But it’s not the sounds of the New Delhi Train Station at 5:30 AM that are the most memorable. It’s the smells. Food vendors are setting up, so the promise of fried snacks and corn on the cob are in air (and the leftovers from the day before are in the gutter). As people wake up and get ready for the day, they need to use the toilet. Which is often the fields next to the train. And the train station adds a particular note of diesel fuel to the air. The smells of the diesel mix with the mass of general body odor from the people sleeping on the floor of the train station, which accompanied by the smell of waste, rotting food, and the occasional fresh betel spit (a leaf filled with spices that is constantly chewed and then spit in arcs of bright red onto whatever surface is nearby) creates an almost indescribable cacophony to further enhance the calm that exists on the train. At least if you are riding in the A/C cars.
Katey has not yet been brave enough to ride in the open air cars. But she also prefers to not ride in first class. The 2nd and 3rd class A/C are perfectly fine, even for solo travelers. The express train to Jaipur comes with breakfast, tea, and a large bottle of water. As she wasn’t awake yet, Katey did not have the breakfast, but enjoyed her tea as the sun came up.
The ride was uneventful, with only a couple of children testing the limits of their lungs along with the patience of their parents. Katey arrived in Jaipur at 10:45. She was met at the train by her friend and helper, Rahis. He will be acting as driver and translator as she heads out into the villages. After checking into the hotel (more will be written later) and a lovely lunch of South Indian food, Katey opted to jump right in and go find some silver jewelry.
However, as they were driving to the jeweler, there was an earthquake. While it was a bit of swaying and rumbling in Jaipur and Delhi, the areas near the epicenter in Pakistan and Afghanistan were much harder hit. Not only were the staff spooked by the earthquake, but there was an unscheduled power cut as well. This means that while Katey got to look at some beautiful jewelry, she wasn’t able to watch the artists or talk to them about their work, so she’ll return later in the week.
It was an early night for Katey, and while working on this blog post, she might have fallen asleep early…