Jhelum Express from New Delhi to Agra

It was time to execute the ticket.

11078 which was my departure number only appeared once on display board. After a long time, it didn’t appear, I sat on platform and continued to observe that display board….It’s gone!

Endless waiting on platform 4.

Me: “Sir, can you give me some information?. My train number 11078 is never appear again in that display board. Even though my train will depart on 10:15 am.”.

He: “If your train number disappears from the screen. That means your train is getting delay. “Haze storms” which routinely occur every year indeed often make many trains delay for hours.”

I went back to counter and asked about this problem. They only apologized and confirmed that train was delayed. He estimated that train will leave at 16:00….God.

To drove away endless boredom, I headed for Khan Market. Instead of being stunned, I’d better collected a tourist destination in New Delhi to share with you about it….Later, I will definitely write it.

A corner of Khan Market, New Delhi.

—-****—-

On 14:00 hours…. Ensuring every bond and lock in backpack, I immediately headed to New Delhi Railway Station to ride Jhelum Express which would soon come to pick me up.

An extraordinary curiosity to immediately mingle with Indians in an economy class train, making me be the most impatient person in the world that afternoon.

Portrait of inequality in India’s Capital.

The dull red locomotive shrill screams when approaching me, grimacing and bite the rails to precisely stop on platform 4.

The locomotive hadn’t completely stopped each wagons yet, passengers were running….crowding in front of wagons. I just smiled and was stunned by uniqueness of Indian citizens. While they crammed, I was still busy understanding the wagon numbering because there were wagon numbered 10 and 10A. Very unique person who has the idea of numbering system like that. After back and forth, I finally found my wagon….Yups, Wagon S3 seat No. 41 Low Berth (lower seat).

It was true, the complexity which I imagined from the beginning when buying a ticket occurred. The train inside was very crowded and made it feel cramped.

The allocated seat of three passengers facing each other plus one long folding stool above my head which is used as a sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, I loved it. an amazing condition.

Hello Sir, excuse me“, a young man passed in front of me holding his wife hand and sat facing me. A sinless smile makes my lips do the same thing. How not, now, in front of me has sat 4 passengers on seats which should for only three passengers….Haha.

While the train was running, I hear faint bluff which is either angry or just normally like that. A fat and whiskered conductor checked his guest tickets one by one. A passenger in opposite side of my seat was scolded, He was unable to showing his ticket, then he showed a laminated card from his wallet. And I didn’t know what was that, It was being able to effectively drove out that fat conductor….Damn.

A office worker in front left of me took out a something from his bag. Like Indian films, their culture is still upheld. He held up high a long stack of four stainless steel dinner box with curry scented. If he knew my heart’s face, he would have smiled when see it was roar laughing….Oh God, this was an original Indian. As if it was be a trigger, another passenger on my left and right was doing the same thing.

Their generosity emanated when they offered me to eat together as a family on train. Did I accept? Nup….I also brought out a local burger package with price about USD 0.75 which I purchased at station’s platform that afternoon. Let’s eat together….Ahhaaa.

A passenger at window seat became the busiest person on our journey because he had to keep closing a wooden window whose locking hooks were worn out. Every few minutes, that window would automatically open and put super cold air into wagon.

Maybe that condition was used by “chai” seller to focus on my wagon to sell his wares. “Chai“, another name for “pulled tea” which be legendary in Dhaka, be favorite in India and spreading to Malaysia. Excited, the stack of paper cups which he held was getting shorter. He would go home with a multiple profit this time.

Cuteness of a children’s toy seller made whole train passenger endlessly burst out laughing. He throwed a rubber spiderman every where as he pleased. Amazingly, the spiderman could perfectly stick….Haha. It was be an entertainment to forget many problems at that day which they have faced.

Guys….When did the last time our trains (Indonesia’s trains) still had sellers of all kinds inside it?….Hahaha….I forgot. It was long time a rule about seller restriction in our trains.

The train which stopped….brought down its passenger….took its passengers….Then drove back and kept repeating it at each station made me realize that there was never an announcement where did the train stopped?

