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banner Friday, 21 December, 2001, 08:40 GMT
Tales from the slow train
Phil Long reports for BBC Sport Online on the Barmy Army's Indian antics
The journey between Ahmedabad and Bangalore was far from smooth for some of England's travelling fans, especially those aboard a train with Phil Long.

Remember last week I told you about the fate that befell three England supporters after the first Test trying to get a drink during a dry day in Chandigarh?

Well, the misery of the three - Geoff, Ray and Christian - was compounded by a logistical mistake that saw them arrive here in Bangalore just two hours before the start of play in the final Test.

They were under the impression that they had trumped other England supporters travelling down from Ahmedabad in reserving berths on a train from Bombay that took just 19 hours rather than the 26-28 it took the rest of us.

Indian trains
Beware the train which stops at every station
But, thanks to a mistake in reading the timetable, the journey was in fact scheduled to take 24 hours longer - a staggering 43 hours to wind its way from Bombay to Bangalore!

They had only become aware of their mistake when the train they were travelling on stopped at the minor stations and halts that normally flash by in a blur, even on Indian trains.

By the time they had arrived in Bangalore they were seriously wondering what mishap might befall them next on the tour!

Rogue advice

However, the Chandigarh Three haven't been the only ones to fall prey to transport difficulties during England's whirlwind trip around the subcontinent.

For the players and press the venues for each of England's six games (three warm-up and three Tests) are never more than a couple of hours flying time apart.

England fan with union flag
Life can be tough for the novice traveller
But for England's rag-tag mob of supporters on the ground it's a different story.

Two England fans (on their first ever trip to India) arriving for the second and third Tests, were surprised to be told that a train ticket to Ahmedabad would set them back 60 a piece.

Why didn't they consider hiring a car with a driver for 250 to get them to the second Test via few tourist sites along the way, a passing guide inquired.

They were loudly telling all and sundry of the help they had received in Delhi when more than one Englishman quietly told them the train fare was in fact a shade under six quid.

For his own sake, I hope the driver dropped the two lads off in Ahmedabad and headed straight back to Delhi!

Bus trip

Other problems have been of our own making and yours truly isn't adverse to the odd gaffe.

Travelling up from Hyderabad to Jaipur during the warm-up games I had the great idea to detrain from The Delhi Express and attempt a short cut across country by bus from Bhopal to Jaipur.

I envisaged a pleasant six or seven-hour journey through glorious Rajastani countryside.

But, to cut a long story (and journey) short, it turned out to be a nightmare 17-hour, overnight, journey that stopped at every one-camel outpost between the two cities.

Most of the England supporters travelling overland arrived in Bangalore the day before the Test started.

Barmy Army bar

And most spent the evening in The Underground Bar (bizarrely decked out as London tube station) enjoying their first beer since the third day's play in Chandigarh some 12 days ago.

I say "most" as it turned out that a small group had, against Indian Railway Regulations, smuggled three bottles of local vodka on to their train and had set up their own impromptu bar for the two nights they were travelling.

Police inside a stadium
Authorities can be persuaded to turn a blind eye
In fact, a little bit of baksheesh (tip) to the chief ticket collector had seen him a regular at Bar Barmy Army on both nights until way after closing time!

Sadly, for this correspondent the journey down to Bangalore wasn't quite so pleasant.

Although I had booked a berth on a direct train that took a mere 37 hours I made the mistake of indulging in the exotically named Baghdadi Chicken in a restaurant on the last day in Ahmedabad.

And the dish itself may as well have been prepared and cooked in the Iraqi capital as it made my journey less than comfortable for over 30 hours.

I may have booked a berth on board but I was occupied in the squat Indian toilet on board for most the time as we trundled southward.

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