome life out here?  But of course I knew the answer.  Its for the same reason I left Ohio, to get a better job and see the "world".  Unfortunately, just like in LA, all too often the dreams die hard when they reach the city.  I don’t think many of them thought after 40 years of work they’d be pedaling a broken rickshaw for 50 rupees a day.
 
Hours went by and the landscape slowly became more barren and desert-like.  I was excited…I was out of the rat’s nest of Delhi and entering the Land of the Kings: Rajasthan.
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