So after a gruelling 36-hour marathon train journey, I arrived in the hustle and bustle of Delhi. Getting picked up by an enthusiastic taxi driver, he phones his friend to ask for directions to the nearest nice hotel, with a swimming pool. The friend jumps in the car and continues to phone various people, probably trying to get some commission for his troubles. Not a good look.
Initially, I was thinking to go straight through Delhi to catch a 14/15-hour bus to Dharamshala, my final destination in India. After the first 30 hours onboard the train, I knew this was too big an ask for any man. Especially me.
The first 12 hours were OK in fairness. And, even the 24-hour mark came and went without too much hassle - or sleep for that matter. I had the smallest bunk in the compartment: standard class of course. I was mingling with the masses. Young and old families, suspiciously close male friends, and me. The only foreigner for miles around.
Any minute amounts of sleep were usually disturbed by cries of chai, coffee, chai, chai, chai, coffee, coffee, coffeeee! I was wondering about writing all eight sayings of the same two words. I figured if I had to put up with listening to it so many times, the least you could do is read it once.
Entrepreneurs were selling all manner of random things like glowing keyrings etc. However, on a much more serious note, there were 20 or so beggars. Each with their own uniquely horrific scars. Blindness like I've never seen outside of horror movies. People crippled on their knees, unable to stand. I gave something to all of them until my change had run out.
If the train stopped for a red light, an army of men would jump down to stretch their legs, breathe some fresh air, and go to the toilet. Some did all three at the same time.
I'd hang out the train door frequently, just because you can. Countries that don't embrace the over-protective health and safety systems we have in the west are so much more fun. Danger is exciting. It's a little scarier at night but a refreshing experience nonetheless.
The train steamed past cattle bathing in mud, monkeys chilling at a station, farmers ankle-deep in flooded fields, flamingos, peacocks and hundreds of miles of beautiful countryside.
So I managed to find a reasonably lousy hotel. I paid too much I'm sure at 2000R / £20 for the night with breakfast. It had a bed, and a shower and I guess that's all I really needed.
It's looking like I probably won't see the Taj Mahal while I'm here but that's OK. I'm not really in the mood for sightseeing. I came here to work and learn and the Tibetan people need me – their new teacher, and student, is coming.
Anyways I was in Egypt for six years and never saw the pyramids. So I can do India without the Taj. I will be back one day inshallah.
I have a few hours left to chill on a sofa in a sweaty hotel lobby, somewhere in Delhi, before the next chapter begins…