Day two- is that really possible? It seems like longer... We woke up today after a somewhat painful rest (as sleep wasn't consistent enough to call it "sleep") on the hard, top sheet-less beds, and noticed that the streets were quieter than the day before. Still lots of honking, yelling and bustle, but less of it. A boy was throwing huge chunks of meat up into the air and a hawk was swooping down and grabbing them. We went downstairs to find breakfast, and the manager tried to get us to pay for another full day because we had not checked out at 5 am, which would have been 24 hours after our check-in. After some back-and-forth, we compromised and paid for one room so we could keep our bags there while we continued on to the sights of the day. (Our breakfast turned out to be curried dal and roti (beans and bread), spicy and delicious, and $1 for all three of us.)
We thought we knew where to catch the subway. There was a big staircase near the Red Fort labeled "Subway," and we made assumptions... We confidently strode past all the rickshaw and tuck-tuck drivers offering to take us somewhere, and down the stairs, only to find that their version of a subway was a little more literal. It was a pedestrian walkway that crossed under the heavily trafficked street above. We sheepishly walked back past the drivers and asked for directions. We made our way to Humayun's tomb on a bus (it was beautiful, more adorable puppies, and almost empty, we laid in the grass and listened to music from a nearby temple) then to the Lotus Temple (an enormous white marble structure with giant lotus petal reaching high and wide and blue pools that mimicked the leaves, gardens and flowers and inconsistently placed barbed wire) on another bus and tuck-tuck (think golf cart but faster, painted bright green with a yellow roof and a chain-smoking driver), and then back to New Delhi to book train tickets, via the very impressive new metro system. (The trains aren't sectioned, so if you are in the last car, and the train is on a straight track, you can see allllll the way to the first car. It was also clean, air-conditioned and our most expensive ride was about 30 cents each. After over an hour and at least six different windows, we were told the train was sold out, but we could try the Old Delhi railway station for a similar train. After at least six more windows there, we were again told that the train was sold out, no hope of getting to Dharamsala in time for classes. We sent Sarah to see how much a cab would cost for the 10 hour drive (about $170) as I pleaded with the man behind the counter. I finally asked him where the bus station was, at which point he turned to a female colleague and began a conversation with her. They talked or a while, long enough that I was wondering if he was done with me, but I stuck around and finally he sent me to another window with the woman, who I figured out had interceded on my behalf. She told me later that she made them give me a seat on the train (three seats, actually) because she was concerned about what would happen if we room the bus, which apparently full of "troubles." We got our tickets for the lowest class seats on the overnight train (about $5 each) and ran out to get our bags from the hotel (and a papaya) before the train left at 9:15. (Mac also stopped to get some food. He actually got so much food - four whole meals - that the men who were preparing it for him started to laugh every time he said "and some..." He's very good at eating.) We got to the station and found the platforms (it was either coming to 4 or 6 according to the tickets). When the train pulled up, chaos ensued- the cars weren't marked, so there was much dispute about which car was which. Six women in black veils- full coverage- very rudely pushed me out of my seat and took over the whole section. They were ultimately made to move, as the car agreed the seat (and the two next to it) were ours. We stowed our bags overhead and sat down, settling in or the night, laughing about how much nonsense was going on and how much easier it would be if the cars were marked. Just before we started moving, a train pulled into platform 6 ( we were on 4) and Mac and I both wondered aloud if we were on the right train, sort of joking at first, but we quickly decided we'd better ask. Nobody in the sleep car (the lowest class car) spoke English, and no one seemed to know if we were on the right train, but we looked at their tickets and realized, just as the train started moving, that we were not. We were headed to Lucknow, east instead of North. We jumped up and I started wrestling our bags down as Mac took them from me and ran for the door. I was right after him, but Sarah had headed or the other end of the train. We jumped out as the train was pulling away, and as I looked back for Sarah, I saw her standing in the doorway, looking like she wasn't going to jump. She finally did, but in the confusion she had gotten Mac's backpack-way too big for her- and as she jumped, it pulled her down back-first, so she landed, hard, on her back, on the the backpack. We ran across to platform 4, and nobody seemed to know that train number, either. We finally found someone who told us that our train had been delayed two hours - "the cost of delay is regretted"- and that it would be coming on another platform. It is now almost three hours later, and we are still waiting... ;) This place is fun. It keeps you on your toes.
Amanda has been teaching yoga, making (and eating) delicious raw/vegan food and coaching people for almost ten years. All that experience has taught her just how much there is still to learn, explore and discover.