January 3-4, 1999
It was in Jodhpur where the Frenchman took his leave from
us, but not our hearts and memories. He headed off to the bus station to book tickets for
the rest of his tour of Rajastan. Our plan, when we arrived in Jodhpur at 5:30 am, was to
go directly to the ticket counter, when it opened, at 8 am to buy tickets for the 3 pm
train to Bombay. A simple plan based in the world of fantasy.
At 7:50 am, we found out that the ticket counter we
thought we wanted (#22) was a half a mile down the road from the train station where we
sat and waited. Josh and Mike set off for counter 22 while Jeff guarded the bags. When we
got to the front of the line the man behind the counter said, "Window 28!" The
duo went to get in line at window 28,and Josh, thinking that the line was a little too
long to later be redirected, went to the inquiry window, to double check that the line
they were in was, in fact, the line in which to be!
Ticket Guy (in normal Indian style): "Not Possible,
go to counter 11."
Josh: "Where is counter 11?"
Ticket Guy: "Main Terminal. Next!"
Mike left line 28 and together they headed for counter
11, which was a half-mile away, back at the main terminal. Why half of the windows were
located in the main terminal and half were in another building a half-mile away would
remain just one more Indian quandary never to be solved. At ticket counter 11
Ticket Guy: "Tickets? Maybe. Come back at
Deciding that failure was eminent, they went back to the
tourist office to consult with Jeff and discuss the options. According to the
"inquiry" booth we couldn't get from Jodhpur to Mumbai by train for 5 days. We
then realized why our friend Amit, in Minneapolis, told us to book everything way in
advance and to FLY! We thought breaking up the trip into several stages might open up some
other options, and since we were itchin' to get south, Mike and Josh headed back to the
other building for round two. Back at window 22, "the foreigners line" they had
filled out three different sets of forms: 1 - Jodhpur to Mt Abu, 2 - Mt Abu to Mumbai, 3
(just to give it one more shot) Jodhpur to Mumbai. After 45 minutes wait, they got to the
front of the line and tried to book the Jodhpur to Mumbai
Ticket Guy: "Not possible."
Us: "What about tomorrow?"
Ticket Guy: "Fill out another form. Next!"
Us: "Wait, all the information is the same!"
Ticket Guy: "Wrong date. Next!"
Mike: "Josh, change the date on the form!"
Rapid scrambling for a pen; Josh changes the Jan. 3 to
Jan. 4 as Mike tries to pacify the angry mob in line behind them (offensive lineman
Ticket Guy (not looking at the computer): "Okay!
Us: "Crap, Jeff's passport is a half a mile
25 minutes later back at the front of the line...
Ticket Guy: "You leave tomorrow at 3:15."
We high-fived in the middle of the lobby. India is the
only place where you high-five the purchasing of a train ticket. We laughed and wondered
what was up with the ticket guy at the inquiry window who hadn't told us we could book a
ticket the next day?! Oh well, that's India!!!!!
The Hotel Chaunan was owned and run by crazy old Mr.
Chaunan, who's an eccentric artist with incredibly hairy ears. He told us we could price
our breakfast ourselves depending on how much we liked it. We liked it about 100 rupees
for the 3 of us. We think he kept his guesthouse a secret from the government so he didn't
have to pay taxes, because he asked us not to tell the Indians the address of where we
were staying. This didn't really make sense, since it was the only way we could get a
rickshaw back to the hotel.
Since we were staying an extra day, we decided to take in
the sights of Jodhpur with the Frenchman. We saw an impressive, possibly the most
impressive, of all the Rajastani forts. It looked out over Jodhpur, "the blue
city." Almost all the buildings are painted blue, which we were told deters
mosquitoes?! We also got to taste the best lassis (milk, butter, sugar, and fruit
shake-like drinks) in India. These were the thickest, sweetest, and probably the most
fattening we've tried to date, but at 25 cents apiece, we each had three!