Me: “How long will the train run to its last destination?”

He: “Jhelum Express will stop in Pune on 6 am tomorrow morning

Me: “Thanks Sir”, I bitterly smiled with worry.

Now, my enemy was one….i.e Information….the absence of data packets in my gadget further strengthened my mortal enemy that night. I had to asking questions a lot to defeat it.

Me: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

He: “At Mathura Junction Station

Me: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

He: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Me: “Oh, nice”, I was relieved…. Once he got down, I just had to count 2x stops. That was Agra Cantt.

He: “Are you from China?

Me: “No, I’m Indonesian”.

He: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Me: “Taj Mahal, Sir

He: “Oh, very happy to hear Indonesian goes to Taj Mahal

Me: “Taj Mahal….My dream to visiting it

He: “Nice”. Shaking my hand with his happiness which can’t hidden.

That was 10 minutes conversation before he got off at Mathura Junction Station. After that I would get off at next two stops namely Agra Cantt Station.

A side of Agra Cantt Station.

I finally arrived in Agra on 20:30 hours.

It was time to go to hotel….Then slept.

SCAM….Something Real in India

Hotel Staff: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!“, a short answer was spoken by beautiful staff who still looked busy in accepting traveler from various nations.

Me: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh yes, looking for the nearest dormitory from MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station is a habit which has been in me.

I started to open GoStops Delhi Hostel’s door and passed a few disadvantaged citizens. It was touched when the sun’s rays were the only thing which could help warm them who were still asleep curled up on an old foam mattress which I couldn’t know how they got it.

300 meters later I arrived at Delhi Gate Metro Station. Passing a X-ray gate every time when I entered MRT station in New Delhi made me feel safe while using train on its track.

Let’s see inside of subway station in New Delhi….This is Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station when I first time arrived in India.

Going through Delhi Metro Violet Line and then transferring to Yellow Line at Kashmere Gate Metro Station, so at third station I arrived at New Delhi Metro Station.

Arriving at final destination, I had to move between two modes of train which weren’t integrated. Leaving clean and well-maintained New Delhi Metro Station to New Delhi Railway Station which is more than just dirty. The distance between them is only around 450 meters.

Walking 6 minutes, I arrived in front of New Delhi Railway Station.

From a connecting bridge between platforms, I noticed that Indian Railways officer sprayed water on railroad track. I thought they were so disciplined to reduce dust rate in air, it turns out some time later I knew that they were cleaning railroad tracks from human waste …. # unique.

Upss….The incident arrived:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Me: “Agra.

Scammer: “Let me help you to get the ticket.”

Me: “Oh thanks. Based information from my hotel that ticket counter is on platform 1 floor 1.”

Scammer: “Oh, yes. But It’s Friday. So, the counter is closed. You can get the ticket at left side of this station.

Me: “Oh, OK.

Either “Unknow” or “Stupid“, I followed all his instructions. A handsome young man didn’t accompany my steps, so there wasn’t slightest suspicion in my brain. Amazingly, there was a person at a station gate who seemed to directing me about where ticket sales counter was located. He was obviously directing me to an office at end of road on the left.

Oh, this is a travel agent’s office, not an Indian Railways office“, I thought. I canceled to going up the next step and turned to leave their office. Even though one of them continued to chase me, I smoothly insisted by saying that I would postpone my departure to Agra until tomorrow, so that I could reduce his emotions that seemed to be rising.

Huftt….I was safe now. Second scam which happened to me after the first one which happened in Bangkok at end of 2013.

—-****—-

Relieving which felt doubled because in addition to being able to find International Tourist Bureau ticket sales office on platform 1 floor 1, I also got a bonus for protect mysely in this office from New Delhi’s cold weather that made me feel frozen.

The modest office is beautified with excellent ticket sales officer consulting services for every tourist. So you have to be patient for waiting for your queue number to be called by sales officer because one buyer could consult for about 10-15 minutes, some even more. Not a problem for me, a longer queue time would be better because I didn’t need to be cold in out of office.

Jhelum Express ticket for about USD 2.9 was already in my hand.

