We have always perceived India’s train journeys to be a revelation of sorts. The chaos, the people, the sheer pandemonium that ensues from the depths of the station itself are enough to make you want to whip out your pen and paper to write down everything you see.
To state a simple example:
~*~ The train enters the platform and stops, the passengers who need to get in will crowd around the door of the train…for pete’s sake, let the passengers in the train get down first…but NO! That’s just our way! We want to get in first! Don’t even talk about general compartments! It’s a nightmare ..the few times I had to travel in the general compartment, I sat at the door..barely enough place to place my arse among people’s legs. It’s dangerous…but then what is life without the risks!?
I’ll admit, travelling by train may not be a walk in the park for Indians (let alone the firangs), but what you get to see during your course of travel here is something you will never experience in any other country! Of course, there are several other benefits too
Coming up close with the Real Indian…
Every train passenger must know at least two languages to survive journeys on the Indian Railways. Hindi, works most of the time, else (broken) English. You’re blessed if you are to get someone who speaks grammatically correct English. Its like one big family, you are up close with another Indian, their stories become you’re stories and vice versa. Lots of fun …people who don’t know to laugh, you will learn to laugh at the most stupidest jokes.
Sleeping like a baby on the hard berths (they are not all that soft)
Maybe it is the chug of the train or the rhythmic clocking of the wheels, people have almost always had a very peaceful experience sleeping on trains.
Having Insomnia problems, try a train journey, it might help! I have come across a few people who have overshot their stations, other passengers who will irritatingly ask
you ‘which station’ every time the train stops.
Food and the aroma of different cuisines
Indians love eating and if possible they would carry their stoves to cook in trains too (if allowed). Indians love sharing food, whether its a biscuit or a wafer or a chapati. We might not understand each others language but food is something that brings Indians together.
You don’t ask people to share their food with you, be kind to accept if they do. Make sure you return the favor, if you don’t have anything with you, at least buy them a cup of coffee/tea.
Walking around, socializing
Walk around, meet people. Who knows you might know someone travelling by the same train, make connections. You might meet your future wife/husband on a journey. Trains are the best places where love stories start, don’t believe me? Look at the number of Bollywood films made aboard trains or involving trains…trains and love have a definite connection.
No train journey is complete without chai and coffee
…and in the musical way they go about it. The hawkers familiar style of saying ‘chaiiii’ ‘coffee coffee coffee‘ or ‘samosaiiis’ in the nasal tone always brings a smile to the face. Always!
Rivers, waterfalls, hills…if you’re a nature lover, then a train journey is an experience. For those travelling to or from Goa, (that would be me 😉 ) you will be lucky enough to pass by the beautiful Dudhasagar waterfalls, and the landscapes are simply amazing. People also screaming in tunnels…I don’t understand why, some thrill to it?
It is relatively cheaper than other modes of transport. Getting yourself a confirmed ticket is a task…but that again is an adventure by itself. You wanna go to the railway station and book your ticket, the people, the chaos and the fact that you have to stand in line, sweat it out and make small talk with fellow other passengers, crack a few jokes and talk about how inefficient the man/woman at the counter is…“he’s/she’s so slow, I could do a better job that him/her”
You can still catch a train on the move!
Unlike a plane…you still catch a train while on the move, its not advisable but then its not impossible…if you’re a good sprinter and carrying light baggage. If Kajol (in DDLJ) & Deepika (in Chennai Express) can run on the platform to catch their train…so can you!
Things to do on a train
With almost NO NETWORK on the journey, its time to catch up on a book, a magazine or a newspaper. Time to look at your co-passengers and smile, where do we have the time to do that otherwise in our so called busy lives. How long can you remain quiet, engage in small talk, you never know how much you might have in common with a fellow passenger.
Love for the TOP BERTH
Undisturbed privacy. While other fight over the other berths, we watch them from above…and enjoy the action. We all do it…!
Trains are like second home to me, I make myself comfortable while traveling 🙂 It does have to be a confirmed ticket tho’, else I’d prefer NOT TO TRAVEL.
So when is your next journey? Mine maybe be in 2 days…