At two o'clock in the morning I checked out of my basic and a little grotty hotel and headed off to Kolkata's Howrah station. As we were driving to the station we saw that there were a line of taxis stretching all the way down station's approach. When we reached this point there was absolutely no movement and after almost half an hour sitting in the same spot my driver turned around and went to look for another way to get me to my platform. Eventually this meant we had to drive the wrong way down a dual carriageway and go down the exit road from the station and into the car park by the platforms. He helped me with my bag and we went to the platform to wait for my train.
As everybody's seat (or bunk) is allocated in advance, you know which carriage you are going to be in, this means that you can go to the exact point on the platform where your carriage should be. So at four o'clock I climbed aboard my home for the next 19 or so hours. The train actually left half an hour early, well half an hour earlier than it said it was delayed by, so it was a good job we got there with plenty of time. I tipped my driver. padlocked by big bag underneath the seat and climbed into my top bunk for a couple of hours sleep.
The next 18 hours were a rather lonely and boring affair as nobody spoke English except for a few basic words and the gentleman below me would not unfold his bunk. This meant I had no seat and no window to look out of. I spent all 18 hours in my bunk reading, playing with my PSP, listening to my music and using my mobile as a secondary gaming device.
We eventually made it to Nagpur and with the help of the train guard (who I gave a good tip) I knew when to get off. I was met at the station platform by one of Travel Inn's representatives and he escorted me to the vehicle waiting outside. I was then driven for 15 minutes to the Tuli Imperial hotel. This is a grand 5 star hotel in the centre of Nagpur and I wasmet by the manager. They offered me my dinner but all I wanted to do was head off to my bed and catch up on the sleep I had missed the night before. The next day in the hotel was a day of relaxation and a chance to get nice and clean. I also met the three guests that would be joining me for the pre-tour extension of Naturetrek's Tiger Direct tour.