Let’s go to Agra….Visiting Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.

Jhelum Express dari New Delhi ke Agra

Saatnya mengeksekusi tiket.

Nomor 11078 yang merupakan nomor keberangkatanku hanya muncul sekali saja di display board. Setelahnya lama tak muncul kembali, aku terduduk di platform dan terus mengamati display board itu….Hilang sudah!

Penantian tak ada akhir di platfom 4.

Aku: “Sir, can you give me some information?. My train number 11078 is never appear again in that display board. Even though my train will depart on 10:15 am.”.

Si Tampan: “If your train number disappears from the screen. That means your train is getting delay. “Haze storms” which routinely occur every year indeed often make many trains delay for hours.”

Aku kembali menuju konter dan menanyakan tentang masalah ini. Mereka hanya meminta maaf dan membenarkan bahwa kereta delay. Dia memperkirakan kereta akan berangkat jam 16:00….Busyeettt.

Untuk mengusir kejenuhan yang tak berujung, aku bertolak menuju Khan Market. Daripada bengong lebih baik aku mengoleksi satu destinasi wisata di New Delhi untuk kubagikan bersama kalian tentangnya….Nanti ya, pasti akan kutulis.

Salah satu sudut Khan Market, New Delhi.

—-****—-

Pukul 14:00….Memastikan kembali setiap ikatan dan kuncian di backpack, aku segera menuju New Delhi Railway Station untuk menaiki Jhelum Express yang akan segera datang menjemputku.

Penasaran yang luar biasa untuk segera berbaur dengan masyarakat India dalam satu gerbong kelas ekonomi, membuatku menjadi orang paling tidak sabar di dunia sore itu.

Potret kesenjangan di Ibukota India.

Lokomotif merah kusam itu berteriak melengking mendekatiku seraya meringis menggigit rel untuk berhenti tepat di platform 4

Belum juga lokomotif itu menghentikan setiap gerbongnya dengan sempurna, para penumpang berlari….berjejal memasuki gerbong. Aku hanya tersenyum dan terpana dengan keunikan warga India. Sementara mereka berdesakan masuk, aku masih sibuk memahami penomoran gerbong karena ada gerbong bernomor 10 dan 10A. Dasar iseng nih orang yang punya ide menomori demikian. Setelah bolak-balik ke depan dan ke belakang, akhirnya aku menemukan gerbongnya….Yups, gerbong S3 kursi no 41 Low Berth (bangku bawah).

Benar adanya, keruwetan yang kubayangkan sejak awal membeli tiket terjadi. Gerbong itu sangat berjubel dan membuatnya terasa sempit.

Bangku teralokasi tiga penumpang saling berhadapan ditambah satu bangku lipat panjang diatas kepalaku yang digunakan sebagai sleeper seat (Upper Berth)….Ah, aku semakin mencintai kondisi ini. Kejadian yang menakjubkan.

Hello Sir, Excuse me”, seorang laki-laki muda melewat didepanku sambil menggandeng istrinya lalu duduk berhadapan denganku. Senyum tanpa dosanya membuat bibirku pun melakukan hal yang sama. Bagaimana tidak, di depanku sekarang telah duduk 4 penumpang dengan kursi yang hanya bertuliskan tiga nomor saja….Hahaha.

Sembari kereta berjalan, aku mendengar sayup-sayup gertakan yang entah itu marah atau memang begitu adanya. Kondektur tambun berkumis melintir itu mengecek satu persatu tiket tamunya. Satu penumpang di seberang kursiku dimarahinya habis-habisan gegara tak mampu menunjukkan tiket, si penumpang lalu menunjukkan sebuah kartu terlaminating dari dalam dompetnya. Dan entah itu apa, mampu mengusir kondektur tambun itu dengan efektif dari hadapannya….Damn.

Bapak pekerja kantoran di kiri depanku mengeluarkan sesuatu dari tasnya. Bak film-film India, adat itu masih dijunjungnya. Rantang panjang bertumpuk empat berbahan stainless beraroma kari diangkatnya tinggi-tinggi. Andai dia tahu muka hatiku, pasti dia tersenyum melihatnya terbahak….Omaigat, ini mah India yang orisinil. Seolah menjadi menjadi pemicu ledakan, penumpang lain dikiri kananku pun melakukan hal yang sama.

