How to Take a Train to Chennai

Instructions on How to Get from Hyderabad to Auroville for a Tango Workshop:

First, attempt to book your tickets 2 weeks in advance. You want to book TRAIN tickets, (even though your final destination is Pondicherry and the train doesn’t go there so you’ll have to take a bus from Chennai, you still want the train not the bus because the bus is 4 times as expensive and is BUMPY.). So try and book your tickets in advance.

But they’ll be full so get on a waitlist. (also, you’re credit card probably won’t work online in India, and you’ll have to make some strange RCTC account anyways which is a hassle so just have an Indian do it…). It doesn’t look like you’re moving up in the waitlist so have your Indian friend book you a tadkal ticket. That means that you go online at 10am the day before you leave to try and get a one of the few tickets that they open up for every train at 10 am the day before it leaves. The server will be SWAMPED and the site may or may not even work. Pray to Ganesh.

After an hour you get a tadkal ticket! Then you find out the event you were going to Chennai for was cancelled and moved to two weeks from now. And you can’t cancel your ticket because you can’t cancel tadkal tickets… Stay in Hyderabad.

Then try and book your ticket for the event in two weeks! But wait a few days, to be sure there’ll be a giant waitlist. Because it’s a holiday the weekend you are trying to go, there are 626 people on the waitlist, your Indian friend says he’s never even seen so many people on a waitlist in his life. It’s hopeless to even try. So instead ask another Indian, a guy going from HYD to Puducherry for the event too, to try and book you a ticket when he gets his. He somehow miraculously (Ganesh?) manages to get two tadkal tickets for a train that leaves from Warangal to Chennai. Warangal is 3 hours by bus from HYD.

So… pack your bags.

Take a shared auto from campus to LIngampally railway station (10 minutes away), the take the train to the Secundrabad train station (an hour away). Meet this guy there and take a bus part way across the city to where a bus will take you to Warangal. Only… because of the festival buses have been moved around and they kindly are giving out leaflets in Telegu saying the buses to Warangal are leaving from a different part of the city! Well you’re running out of time so take a rickshaw 15 minutes to the new place. Run to the bus!

On the bus, this Indian guy basically asks you to be his girlfriend, even though you JUST MET HIM in person and only met him a few weeks ago on the Tango group on Facebook and have only talked to arrange the tickets. So tell him all about your boyfriend here in HYD that you’re gonna move in with back in the US. This guy tells you that all his female friends who are married or have boyfriends are like his sisters, and its ok for him to hold hands with his sisters so he tries to hold your hand. Uh… NO!??!? What about linking arms? NO NO LINKING ARMS EITHER. Spend the rest of the trip extremely uncomfortable trying not to be too friendly…

After 3 hours arrive in Warangal. Have an awkward dinner. Wait for the train which is almost 3 hours late. Get on the train. Go to sleep. 9 hours later arrive in Chennai. Get on a bus. The bus will take you to where you can catch another bus to Pondicherry! On the bus there are about half of the Indian’s of southern India so it’s a bit crowded and luckily mr.handholder gets swept to the back. Have a lovely chat with another exchange student from Tunisia! A very nice guy, doesn’t try to hold your hand…

3 hours later arrive in Pondicherry! The event you are going to is actually in Auroville, so since your bus is on the ECR highway you want to get off at the Auroville main road crossing. It would be nice to get off the bus without telling mr.handholder (who is staying in Puducherry at a friends house, not in your hostel thank god), but he’s been going on about how if something happens to you he’s going to be responsible since you’re a pathetic helpless white GIRL… so you should just notify him I guess, so shout round the bus till someone pulls him up from nowhere and tell him “Bye! Getting off here!”. SOMEHOW he manages to extract himself from the bus after you. Good god.

Wait for the taxi that the nice guy who’s running the workshop has called for you and become increasingly frustrated with mr.handholder who really thinks you are incapable of doing anything and if left alone will become lost, kidnapped, robbed and rapped, probably all at once.

But!! There’s the taxi driver!! Escape in the taxi to Auroville… only 458 miles and 24 hours from HYD you’re finally in the peace and quiet of your Auroville hostel…

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