Home > Travel > It never trains but it bores

It never trains but it bores

India, Day Thirteen – Agra

Today has really pissed me off. I’ve been trying to obtain a train ticket to Lucknow, but it’s been impossible. I went to Agra Fort Station, where the man just told me to get a bus. Later I went to Agra Cantonment Station (where I arrived from Delhi). This started to look more promising; I filled in a reservation form, then a man directed me to a counter (he was an autorickshaw driver wanting my custom) where I was told I could get a 3AC (3rd class, air conditioned – a considerable step up from ‘Sleeper’ class) sleeper berth if I booked a ticket for the whole Mathura-Lucknow journey (Mathura is about 30 miles in the opposite direction). Then I stood at the counter for actually booking the ticket for about 40 minutes … and was told there was nothing available in any class until the 31st.

So my travel plans are in a state of chaos. Really, I should have tried booking in advance of this. I looked around briefly in the station when I arrived in Agra, but could see anywhere obvious to make enquiries. I decided I could leave it a little longer. The reservation office there has a separate entrance 100 metres or so from the platform entrance. Not that knowing that is much help now.

So how do I travel to Lucknow and Varanasi now? Bus, I suppose. According to the Lonely Planet it takes ten hours. At this point, I don’t really know how I’ll achieve this – whether to book in advance or turn up at the station (and which station) and get on a bus.

The other possibility – suggested by the English girl who shared my Fatehpur Sikri adventure yesterday – is going to a travel agent. Given that the only Indians I’ve spoken to have generally been people trying to seduce into giving them money one way or another, or fairly dour hotel and restaurant staff, I don’t particularly care to trust an Indian as far as I can throw them. Which is a pretty sad state of affair, I readily admit. Apparently, the travel agents charge ten or fifteen rupees for their services, and my fellow British traveller didn’t express any qualms about using them.

Hotel booking is the other issue, of course. Varanasi may be difficult as, apparently, there’s a Hindu festival there at the moment. I sent a couple of e-mails to places in Lucknow, but I’m not at all sure that I’ll be there on Monday, as I intended.

The whole experience – facing a new culture with a set of foreign expectations and not knowing the best way to deal with these sorts of issues – is making me feel quite stupid. And if there’s one thing I hate (more than being cold, more, perhaps – probably – than anything else at all), it’s feeling stupid.

Categories: Travel
  1. Em Perdue
    23 December 2007 at 12:47 am

    Here’s the agency I’ve used successfully for 4 trips in 4 years. Saves the hassles you are experiencing–unless that is what you prefer. :Indebo can help with services you need in any city. India is getting more expensive now.
    116-117 Aurobindo Place
    Hauz Khas, New Delhi – 110 016 India
    t: + 91 11 2686 1722
    f: + 91 11 2686 2122
    e: rajesh@indebo.com
    w: http://www.indebo.com

  2. 23 December 2007 at 5:51 am

    Thanks. Looks like I can get a train from the nearby town of Tundla without too much difficulty. Maybe.

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