Kemurahan hati itu terpancar seiring dengan tutur mereka menawarkan diri untuk makan bersama sebagai satu keluarga di dalam kereta. Kuterima? Tidak….Aku juga mengeluarkan setangkup burger lokal seharga Rp. 10.000 yang terbeli di platform stasiun sore tadi. Mari kita makan bersama….

Si Bapak dipinggir jendela menjadi orang tersibuk sepanjang perjalanan karena harus terus menutup jendela kayu yang kait penguncinya sudah usang. Setiap sekian menit jandela itu akan tertarik ke atas dan memasukkan udara super dingin ke dalam gerbong.

Mungkin kondisi itulah yang dimanfaatkan oleh penjual chai untuk berfokus di gerbongku demi menghabiskan dagangannya. “Chai”, nama lain dari teh tarik yang melegenda di Dhaka, terfavorit di India dan menyebar ke Malaysia. Girang hatinya, tumpukan gelas kertas yang digenggamnya semakin memendek. Dia akan pulang dengan keuntungan berlipat kali ini.

Kelucuan penjual mainan anak-anak membuat seisi kereta tak henti-hentinya terbahak. Dia melempar spiderman karetnya kesana kemari sesuka hati. Hebatnya, si spiderman itu bisa menempel dengan sempurna….Hahaha. Hiburan untuk melupakan masalah kehidupan seharian yang sudah mereka hadapi.

Guys….Kapan terakhir kali kereta kita masih ada penjual segala macam di dalam gerbong?….Hahaha….Aku saja sudah lupa saking lamanya aturan itu diketatkan.

Kereta yang berhenti….Menurunkan….Menaikkan penumpang….Lalu melaju kembali dan terus mengulangnya di setiap stasiun baru membuatku sadar bahwa tak pernah ada pengumuman kereta berhenti di stasiun mana?.

Aku: “How long will the train run to its last destination?”

Dia: “Jhelum Express will stop in Pune on 6 am tomorrow morning

Aku: “Thanks Sir”, Aku tersenyum pahit penuh kekhawatiran.

Kini musuhku satu….Informasi, ketiadaan paket data di gawaiku semakin memperkuat musuh bebuyutanku malam itu. Aku harus banyak bertanya untuk mengalahkannya.

Aku: “Where will you stop, Sir?”

Dia: “At Mathura Junction Station

Aku: “Do you know Agra Cantt Station?

Dia: “Sure, 2 stops after my station

Aku: “Oh, nice”, Aku lega….Begitu dia turun, aku tinggal hitung 2x berhenti. Itu Agra Cantt

Dia: “Are you from China?

Aku: “No, I’m Indonesian”. Mana ada tampang China gelap kayak gue.

Dia: “What for do you go to Agra?”

Aku: “Taj Mahal, Sir

Dia: “Oh, very happy to hear Indonesian goes to Taj Mahal

Aku: “Taj Mahal….My dream to visiting it

Dia: “Nice”. Menyalamiku dengan kebahagiaan tak tersembunyikan.

Itulah percakapan 10 menit sebelum dia turun di Mathura Junction Station. Setelahnya aku akan menyusul turun di dua perhentian berikutnya yaitu Agra Cantt Station.

Salah satu sisi Agra Cantt Station.

Aku akhirnya tiba di kota Agra pada pukul 20:30.

Saatnya menuju hotel…..Makan malam tyuss bobok.

Cari tiket kereta dari New Delhi ke Agra melalui 12go Asia. Berikutnya linknya:  https://12go.asia/?z=3283832

SCAM….Sesuatu yang Nyata di India

Staff Hotel: “Go to New Delhi Railway Station platform 1 floor 1!”, jawaban singkat tertutur dari bibir si cantiq yang masih terlihat sibuk menerima para penginap dari berbagai bangsa.

