It's a twenty-five hour train ride from Kolkata to Dehli, and it's not bad. I was in a four-bunk compartment with air conditioning through which cycled five very nice Indians.
I arrived in Old Dehli about 10:00 PM, collected my bicycle, then went out and hired a Tik Tik for the trip to my hotel. The driver first asked for 1,000 Rupees, which is 20$ US, and I told him no. We stood there arguing for a while as others began to gather around to see what all the commotion was about. One of the onlookers, a gentleman in his 50's, asked me how much the driver wanted. When I told him, he began shouting at the guy, telling him that he should be ashamed of himself. "Two hundred only!" He said, "you are trying to cheat this poor fellow!"
Now the crowd really started berating the Tik Tik driver. I almost felt sorry for him. He argued back for a while, but finally gave in. "He will take you for 200 Rupees," another person told me, "do not give this scoundrel a penny more!"
With the price settled, the crowd began piling my belongings into the Tik Tik. My bike and panniers took up the whole passenger compartment so I had to ride up front with the driver on a seat made for only one.
We raced out of the train station, I was hanging out one side of the Tik Tik, the driver was hanging out of the other. My bike was hanging out of both sides. Unless you've ridden with one of these gleeful maniacs, you can't imagine the sheer terror involved. We careened through heavy traffic, narrowly missing pedestrians, cars, other Tik Tiks, busses and the occasional sacred cow. Several times, I closed my eyes and screamed, sure we were about to have a fiery head-on collision with a ten-ton truck.
As we rounded a corner, the front tire hit a pothole and the whole rig tipped dangerously. Instinctively, I put one foot out to try to stabilize the Tik Tik and nearly fell out. A last second grab for the mirror mount was all that saved me.
It was a crazy 20 minutes, but I have to admit, it was fun in a twisted, oh-my-god-I'm-going-to-die kind of way. I really admire the skill of the Indian drivers. They are true masters at the art of motorized ballet.