The bikes had been neatly packed and parceled from the Jaipur Golden office near Safed Pul (Sakinaka) for Rs 1600 and now it was time for us to catch the train.
Life in the sleeper class
It was as exciting as train journeys across the country go. We shared the coach with an astrologer whose prediction book had dates of recent festivals wrong but made tall claims on the duration of Kalyug, Satyug, etc. but had the date of an upcoming festival wrong.
There was an unusually large number of passengers with waiting list tickets who repeatedly walked into our coach to talk to the ticket checker (Gajendra Singh). Many stayed back to take up our seats and tended to sleeep off extending their legs over all three seats as soon as we were out.
Ticketless passengers (who looked like migrant labour) were harassed by the fat TC in plain clothes and their mobile phones were taken away when they could not give the money for the fine.
Egg biryani is the safest thing to eat on a train journey. At least you get boiled eggs that will keep you going. With the veg or chicken options a million things could go wrong and they did (for my fellow passengers) making them go hungry.
We were sharing our coach with a young Dentist from Chandigarh. Got a lot of tips off him and we knew all the hotspots that shouldn't be missed in the city. He had been trying to get a US visa for the last two years but complained that the officials tended to be biased against Punjabis as they are seen as potential citizenship seekers. This gave me the impression that he might have bigger plans than the average illegal immigrant and I asked him what he planned to do if he got the visa this time around. His reply was as straight as they come, "Stay back in the US of course".
Life in the unreserved class
At Godhra, a passenger asked a platform vendor for bhajiya worth 3 rupees only for him to ridicule the amount and walks off.
Life along the tracks
At Ambala, I was walking along the platform when a lady shouted “Police Police”. A policeman walking next to me stopped to investigate. She pointed at a guy (with an outfit that would make Dev Anand proud) who was drinking on the adjacent seat. He continued to drink openly from a beer bottle, perhaps too drunk to even realize that a policeman was watching. The policeman got him off but he wouldn't let go of the bottle.
Saw a dog eating a cow just outside Varanasi station!