AJMER, India // After a 5 hour train ride from New Delhi to Jaipur, and another 8 hour ride from Jaipur to Udaipur, we realized how much of an experience the Indian railways really are. The train is not easy to navigate, nor is it for the faint of heart either. Upon approaching a train station in India you see people everywhere. When we say everywhere this doesn't mean standing in long lines. This means laying, sleeping, cooking food, camping, and maybe even 'living?' there.
Once you pass all of these people you need to find the tourist office to book a ticket to your next destination. Most trains to major cities keep a set of foreign tourist tickets aside for last minute travleers with foreign passports. We filled out some paper work and got an assigned seat in an air conditioned class titled "CC". The second class with non air conditioners looked like the ones from Slumdog millionaire, where people are literally sitting on long benches with limbs out these jail cell like windows.
Finding the train and the car you are supposed to be in is an adventure too, and it wasn't until we found the guy in a suit carrying a clip board do we realize that he is the conductor possessing all the information. He had our names on his sheet, and confirms we are in the correct seats and car number. Our minds are now at ease as we can relax for the next few hours.
Sitting still in your seat as the incredible scenery and people start passing you by turned out to not be the best option. Once the train starts you can get up and stand in the open doorways and look out into the countryside with the wind blowing in your face. We stood for more than half the ride viewing the scenes of a village cricket match, farmers picking food, hundred of goats being herded, women walking together in multi colored saris, cows everywhere, Indian sadhus in orange, piles of garbage, ladies sweeping the front of their homes, as well as birdwatching of course (we saw a wild peacock). As we traveled through Rajasthan we passed amazing little villages where people live these simple lives and stare at you as the train passes. As we approached Udaipur the sun was setting and about 2 hours outside the city we passed villages such as Nasirabad, Bhilwara, and Kapasan. We've never heard of these places, but we stood in the middle of the train cars looking out the open doorways and never felt so fascinated before.
Being in India now for a little over a week and we are both so surprised at how different this country has been from the rest of Asia. Experiencing this part of the world made us realize the true beauty of India, and confirms why we came to this fascinating country in the first place.