My very dearest friends, that I travelled to Cyprus with earlier this year, laughed at me when I speak to non-English speaking people. According to them, while speaking to Cypriots, I would put on a pseudo Russian accent and then speak like a social delinquent. Turns out in India, I would catch myself doing the same thing.
This realisation came during one of the funniest train rides I have had thus far in India. I was leaving Varanasi, my last stop during my India tour, and was heading to Nepal. Feeling all big-girl-panty traveller, it never occurred to me that it ain’t over until its over.
I had bought a first class sleeper ticket, because my choice was simply sleeper or a first class sleeper. The only difference between the 2 is that the first class sleeper meant 2 bunks in a closable compartment. Being a solo lady traveller I had decided to go the safer route. I guess it was also because the travel agent had filled me with the fear of god when it comes to men on this train.
My run in with Indian men has been 2 fold: on the one hand – I’ve made incredible new friends and on the other – some rural Indian men have scared me out of my wits. But the agent assured me that I would just need to contact the conductor when I boarded the train and he would pair me up with a female companion (it being illegal to place a strange man with a woman onboard a train). The only problem was that the train was PACKED, with me being not only the only foreigner on the train, but the ONLY female in first class.
To say that I was nervous and afraid of the man in my compartment is an understatement. I am not trying to scare you about solo traveling in India, and looking back I have had a very issue-free trip. Luckily for me, the conductor was a fantastic Indian man who checked in on me multiple times during the night (with an armored guard at one point).
The train ride was to Gorakhpur, and from there the Nepal boarder was a 3 hour bus ride. I jumped onto a local bus, had my backpack thrown to the roof (along with chickens, goats and other people’s luggage) and set off on a very bumpy, dusty road to my exit to India.
I didn’t mind being stared at. I guess I had become used to it… But it was time to continue with the adventure… And with mixed feelings – I said good bye to India.
Note to other travelers crossing the boarder by land – the visa fee is in US Dollars and you need a passport photo. Other than that – it was easy sailing!