Ok, so you buy a ticket (Calcutta to Agra). Everything is going swimmingly. Then you eat one dodgey meal and montezuma's revenge errupts all over the place and you have to cancel your tickets. No problem. Lose the cost of one ticket but hey, least you have a bed and a sanitary toilet in your hotel to deal with all of the violent explosions coming from your body, not whatever the train has to offer. And lets face it, the facilities on any public train in any country are less than desirable for dealing with the volume of liquid we were talking about.
A doctor's visit, some drugs and a day later, tickets were purchased again. The lovely chaps at our hotel- Ashreen Guesthouse, kept our luggage for the day, and wished us well. Train station arrival no biggy. Our tickets had "confirmed" handwritten on them, so we didn't bother checking with the ticket office or any other officials. Instead opting for the help of a "friendly" local. He seemed very officious. Directing us about and even showing us our beds (we were in the sleeper car). He was a quaint older gent, very polite and very helpful.
Can you guess where this is heading?
We deposited our packs etc, under our berths and set ourselves up to endure the twenty some odd hour journey. We got lots of stares, but not a lot of conversation. That was until the conductor came round. He asked for our ticket and I confidently produced it. Confidence quickly shattered when it was handed back and our neighbour pointed out that it was a cancelled ticket. Where the bloody hell was our ticket? A frantic search ensued (frantic being relative of course, I mean when have I ever done anything frantically) whilst the conductor went about his duties further down the train. Well no ticket was forthcoming. We had lost it. How, neither of us knew, but we had a sneaking suspicion that the polite helpful older chap had palmed the real ticket and left us with the dud. So we had to pay the conductor the price of two new tickets plus the penalty, which strangely enough was about INR100 (USD2.00 approx) more than the price of two tickets alone from the travel agent. Well you pay for the convenience don't you?
So by the end of this little kafuffle, we could have been in the deluxe AC sleeper class for all the money that we shelled out. Blast it!
Just goes to show, you are green, no matter how long you've been on the road.