Unlike before, in the land of no time, I’ve learnt how to be on time for my train. I arrive at Sealdah train station only to find a notice saying that the Sealdah – Ajmer express is delayed until 3 am. (This is 9 pm, scheduled departure 11pm) After allowing myself a few minutes of panic, I take hold of the situation and make my way to the cafeteria where I was to spend the rest of the night.
I try to spot any foreigners who might be on the way to Ajmer, only to learn that everybody is on their way to Darjeeling. After an hour or so, a family joins me. The waiting time now seemed shorter , as we spoke about Rajasthan, Kolkata and with the daughter played country – capital. They’re a beautiful family from Bikaner living in Kanpur whom I hope to meet and spend some time with them in the future. I’ve kept in touch with them until today They suggested some Rajasthani food such as lassi badam (which I’ve tried), Gajjak (tried!), dal bati churma (NJAM! – and home made by the wonderful Pratibha), etc etc and sang mera joota hai japani until it was time to take the train.
We ran on the platform when the train arrived, everyone clapping and sighing – finally the journey is about to begin. A young man helped me get my not so light luggage the upper berth, and finally I could sleep. I didn’t sleep much first night and during the day neither. We spoke and shared food, only to be stopped by the police from sharing food. For one’s safety, one should not share food with strangers.
The man who helped me the night before happens to be on his way to a marriage, in the city which I love dearly, Varanasi. Am already tempted to stop in Varanasi.. to add to this, I get invited to join in the wedding. I had to remind myself that am on the way to Pushkar. As they both get down in Mugalsaraj (or something similar the name). The two berths are taken by a French couple. We have a good time, talking, sharing food and getting to know each other.
Before reaching Kanpur, I ran quickly to coach 9 to hug the beautiful Shweta and Anu. I know I will miss them. On my way back to my coach, I get to know a Bangladeshi family, also on their way to Ajmer. I change my berth and stay with them. They were the ones who would take care of me during the night while I suffer from bad gastric problems due to train quality overpriced thali.
At 5am the train stops in the middle of nowhere. According to our previous calculations round 5am we had to reach Jaipur. The French were to stop here. As we are told it is not Jaipur, we go back to sleep. Every time waking up to find the train still stationary. We tried understanding what happened but to no avail. Finally, we decided to get off the train, join the men outside who had already built fires, smoke a cigarette and listen to the morning chai chai chai chai chai mantra. The train did not leave before 8.30am.
We got to Jaipur and 45mins later we were in Ajmer. Outside Ajmer train station was the usual nightmare, rickshaw madame, bus stand, pushkar? I find one cyclorickshaw driver who asks a decent fare to take me to the bus stand. Although a few hours earlier I had considered the offer of the Bangladeshi family to go with them on the pilgrim to the Khadim and stay one day or so in Ajmer, as soon as I knew Pushkar was only 40 minutes I felt its magnetism drawing me towards it.
I arrive at the bus stand. Find my bus.. and.. chalo Pushkar. As the ticket person speaks to me in Hindi and I look at him helplessly. (Apparently I took his seat and sat on his scarf…!)