Incredible India – why 50 women laughed at the expense of my husband
“Incredible India“—so goes the Asian subcontinent’s slogan, and it’s certainly well-chosen from the perspective of a tourist. Even when initially passing through customs, already we were saying it. “That’s incredible India!“ Our vacation rendered us speechless many times, but still we would whisper: “India, incredible India.“
Occasionally we said it when experiencing the many forms of transportation throughout the nation. Upon arriving in Mumbai, our taxi driver stowed our luggage on the car roof, without bothering to tie it down. How would that work? We trusted him, still deathly afraid of losing our bags as the car honked and raced its way down potholed roads.
On that drive, we spotted the rickshaws out the window and quickly resolved to try one as soon as possible.
We did, and it wasn’t all we expected. Wind in our hair and dust in our lungs, we had to promise our 3- and 5-year-old daughters to go by train next time. We had some trouble explaining to such young children that trains in India are entirely different from trains in Europe—no AC, no private doors, no restaurants complete with complimentary food.
The trip to the station itself was already an adventure. As we tried to wait through the traffic, vendors relentlessly tried to sell us fruits, cigarettes, fabrics and whatever else they had in stock. We were something of a novelty due to our skin color, as Vile Parle, a Mumbai suburb, doesn’t see many tourists and thus doesn’t have translated signs. After waiting patiently through a near-endless line, we paid less than 2€ for four adults and two kids for the trip to the Mumbai city center.
We were lucky to find a friendly man who gave us directions to the correct platform, since the schedule seemed to be changing every minute or more. We rejoiced when the train finally arrived. We hopped on, undettered by the open doors and barred windows, and continued our surprisingly complex journey. We sat in a wagon surrounded by pleasant Indian women. We chatted amongst ourselves, ignoring the other people who all seemed to be talking about us, figuring it was because we were the only tourists in the whole station. I’m still not sure why tourists seem to avoid the train. Let me know in the comments if you can!
Eventually, one brave woman told us what the hubbub was really about. “Sorry,“ she said, “as you’re not from India you might not know, but this is the women’s wagon!“
The fifty-some women had quite a laugh at the expense of my husband and grandfather, but they apologized and promised to get off at the next stop. They did so and stepped into the next wagon back, but the women laughed once more. What was wrong this time? This was the wagon for the disabled, they informed me, where those without disability would quickly get a heavy fine.
So again we said it, “Incredible India!“
Haha oh dear! Travelling can often me a complicated experience can’t it?! Did you’re husband ever find the men’s carriage?!
Emily recently posted…Deal of the Week: Vietnam Round Trip
India is indeed incredible. In so many ways. Altough the first couple of times I had a real cultural shock. After you get used to the culture and the dirt it is colorful and amazing.
Next time I want to try taking the train too. Sounds like an interesting and funny experience.
Christina recently posted…Review: Collapsible Water Bottle from PowerPere
The women’s wagon picture is gorgeous – all those beautiful colors! I love that they were all giggling at your husband – and it’s so amazing that you guys are traveling with your kids!
Madaline recently posted…Bracciano Village Life : Cashmere. Wool. And Vince.
That was really funny! We enjoyed our stay in India as well! It has its ups and downs but, yeah, we did. Great post!
Megsy recently posted…019: How to stay in a palace for $350 a month & We visit Bologna, Italy (Podcast)
Ahh, I love this! Transport is such a great way to get involved with the local people and their way of lives. I looks like you really experienced that in India. It’s probably one of the countries I am most looking forward to visiting over the next few years on our RTW, right near the top of the list! It does look incredible!
Roaming Renegades recently posted…A guide to charming and contrasting BRATISLAVA, Slovakia.
What an adorable photo of your daughter. Nothing like public transportation to get a feel for the local culture. Especially in India!
alison abbott recently posted…Stonyfield Introduces Greek Chia and OP
That’s hilarious! For some reason, I can feel how the locals felt when they saw your husband. In my country too, actually, in the train, the first section is for women only and the rest is for men and women. There have been times that foreigner men get into our section but we just laugh and let them be since they don’t know the rule (and eventually they will realize how odd it is that they’re the only man in the carriage).
