Waking up in the wee hours of the morning, the first thing that I should do is to check my phone to ensure that my train ticket has been confirmed and my berth number is already available. But of course, how could I have a little bit of challenge that day if I remember to do so?
Yes. I forgot.
I rushed myself to make sure that I won’t be late for my train. According to the map that I have, New Delhi Rail Station is close to where I stay, but I took auto anyway. I have done my research about New Delhi Train Station and its infamous scams. The dark of the morning adds more flavour to the stories I have read from the internet.
Ten steps after passing the gate, a stranger grabbed me by my shoulder and started ranting about doing a favour for me and helping me with a train ticket. “HA! I know this scam!” I said to myself confidently. “I already have my ticket. Thanks”, I said to him with full determination and got rid of his hand of my shoulder. And as I thought the scam is over, I stumbled upon a far more resilient scammer.
I guess it was my mistake because I went to the wrong place to look for my train platform. At this point, I still thought that I did the right thing. I followed the flow of people who seemed to queue to get to the train platform. That is a wise to do when you don’t really know what to do, right?
Well, at least for that occasion. When I tried to get in, there was this uniform-dressed guy asking for my ticket. I thought that is normal so I showed him my ticket – which was an electronic ticket on my phone. He looked at the e-ticket on my phone and said, “Sorry, but your train is cancelled. Come with me, you have to buy a new ticket if you want to get to Agra. The train is leaving in 30-minute.”
At that time, deep down I know that he is a scammer but somehow my heart beat so fast as if the train was really cancelled and I have to buy a new ticket. He told me to go somewhere on the first floor of the train station and purchase a more expensive train ticket. I came to my sense and refused to be told where to go. I went to find an information centre and luckily I found one instantly. I asked the person sitting there where my platform is and he said nothing but showing me his index finger lazily to point out “Platform 1” (it was still really early in the morning, so it was understandable).
“Platform 1, thank you”, and I said to that scammer “See, my train is not cancelled!”
He was one tough scammer though. I guess he is a “professional” scammer. He still followed me even though I have passed through the body scanner. I remember that he was yelling at me from afar and said that I am stubborn. Funny and a bit ironic.
“No more scams! I am safe now”, I reassured myself.
True. No more train station scam that morning. I hopped on my 7.20 AM train and sat somewhere in one of the coaches. And then, I remembered. I need my berth number! I have no internet connection on my phone and I don’t even know if my reservation is confirmed.
“I’m screwed!” I told myself.
I was extremely worried. But this kind of situation forces any human to be courageous. So I asked one of the passengers if I could use his phone to check my reservation status and luckily he helped me. Problem solved! I got my berth number, I thanked him, and I ran out of that coach to find the right coach for me.
It was one heck of thrilling experience in less than one hour.
I booked an executive class seat, with breakfast and considerably cosy space.
Stepping out of the Agra train station, I was welcomed by auto drivers who all looked very eager to take me as their passenger. Another tip that I learned from the internet is that you have to clearly state to your driver that you don’t want to shop, or else he will take you somewhere to shop first before taking you to your destination. And ironically, that would be your fault not him.
My plans for that day were to go to Baby Taj, Agra Fort and of course, Taj Mahal.
So, here we go. Baby Taj!
Baby Taj is actually another Mughal mausoleum that is often regarded as the draft of the Taj Mahal itself – hence the baby. Properly named as Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, it is also known as a jewel box. The mausoleum is built for the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of emperor Shah Jahan himself.
You don’t need to spend too much time spent here because it is quite a small compound. I’ll say 30-minute is enough. So, that’s all for my first destination in Agra.