India – by rail
Indian Railways has 114,500 kilometres of total track over a route of 65,000 kilometres and 7,500 stations. The railways carry over 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily
Travelling by train in India is a memorable experience. It is remarkable how people get to know each other and enjoy so much on the journey that it is great fun. I remember travelling by train during my school holidays when we would go to Kerala.
In Mumbai, I travelled by crowded suburban trains from Vasai to Churchgate. Even in this crowded train there was so much of activity going on that you almost forgot you were travelling in such a crowd. People playing card games, antakshari going on in the train, ladies cutting vegetables for dinner, people offering seats, keeping briefcases on the rack..
Recently on my India trip, we travelled from Bangalore to Alwaye by train – The Intercity Express. It was a great experience travelling by train in India after a long long time
The intercity express crosses 3 states – Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala. It starts at Bangalore Cantonment and passes through Carmelaram, Hosur, Dharmapuri, Salem Junction, Sankaridurg, Erode Junction, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Thrissur, Alwaye and Ernakulam. (I remember when young – we would play the game of guessing the next station). The ticket collector comes in to check our tickets. The advantage of travelling by train is that you can stretch your legs once a while.
People were reading, playing with their iphones , ipads and laptops. I like to stand at the door to drink in the sights and sounds of the stations that we pass. I also get to take some pictures of the landscape (see the two pictures above).
There is just a 2-3 minute stop at the station and you have to be ready to load/unload all your luggage in this time when boarding/alighting.
Another wonderful joy of travelling by train is the nasal calls of the vendors – chaiiii, kapi, param-pori, vadai, veg biryani, cutlet, sambaram, tomato soup etc. One is tempted to try out the food.
We talk to people on the journey and when it is time to alight we can make some good friends.
I am reminded of the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson – “ Life is a journey not a destination”.