I now have two lovely overnight trips in reserved cars in India under my belt. I feel like a pro. Sort of. Some important facts:
A. The upper bunk may be very cold. (Air conditioning is good for sleeping, unless you did not bring layers).
B. Men come by selling food and chai and bottled water.
- It is like the concessions at baseball games.
- However, they may not speak English.
- And you may not understand how much the water costs.
- Probably you should not eat the food.
C. Light coming through the curtain may be disturbing.
- It flutters and flashes as people walk by and when you are American you might feel vulnerable to having no idea what is going on at any time because Hindi is undecipherable.
- Use the Velcro to firmly close the curtains.
D. The porters should be tipped 150 or 200 rupees.
- This may be an overestimation. (I may be susceptible to hustling).
E. Beggars should not be tipped.
- Because apparently it’s an industry.
- Which obviously you shouldn’t support, even though it’s hard, because it’s exploitation; abuse of the weakest at its worst.
- Although you may want to give all your money to every bone thin child, every man or woman without fingers or limbs, every baby covered in flies.
F. The Western style toilets will be at one end of the coach.
- Western style means not Indian style means toilet instead of hole over which you squat.
- Indian style is not so bad if you are a stable squatter without too many layers.
- All the public bathrooms smell anyway.
- Carry toilet paper with you.
G. Hand sanitizer is a good idea.
H. Don’t talk to loud.
- Don’t freak out when you think it’s your stop – remain calm and ask your neighbor. (Many Indians speak English and someone will help you).
- Smile a lot.
- Pack light.
An unrelated comment of which I was reminded when I wrote “someone will help you:”
Dharamsala (and possibly the whole of India) may be home to the nicest people on earth. I have never been smiled at by so many people of different ages and types as in this place. It is utterly refreshing. Monks are wonderful, of course, but their beautiful souls appear to be contagious. Gosh I love reciprocal smilers.