In the area where I live, Holi is celebrated a day later than in the plains, so it was actually on the 9th. This was a bit awkward because I didn’t know this and had chosen this day to go down to the plains, and Holi is not a good day to travel. I was lucky to get a driver at all, but I actually got the best one around. Most of the hill drivers use Holi as an excuse to get drunk, but Bhupal is not a drinker at all. He doesn’t much like Holi, it seems. And with good reason, it happens. As we were driving, some people threw buckets of colored water on the car from balconies—and it won’t come off. So now his white car is streaked with pink. He’s not happy.
I was a bit concerned when I realized that I’d be traveling on Holi—quite a few drunk drivers on the road and all that. However, the trip turned out to be not so bad. We left a couple of hours early because Bhupal was worried about the roads being closed, but that didn’t happen. The waiting room at the train station had some comfortable couches, so I stretched out on one and took a much needed nap. I’d been up since 4AM. All the restaurants were closed, though, so I just had a couple of handfuls of grapes that were well on their way to raisinhood, along with some moong dal snacks for lunch.
Once I got on the train, I managed to get a compartment to myself—in spite of the TTE’s efforts to move me. It was a bit strange, actually. I had checked the chart and there were four empty compartments and a total of 15 empty berths in the coach I was in. So why was he trying to convince me that I’d be disturbed when other people came? It was first a/c, so there would typically not be many people just coming. And very few people wanted to travel on Holi, anyway. However, I noticed that the two compartments next to mine filled up. So either people were getting upgraded or else the TTE was getting lots of baksheesh, if not both.
Then I got picked up at the station by a driver who actually comes right on to the train to meet me and even takes the luggage for me. Drivers usually won’t do that, but this guy is a gem. He’s a bit expensive, but it was really worth it, especially since I got in pretty late in the evening. After a 16 hour journey, I sure didn’t feel like hassling with the inevitable aggressive coolies and taxiwalas.