100 Days in India Project

Railway Station Rooftops in India

43/ 100 Making a Phone Call

If you have been reading along you might remember that in story 39 I mentioned in my story about losing a folder containing some of our documents and some money whilst fighting with a cow and boarding the Marudhar Express train in Varanasi. Now that we were well rested after our first night in Agra we decided to see what we could do about it. Like everything else in India, it wasn’t very straightforward.

This was the first day we met our ever smiling Tuk Tuk driver Gaffar, whose house we later visited. He drove us through the early morning traffic back to Agra Fort railway station where had disembarked the train the night before, all the while hoping not to bump into yesterday’s Tuk Tuk driver that we had promised to use just so that we could get him to stop nagging us (we saw him, but he didn’t spot us luckily).

Compared to Varanasi, a station designed mostly for Indian religious tourists, Agra Fort station was actually quite nice. I assume this is at least in part due to the fact that a huge number of wealthier foreign tourists visit Agra for the Taj Mahal and the local government want to make a good first impression. We were definitely impressed, at first.

We asked a few official-looking people where the station master’s office was, but they had no idea so we followed some pretty chaotic signage, walking up and down, and sometimes over the top, of the platforms.  Some time later we ended up at a very imposing office door. We knocked and waited outside on a deserted part of the station, afraid to knock a second time for fear of being overly annoying.

Eventually the door opened and a junior member of staff invited us inside. We found ourselves in an unnecessarily large room with little more than a few filing cabinets scattered around the outside walls, and an enormous leather-topped desk in the centre. Sat behind the desk was a very officious looking man in uniform wearing a seriously grumpy face, and a very large moustache of course.

We told him that we had lost something important in Varanasi Station and hoped that he could telephone the manager of the other station to ask whether they had found our folder. I knew it was a long shot, I explained, but I wanted to try something. He sat there completely silently for some time, behind an array of no fewer than six telephones arranged in a neat line along the front of his desk. Eventually he had processed our question and passed judgement. No, he wasn’t able to phone them because he didn’t have the means to do so. I gestured towards his telephones and he barked a second No. His assistant opened the door again and gestured for us to leave.

As we hastily exited the room, however, his assistant suggested that we file a report with the Transport Police which is another story in itself.