My second day in India continued with people meetings. First I was picked up at my accommodation by a driver and Rawat. Rawat is a very nice man who has been picking up customers from my Goa colleague at the airport for years. A very reserved gentle man in his mid-50s, whose vision is unfortunately fading more and more. Currently, he sees only 10%. There is something very touching about the way he navigates through life.
The sky was grey and stayed that way for the most part. We drove to the airport, where we picked up clients of mine. A lovely couple who have been organising their trips to India with me for years and whom I already know personally. They are now in their early 80s and still eager to experience more of India.
Together we drove to Nizamuddin station and thought again how enormous huge Delhi is. From there, our train left for Haridwar. Exactly – not only me + clients wanted to be on the same train, Prashant also joined us and so all four of us travelled 5.5 hours to Haridwar.
The train journey was not so eventful – we started on time and arrived earlier than on time. In between, it was once extremely crowded with young men who had a job interview with the army. Otherwise, 90% of the travellers wanted to go to Rishikesh/Haridwar and there was a corresponding hustle and bustle on the platforms. Next to us was a group from Odisha who had been travelling for a long time and wanted to go on a pilgrimage.
What fascinates me again and again in India are these faceless cities, where tens of thousands people live in houses, where I don’t see any real beauty at first glance, neither in the houses nor in the area. And then you pass by on the train (or bus or car) and I stare out and think: sooooo many people, what each of their lives is like, how they feel, what thoughts they have, what stories they experience, what countless microcosms open up there. Here are a few pictures from the train:
It seemed to me that India was looking for a bit more concrete beautification, there was quite a bit of painting to be seen in public spaces.
And then we were at Haridwar station, pushing our way through many crowds to the station forecourt. The following observations were made:
1. the rolling suitcases are getting popular here too and there are fewer and fewer porters.
2. there are people who bravely want to take the escalator, but have never done it before and then get very scared and refuse to step on the rolling steps and by the time they are gone again towards the stairs, a big backlog has formed.
3. you are almost never spoken to. Only the porters spoke to us, but no one wanted to drag us into the taxi, hotel or anywhere else.
We were picked up and drove to Rishikesh and took the clients to their accommodation and then Prashant and I headed for ours and there we met Binodh who got it for us.
Here are the following notes:
1. it gets dark at 19:00
2. Rishikesh is 300 m above sea level at the foot of the mountains and it is a bit cooler than Delhi.
3. it is madly crowded with shops, accommodation, restaurants, travel agencies and whatever people need on the road. It was already crowded in 2005, but it seemed to me to have filled up even more unbelievably. However, there were not so many travellers on the road just then, the restaurants empty. Monday. And not quite in season yet.
4. i always fall for estimating the time for a route by km and not by the Indian reality – and so we needed about 45 min. for the 27 km.
The plan for tomorrow: organise, look around, have dinner with clients.