After a very short rest at the WaterAid India offices in Delhi it was time for breakfast, a selection of fried flat breads, potato curry and toast... A bit odd but I guess this is something to get used to over the next week.
Today we are heading to Gwalior by sleeper train, this going to be an interesting experience as it is something I have always wanted to do.
We left the offices to find fireworks exploding in the sky, large drums being beaten by colourfully dressed men, brass bands and lots of chanting people. What was going on? Apparently a politician had been elected as the local leader of his party, now if this was the UK things would be slightly different, could you imagine such a celebration in London?
After the fun and splendour of the street display it was time to jump on a small bus to head to the New Delhi station.... What an experience, there were large cows dressed to impress with painted horns, pulling large heavily loaded carts through the streets. There were endless open urinals and I was also witness to a guy showing full frontal as he urinated in the street.
The bus pulled into a car park and we were told to disembark, to walk over to the station, it was grey and drizzly at the time but the place felt vibrant, there were people everywhere, the streets were full of tuk tuks, taxi's, vans, cars etc... There was even the odd dog wandering around. We waded through mud, deep rubbish and puddles, whilst weaving in and out of the moving vehicles, I have never seen anything like this, it was totally mad.
After safely getting inside the station it was another first, massive amounts of people, they had bags on there head, children in wraps around their bodies, arms full of boxes and everyone pushing, shoving and squeezing their way through every gap in the crowd they could. We made our way through security (very rusty and just about hanging together metal detector), before heading for platform 3. We rushed down the platform alongside a very dirty, dark and long train. We were then advised of our seats and got on... To say this train made the worst UK train I had ever been on, look like the Orient Express would be an understatement, seriously, I wasn't expecting much but this train was filthy, the toilets smelt raw, the hole at the bottom of the toilet dropped straight out onto the track and the filth clang to the walls... When you need to go, you need to go so I had to endure the toilet from hell. As I write this I feel a little ashamed as this is normal for some and I am making such a harsh judgement.
As for the sleeper part, the carriage was full of double decked, open planned metal with plastic coated foam beds, dirty curtains, filthy walls, yellow windows from the build up of grim and black sooty ceilings. We were provided with a pillow, sheet and blanket, i could not bring myself to use them.
Whilst I am explaining the grim side of this experience I must also state that I am loving it, this is all new to me, a journey of discovery and one that I will remember for be rest if my life.
I am here to understand how we can make a difference through the work of WaterAid, clearly from what I have seen already, the need for adequate government funding to provide the Indian population with clean water and sanitation and the need to educate the people so that they understand the importance to their lives and health is hugely important and worthwhile.
Now I am sat in my hotel room I'm Gwalior, enjoying a Kingfisher Beer with the constant sound of horns in the street below... I've not slept for 30 hours but India, I love you, you are an amazing place!
My first full day in India and my eyes are already open wide.
Please continue to follow my journey... Tomorrow we head it to the villages.