Der Führer: Day 5 – Udhampur


“Everything is going to plan”, your glorious leader said in his last post. Famous last words if ever there were.
Got into Udhampur ahead of schedule. As predicted, there were several trains running late that we would have been daft to book beforehand but were all but certain to arrive late enough into Jammu Tawi for us to catch up the hill.
And so we arrived at the northernmost trip of the connected network. We then piled into two large Qualis taxis up the hill to the prearranged wash stop. All fine and dandy thus far.
There was no mains electricity in Udhampur “they are doing some work on the electricity today”, and so there was no hot water. Some of us are happy to go through the thrill of chucking a few jugs of cold water over themselves. Others had to stay dirty for a bit longer.
Udhampur is a small place off the normally beaten tourist track, and I guess it was a lot smaller before the railway came up here 10 years ago, so we had a nice walk round town.
I told the proprietor of the not-to-be-named place that I had arranged that we wouldn’t need the tiffin meals, and that people would ask for lunch as they wished. It was supposed to have a restaurant after all.
Well he was expecting to screw a lot more money out of us. There was an engagement party for his sister-in-law going on, and several of us were invited to the meal by some of the children.
This just turned out to be a sting. When I got to settling up, the bloke that I had just spent an hour showing how to use wordpress so he could manage the website that I had spent over an hour previously back at base creating for his crummy hotel, now asked for a whopping Rs 125 per person for the entire group for the mouthful of food we’d eaten only to be polite. He Claimed this was because of the tiffins but it was a sting, they basically had way too much party food and he wanted to flog it to us.
At this stage, after 18 months of organising, and 5 days of keeping a group of people ranging from £5 a day backpackers to seriously comfortably well off Internet execs, I started to crack finally.
The half bottle of White Mischief vodka we’d purchased for the communal nightcap went pretty quickly once we got back on the train a few minutes later. I have just ceremonially deleted the website I made for the bloke, and I’ll go through the blog and purge any mention of his hotel’s name.
But the real drama was yet to unfold.
An hour later we arrived back down the hill at Jammu Tawi, and the main block of people booked on the train climbed aboard. And guess what, according to the train conductor we didn’t have reservations and were promptly told to get off the train. Well it was going to take a lot more than some bloke armed with a computer print out to get me off that train. Unfortunately some of the group were a tad too easily persuaded that their trip had come to an abrupt conclusion and took the insane decision to get off the train without being told to do so by a bloke with an AK47 (of which there were actually plenty on the train). It is now that John “Captain Shakti” Hasted, my dear friend of over 30 years and regular India visitor during that period, came into his own and basically saved the entire project from collapse, “GET BACK ONTO THIS TRAIN RIGHT NOW!!!” he bellowed to the crowd of obedient newbies, stood on the platform. They did and, after an extended stand off with the conductor chappie, everything was ultimately resolved. There had been a split booking and as the guy couldn’t read English very well he’d just told everyone to get off.
John is now being justly worshipped by the rest of the group as the man who saved the project from disaster, and I’ve agreed to stop taking the piss out of him, while he continues to take the usual out of me, for at least one more train.
We are now enjoying the luxurious Rajdhani train out to the eastern most extremes of the network. More news as we get it ….

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Der Führer: Day 5 – Udhampur

  1. Ed

    wish I were there. Love the sweet revenge of deleting the website.
    Bon voyage!

  2. Nina

    Johnny saves the day yay!

  3. Michele

    Glad to hear that John “Captain Shakti” Hasted saved the day. Give him a pat on the back from me…I know him quite well! And do keep taking the piss out of him, I’m sure he enjoys it…

  4. skk

    Way to go.. This – you are not on the chart – can really ruin one’s day.

  5. Mike Efstathiou

    Great story!
    I’m a bit behind on the blogs, so got some serious catching up to do (and this includes having “Farming This Week” going on in the background).
    You may have reached the end of the journey while I catch up with your adventures!

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