I arrived in Kolkata alone after one wonderful week traveling with Karen from Panipat to Jamshedpur. I decided to try Couchsurfing for my first time alone in India… I was a little afraid but at the same time super excited to try it. I have many things to say about my experience in Kolkata but I will start with something funny, my experience in local buses.
You need to be prepared for bus traveling in India, they are overcrowded, without a system to announce the stations, actually without proper bus stations sometimes. At different light stops, you will see people jumping on the bus when the bus is still going.
I arrived at Howrah station in Kolkata and I was completely lost, all that I knew was the number of the bus to take until the nearest station to my host: AC12. Not an easy thing to do, Kolkata is a crowded city in India (like all the other places here) and it took me a while until I found the right bus.
I was happy on the right bus, I paid exactly how much the host told me that it should be and I kindly asked the conductor to announce me when it will be my stop. My double mistake was that I thought that he understood my request and that I didn’t verify the stations on Google maps. I knew that I should travel for one hour if it’s traffic. For me, it was crazy traffic so I was confident to sit and check my messages. After 45 minutes, the conductor came surprised to me and told me to get out of the bus somewhere in the middle of a highway.
Nothing…no building was around just the highway and some workers waiting for another bus. I was between crying and laughing about my decision to trust the conductor. I saw two police officers and I showed where I needed to arrive and they instead of giving me directions, they were admitting that I’m very far away and asking me how I arrived there. ?
After all, I crossed the highway and I waited for the same bus. No people around, just me waiting for the AC12 bus and being ready to wave to the driver because it wasn’t a proper station. Ignoring all the other cars, I stopped the bus and this time learning from my mistakes I put the host on the phone with the conductor and I stayed next to him until the right station. The story ended up well but I hope you’ll learn something from my experience. Don’t be like Ramona, check twice, be aware, stay safe!