India
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Indian Railways: Always Having The Best Stories To Tell

Train journeys in India have always fascinated me. A 24 hour drive on any route, in any direction, and you feel the entire India. From bucolic country-sides to sedative garbage dumps – you get to see it all. Not to mention, a variety of interesting people, you meet on the way who challenge the ambiguity of an Indian mind, and its awkwardness, or better put, its ludicrously confusing state.

Iam writing this as I struggle to grab myself from an arresting view of open farmlands, perfectly beautified by a group of silent, comely hills in the backdrop (near Mumbai) – something far more magical than the open skies of an airplane’s window. And only a few seconds later the landscape changes into an almost dried, soundless river, with a couple of fishermen in their boats – battling to acquire their routine dinner.

coconut trees

I was almost spellbound, when I realised that I’ve still got a lot more to see and a plenty more to experience – as in the next few hours I will enter into the redoubtable railway tracks of Kerala, something profoundly ill-famous to man-trap even the most uninterested people around.

Where train journeys are a perfect playground for people who love wandering outside its windows with ever changing sights, it’s even better for those who love the company of strangers and feel a different sense of excitement in it. Let alone, how these people – with all those small talks, that always lead to long, profound conversations – educate you and broaden your understanding of the world you live in.

train passengers

But the way these conversations sometimes change and develop a more confusing, perplexing state among the speakers, always turn out to be the interesting part.

Out of 100, politics make 99.99% of these conversation, with never having two people thinking alike. The discussion always starts with one person (almost) accidently making a foul comment on someone else’s ideal politician and within minutes, the discussion plunges off into a level of detail that leaves you swivelling your head in bewilderment.

This is exactly when the junior Arnab Goswami steps into the debate – almost out of nowhere – trying to dominate others, puffing his cheeks, blowing out air with every word he speaks. At this moment you realise that you’re the only person not nodding vigorously or repeating ‘Yes’ over and over again, like others do, to calm his nerves down. But he only breaks off with the arrival of a station, as everyone gets a perfect chance to be excused.

So you are lucky and end up being in the company of a few people, who all have nothing but just one thing in common – the will to talk, then even a couple of days’ ride seem no less than fun. Even if not, you can enjoy your journey eating the ever changing, interesting food, delivered right on your seat.

indian train

You start out from Delhi, eating Samosas and Rotis, but soon introduce yourself with the first cultural makeshift by having Dhokla in Gujrat. This, momentarily changes into Garam Vada Pau in the main course as you hit Maharashtra, and then into Idli Sambhar in Southern India. But one thing that always make the snack are the red chilli powered Cucumbers.

I guess Indians have some sort of love affair with them. Despite getting an immediate feeling of disgust in our stomach coupled with regret – we just can’t stop eating them.

train

Long, uninterrupted train journeys are unique in their own way. With (almost) everyone looking out for each other. Here building a healthy relationship with others – particularly for those travelling alone – is the key to a seamless journey. Not to mention, they always give you a chance to meet some of the nicest people you never knew existed around you.

I believe these train journeys add a significant value to my life as a traveller – given their ability to exude a lot of character, no matter in which part of the country you’re travelling. The stories, the adventure, and all those good and bad experiences, are absolutely unparalleled, leaving you with no other option but to appreciate the entire journey altogether.

But as I moved here to give this piece of writing a perfect end and appreciate it a little more, our train made a quick halt across a not-so-appeasing pile of dump yard, giving me a whiff of changing reality, by making each breath a struggle in itself. But hey, this is real India – and I’m here to see it all.

goods train

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Filed under: India

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Shortly after my first real nine-to-five job, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in my backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to stay in one place. I believe that with a little courage and inspiration, everyone has the power to follow their dreams. Just as I've followed mine!

13 Comments

  1. Deepak Prasad says

    Nice one Dev. Just loved the way how you touched every part of the uniqueness offered by the train journey.
    From: Deepak Prasad, Your School Mate

    • Man, it’s you! Nice. Good to hear from you after so long and you contacted me here? I’ll find you on facebook.

    • Hi Neeraj, thanks for your comment. Train journeys in India are just awesome, always full of stories.

  2. I’ve always felt that when I visit India the train is the best way to get around. It’s not the fastest or most glamourous, but it will help get me in tune with the local culture faster than any other mode of transport.

    • You should totally travel in a train Kevin when you visit India. I am sure you’d love the experience.

  3. This makes a nice change from the usual British way of selling stuff on a train – a trolley with crisps, chocolate, soda and tea and coffee – no matter where you are it’s the same. It seems you can take a culinary tour of India without having to actually get off the train!

    • Absolutely Shobha. That’s one of the highlights of Indian trains. You get some of the most diversified food items, you ever knew existed, delivered right at your seat.

  4. I didn’t realise that vendors served you food from the outside of the train. I’m so used to the usual British way where a person with a cart comes rolling down the train and its the same type of food no matter where you are – crisps, chocolate, soda and tea/coffee. It looks like you can have a culinary tour of India without actually having to get off the train!

  5. Nothing offers much closer and personal view of India as the railways. You meet a lot of new people, eat different cuisines and witness mesmerizing landscapes. Totally agree with you 🙂

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