Business Class to Sleeper Class
How many days does it take to break a New Year resolution? For me, it was just 3 days this year. My resolution for this year was to cut down on my travel! This might sound strange to you but I promise it won’t be after you hear my side of the story. Most of my weekends in the past year were lost due to me travelling up and down different places to catch up on various commitments and the weekdays were spent cribbing about these tiring journeys. A quick trip over a weekend typically includes plenty of not-so-fun activities packed into 24 hrs while sacrificing my precious sleep and leisure time. It did set me back big time on my reading, sleeping, movies and blogging. I hope that my resolution won’t sound so strange now after this lengthy and over-detailed explanation. As I was basking in the glory of my New Year resolution, January 4th came strutting my way and kaput, there went my resolution through the window!
One of my office friends came up with the idea of visiting Rajasthan (a state on the Western part of India and bordering Pakistan) for the Jaisalmer Desert Festival from the 8th to 10th February. Another friend too picked up on this and it was two in the wagon. Now it was their turn to convince me to join the trip. As I was on a miser-spree (except on “basic” stuff like food ,books and movies) post my Serengeti vacation, I needed a bit of convincing. After hearing the to and fro flight ticket prices (7000 INR) and with a little nudging from my hubby who is always on the lookout for opportunities to pack up his wife from home so that he can work/ study in peace, I agreed for the trip. I was a newbie to Rajasthan and my brain was perpetually confused with all the city names – Jaipur, very different from Jodhpur and not the same as Jaisalmer- all starting with J. My friends took up the responsibility of booking the tickets. One of them had visited Rajasthan previously and the other friend has her family origins from Rajasthan – what more do you need?!
Now, the booking frenzy started. Multiple permutations and combinations of the flight and train routes to get the cheapest fares irritated Google so much that the fares shot up for all the flights we were checking. I know what you are thinking and the answer is Yes – we have heard of incognito mode, but memory doesn’t serve well when it is most needed! The inflated flights and trains were booked along with a cheap tour package for Jaisalmer which was inclusive of food and accommodation. As luck would have had it, we realised that our trip which originated from the Jaisalmer desert festival has totally deserted the festival. The tour package did not involve any visit to the desert festival and so this blog will not cover any information on the desert festival. My hopes of drooling over middle aged Indian men tying their turbans and judging their moustache lengths lay shattered!
The tentative plan for our trip was as follows :
8th Feb – Fly from Bangalore to Ahmedabad in Gujarat (I hate you Google for your feedback logic and increased air fare) and then catch an overnight train from there to Jodhpur.
9th Feb – Roam the streets of Jodhpur and catch the next overnight train to Jaisalmer.
10th Feb – Roam Jaisalmer till 2pm when the desert safari package starts.
11th Feb – Desert safari and hop on the night train to Jodhpur.
12th Feb – Catch the afternoon flight from Jodhpur to Bangalore with a transit in Delhi.
As the trip date got closer, I started getting cold feet. Luckily none of the “refundable” tickets were practically refundable and so the plan remained intact with no changes.
Lo and behold, it was the time for the trip! The three of us girls happily packed our bags with a mix of summer and winter clothes, shoes, sandals and what not and made our way to the Bangalore airport. We were flying with Go-Air and while waiting in queue to get our boarding passes and chattering all the way, my friend expressed her desire to fly in the business class at least once. Who doesn’t have a wish to fly in business or first class for an international trip, nestled away cosily from the crammed economy class seats? While collecting our boarding passes, we requested the airline staff for adjacent seats for us. Though he initially refused, seeing us chatter non-stop at the counter itself, he decided to spare our fellow passengers and gave us adjacent seats and that too in the business class!
The name business class is actually a misnomer in the domestic airlines as they were merely economy seats with a little extra leg-room. But, who am I to complain and so we travelled business class. The flight had a delayed take off and so, we reached Ahmedabad airport an hour late. After collecting our bags, we took an auto-rickshaw to a nearby affordable restaurant (Hotel Honest) for our dinner. As with every other city, tourists are over-charged even for short rides like this and since it was already late in the night in an unfamiliar place, we ended up paying the driver money disapprovingly. The hotel was neat with good service and excellent food thankfully.
We then took an auto to the railway station and as the train was scheduled to arrive only past midnight, we sat down at the platform bracing ourselves for the long wait. Despite the three of us spending nearly half the day together in office, we continued with our non-stop chatter for the next couple of hours till the train arrived. When we boarded, we saw that our berths had already been occupied by sleeping folks who did not realise that they were supposed to de-board at Ahmedabad. Thanks to one of the co-passengers who had boarded along with us, these sleepy guys were woken up and asked to vacate the seats as they were reserved for us from Ahmedabad onward. The situation of the sleeper class compartments, especially the restrooms, was deplorable. We had to wait till we reached Jodhpur to even use a proper restroom. As we had our seats at the first coupe, we could hardly catch even a single wink as there were many people without assigned berths who had boarded the train and were crowding the entrance of the coupe. From business class to sleeper class – it was a day in which we experienced both the extremes!
To be continued…