In a way this kind of segregation works well, but it’s also a sad thing that we have to do this just to ensure the safety of women.
Aileen recently posted…The Dominican: An Unforgettable Boutique Hotel in the Heart of Brussels
Local transportation can be such an adventure!
Brianna recently posted…A few reasons why I fell in love with New Orleans
Haha! The joys of different cultures I guess 🙂 I had a similar incident. I didn’t know that shaking hands was considered as something sexual, so there I was shaking away wondering why more and more men insisted on shaking my hand 🙂
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Uhhh, so funny! I can imagine 😀
Hilarious! Good on you for taking the train there! I was a volunteer coordinator for newly arrived volunteers to Mumbai and day one of my training was to show them the train! it’s a complex system for sure! I wrote an entire post on how to ride the train there. Did you go on the first class carriage or did you end up on the 2nd class car?
Love seeing India through the eyes of someone new to the country!
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How funny! We all have these little mishaps when we travel and it’s run to relate to one another on such a humbling level. Good for you guys for making the attempt and learning from it. 🙂
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And my comment just decided to upload itself… Here is the rest of it 🙂 Just taking a train seems like a marathon of patience and understanding. We cannot wait to go to India but it definitely seems like one of those destinations where you just have to learn to breathe and be patient because after all it is Incredible India!
Ashley and Alex recently posted…Our Top 10 Tips for Snorkeling Silfra
Incredible story. Trveling within India sounds fascinating!
chrysoula recently posted…Road Trip: Phaistos, Matala, Agios Pavlos, Triopetra in Crete
Oh how embarassing! But how would you have known?!
Tami recently posted…As the Sun Sets on California
India is an incredible place without a doubt. You guys are adventurous to travel the trains with little ones, good for you. India travel is always an adventure.
Tim recently posted…Zambezi Moonlight
Actually the trains in India are generally much better than the buses — at least so long as you get a first class ticket. I did so and the seats were spacious and comfortable and they did serve a complimentary dinner on my journey from Agra (I think it was) to Jaipur.
Harvey (H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke) recently posted…Rushmore and Crazy Horse: the majestic monuments of South Dakota’s Black Hills
Sounds great. As we didn’t drive long distance we wanted to travel like locals.
Actually we tried to get tickets from Mumbai to Goa but they were sold out for first class more than 5 weeks before. So we flew.
At least this little blunder makes for a good story! haha! I went to a university in India and I ended up the trains everywhere! I too hardly ever saw other tourists on the train. Maybe it’s because they can be so crowded and intimidating, but I found them to be a cheap and easy way to get anywhere in the country! Hopefully your hubby got to a good spot on the train eventually! 🙂
We love to travel by train. It was very easy in Thailand but India was a bit tougher. Though it was still better than getting stuck in traffic.
Haha, that’s so sweet. To be honest, how great that they do provide specific carriages for women and disabled people, given that trains in India can become so so crowded which often breeds, well, unsavoury actions by some people towards others and a lack of respect. Look forward to reading more about this trip!
I am happy to be a woman, because all the “mixed”/men-waggons were so crowded and dangerous.
Haha oh dear, your husband and grandfather were not doing well for themselves. It makes a good story though which is half of what travelling is about.
True. We still tell this story and everybody’s amused.
I’m sorry to hear about your unfortunate event and I hope everything went OK. Sounds like you took it all in good humor, which is all you can do when you’re traveling and not aware of certain customs! It’s always good to find a post that tells you the reality of traveling and makes light of a situation. Happy travels!
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Its very complex to travel through local transport in india. By train its horrible! and its adventurous to. Surrounding people always staring at you and talking about you even they laugh at you. But after passing some time with them then we realize reality of all things. And start enjoying ! Picture of transporting trough Rixa is amazing. Hi to Her 🙂 By the way india is great place to visit. Thanks for your sharing experience to visit india.