We stumble off the train at 4.45am in Jaipur, this is a bit more like the real India, bodies everywhere sleeping on newspaper, it stinks - not surprisingly as the toilet waste drops straight onto the tracks and the heat if the day is starting to kick in.
I say my goodbyes to my friends who are off to 'freshen up' according to their itinerary and then ride an elephant to the Amber Fort. I meanwhile am escorted to my train which is a double decker express train leaving for Delhi at 6am.
Out of the window I can see hay stacks like wigwams, women carrying a myriad of things on their heads often followed by the men, a camel in a cart, rubbish everywhere.....
A sign in the carriage says the average speed of the super express train is 80km per hour, hardly super fast.... We eventually arrive in Delhi at 11.15am, 45 minutes late.
I am struggling to get my two suitcase and extra bags down the stairs of the train, when up pops Jose ready to meet me - as if my magic. He is a welcome sight as we have quite a distance to go before we meet the taxi driver. There is no path or road, so it is quite impossible to pull along the suitcases.
It is at this point I realise the luxury of our previous travel. The air con blows pure chemicals at me - although maybe it is just the Delhi's fresh air....this combines with the car's deep vibrations and the drivers late application of his brakes.... into a toxic cocktail and I crawl from the taxi into the relative calm oasis of Delhi's Terminal Three - and find a quiet place to take my anti-sickness pills.
I could get addicted to these, they work a treat and within 5 mins I'm ok to proceed. I love my gastro kit....
At immigration I know now the routine, every piece of hand luggage needs a tag which is stamped, into the cubicle with a curtain for a private frisk, and the boarding card is double stamped.
I whizz into Marks & Spencer's (I told you Delhi Airport is great!) as my son has sent a text "can you get me a tie for the dance on Saturday?" I chose a trendy slim black and grey patterned tie, but then have second thoughts at check-out 695Rs, I'm not paying that, he's not looking for a wife....I leave the tie.
The plane is packed with kids, I look at everyone and wonder whether any of them are at my son's school? I am sandwiched in the middle (obviously Jet Airways, don't know my seating preference for a window seat?) They will soon as I've just been invited to join their frequent flyer programs especially to tell them....!
The guy to my left is chanting and flicking his wrists around in a strange manner, OMG just my luck to be next to Muhummad... I'm just deciding whether to go with the "excuse me I think I'm going to vomit, could I have another seat" routine, when the kid in front at 12 years old has to move because he's in an emergency row - I generously offer to swap seats and we're airborne before I've a chance to mention the possible security breach in row 23.
It's just over an hour to Dehradun, we even get given a sandwich and a water en-route. I eat as all I've had today is plain biscuits, left over toast from the desert and a banana. As we land I can see Security Guards with guns along the runway, a new airport terminal welcomes us as we walk across the Tarmac.
It's the only welcome I get as there is no-one there to meet me at the airport, very quickly everyone disperses. I notice an elegant lady in a long black skirt talking English on a phone and ask her if the local taxis are ok to take. She offers me a ride in her taxi and we have a fascinating conversation on the hour long ride into Dehradun. She has just moved to the area to teach English to the street kids, after years in Delhi doing the same. I decided the and then that our family should look at sponsoring one of these street kids. She had just had the first of her street kids make it all the way through to college in Delhi.
It is a two hour ride from the airport to Mussoorie, as we wind our way up through the foothills of the Himalayas I wonder how easy it would be to live here and at the same time how impossibly difficult to leave, it is extraordinarily beautiful.
We head up into the town of Mussoorie, yep I reckon this could grow on you...
I dump my bags in the Fortune Grace Hotel, have a hissy fit at the standard of the room they initially provide, change rooms and head out in search of a tie. I find a gentlemen's outfitters who produce the biggest kipper looking ties you have ever seen, the cream cardboard wrappers all covered in a thick layer of grime...."395 Rs, perfect, can I have one without dust?"
26 hours travel to get here, arrived safely and with tie.... Mission accomplished.
Little Wandering Wren
Location:Jaipur to Mussoorie