. We’ve heard so many stories about the dangers of taking the trains in India. We did our homework and researched on the pros and cons of using the trains vis a vis private hired car in going from New Delhi to Jaipur and to Agra and back to New Delhi. In the end, we decided to take the train – three train rides actually: New Delhi to Jaipur, Jaipur to Agra and then Agra to New Delhi.
. We booked our train trips on-line since we knew it would be difficult to take our chances in buying them on-site. Booking them was a breeze – with a minimal service charge.
We also took precautions about the touts and scammers known to breed outside and inside the train stations (particularly at the New Delhi Train Station). One travel guide even pointed out that there are touts who tell you that your hotel burned down and they will take you to a different hotel (where they get a hefty commission, of course).
. We almost fell prey to one group of scammers.
. We were already in the platform waiting for our train going to Jaipur before 6:00 AM when a decent-looking man approached us and asked us if we already have our tickets. I showed him our eTickets (we purchased them on-line). He told me that we need to have them changed to the “boarding pass”. My wife was wary that this must be a scam, but still I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He told us to follow him to the second floor. Along the way, we asked a decent-looking Indian couple if it was really necessary to have our eTickets changed to boarding passes – and he said it was not necessary. But the suspicious gentleman butt in and said that its a new regulation.
. My suspicion increased a notch. He may have noticed it so he showed me his “identification papers” apparently indicating that he is an employee of the train station. Still, we followed him. He told us to go up to the “Tourism Office” … Hmmm. Now I am really suspicious. I told him the Tourism Office is closed at that time (I read that it opens at 8:00 AM). “No, there are people there to help you” was his reply.
. When we got to the second floor, the offices were closed as I expected, but there were three Indians there and one of them asked for our passports. Stupid me, I handed them over. I finally realized that this is a scam – he was perusing our Myanmar Visas, and not the data page of our passports! I quickly grabbed our passports and ran down the stairs, back to the platform to board our train to Jaipur.
. It was a close call. And this incident almost ruined what has been a great holiday in India. Braving the trains of India – definitely NOT for the faint-hearted.
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