Aku: “Thank you, honey Ms”.

Oh ya, mencari dormitory terdekat dari stasiun MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) memang kebiasaan yang telah bersifat di diriku.

Aku mulai membuka pintu goStops Delhi Hostel dan melintas beberapa warga yang kurang beruntung. Terenyuh ketika sinar surya satu-satunya yang bisa membantu menghangatkan mereka yang masih pulas meringkuk diatas kasur busa bekas yang entah mereka dapat dari mana.

300 meter kemudian aku tiba Delhi Gate Metro Station. Melewati X-ray gate setiap memasuki stasiun MRT di New Delhi menjadikanku merasa aman selama melaju di jalurnya.

Yuk kita lihat dalaman ttasiun subway di New Delhi…Ini adalah Indira Gandhi Airport Metro Station saat pertama kali aku tiba di India

Menyusuri Delhi Metro Violet Line dan kemudian bertransfer ke Yellow Line di Kashmere Gate Metro Station, maka di stasiun ketiga aku tiba di New Delhi Metro Station.

Tiba di tujuan akhir, aku harus berpindah antar dua moda kereta yang tak terintegrasi. Meninggalkan New Delhi Metro Station yang begitu bersih terawat menuju New Delhi Railway Station yang lebih dari sekedar kotor. Jaraknya antar keduanya hanya sekitar 450 meter.

Berjalan 6 menit, aku tiba di depan New Delhi Railway Station

Dari tangga penghubung antar platform, kuperhatikan petugas Indian Railways itu menyemprotkan air di atas jalur kereta. Kupikir mereka begitu disiplin mengurangi laju debu di udara, ternyata beberapa waktu kemudian aku tahu bahwa mereka sedang membersihkan jalur kereta api dari kotoran manusia….#unique.

Upss….Kejadian itu tiba:

Scammer: “Where will you go, Sir?”

Aku: “Agra.

Scammer: “Let me help you to get the ticket.”

Aku: “Oh thanks. Based information from my hotel that ticket counter is on platform 1 floor 1.”

Scammer: “Oh, yes. But It’s Friday. So, the counter is closed. You can get the ticket at left side of this station.

Aku: “Oh, OK.

Entah “Bego” atau “Dungu”, aku mengikuti semua petunjuknya. Pemuda tampan itu tak menyertai langkahku, sehingga tak ada kecurigaan sedikitpun di otakku. Hebatnya, ada seorang di gerbang stasiun yang kesannya menunjukkan dimana lokasi konter penjualan tiket tersebut. Jelas sekali mengarahkanku ke sebuah kantor di ujung jalan sebelah kiri.

Oh, ini kantor agen travel, bukan kantor Indian Railways”, batinku. Aku batal menaiki anak tangga berikutnya dan berbalik meninggalkan kantor mereka. Walau salah satu dari mereka terus mengejarku, aku bersikukuh halus dengan menyampaikan akan menunda keberangkatan ke Agra hingga esok hari saja, sehingga mampu meredam emosinya yang terlihat mulai meninggi.

Huftt….Selamett. Scam kedua yang menimpaku setelah terakhir menghampiriku di Bangkok di akhir 2013.

—-****—-

Kelegaan yang terasa berlipat karena selain mampu menemukan kantor penjualan tiket milik International Tourist Bureau di platform 1 lantai 1, Aku juga mendapat bonus berlindung dalam kantor itu dari dinginnya terpaan udara New Delhi yang membuatku serasa beku.

Kantor yang sederhana itu dipercantik dengan layanan konsultasi petugas penjualan tiket kepada setiap turis dengan sangat baiknya. Jadi kamu harus bersabar menunggu nomor antrianmu dipanggil petugas karena satu pembeli bisa berkonsultasi 10-15 menit, beberapa bahkan lebih. Tak menjadi masalah bagiku, semakin lama semakin baik karena aku tak perlu kedinginan diluar sana.

Tiket Jhelum Express seharga Rp. 40.000 sudah di tangan.

Yuk ke Agra….Bersih-bersih Taj Mahal….Yuhuuu.