Posts Tagged ‘Indian railways’

I’m in Delhi for a well deserved Diwali break. But that’s the awesome part. Not the main awesome part at any rate. The fun and frankly eye popping was the journey.

I travelled by train. The Rajdhani Express. You see, I’m a great believer in planning ahead and in view of the worldwide recession, have decided to cut back on luxuries. Like food. So I figured (reluctantly and resistant to the last) that air travel logically belonged in that club.

But once the decision was made I was a bit squeamish about the prospect of rail travel after a long time. So I prepared myself for 16 hours of ennui, bad food and qualms about personal safety.

But I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Indian railways totally rock! First off, as soon as I walked into Mumbai Central Station there were metal detectors and security personnel who actually looked alert. Then, as soon as everyone was settled in the train, policemen came with sniffer dogs! Sniffer dogs in trains!    

I have never seen sniffer dogs in reality. Only on TV and it was all very intriguing. The dog, handsome bugger that he was, was quite disappointing though. Blame it on movies but I expected him to dart about energetically under the seats and ferret out all kinds of stuff. But he just went about his business lackadaisically and resisted all stimuli to play the hero.

Except when it came to my crotch. Maybe because I was pre-menstrual, he figured I was a bitch in heat and went at it much to the amusement of his handlers. God, I died of embarrassment and even after more than two hours had lapsed, steadfastly refused eye contact with my fellow passengers.

Things eased a bit after the train started zipping through the Mumbai suburbs and tea was served. There were the most scrumptious cheese sandwiches and samosas I have eaten. Ever. So while airlines are slashing costs by cutting back on already indifferent service and food, the Indian Railways have been quietly improving theirs. All in all a very pleasant journey. Long live Laloo Prasad Yadav and the Indian Railways.

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Well, the next few are going to be erratic, blogging wise and the reason is that I’m out of town for a wedding in the family, no less. So when I do post, it’s all going to be The Wedding Kronicles. (You know I’m hopelessly addicted to the letter K:)

I’m in Ranchi. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s the capital of Jharkhand, I think. And Here I thought I might go through my life without having to set foot in Jharkhand and Bihar. But then never say never. In any case, I spoke too soon. Ranchi isn’t all that bad. It’s a quaint, lovely little place and the weather is way better than Bombay.

But getting here, well now that’s a story in itself. I decided to take the train. Well, I didn’t quite decide, OPEC decided for me. I was availing the services of Indian Railways after almost three years and was quite excited. For one, I love eating train food. Then I figured it would be good relaxation. Of late I have developed a restless nature and figured that the forced rest would do me good. And boy, who can resist the lure of using railway loos.

And I wasn’t disappointed on any of the counts. The food was good and there was lots of it – pakodas, aloo bondas, dosas, chow mein, you name it they had it. And this is apart from regular meals. I sampled everything and ended up with a serious case of indigestion.

I got more than my fair share of relaxation and then some. Seriously, the journey is looooong – 27 hours officially which means anywhere between 30 and 35 hours. It turned out to be the former, 30 hours to be precise.

And the loos ran out of water by about 10 in the morning. Thrilling!

Then of course, there was the human drama. A gentleman wished to lodge a compliant against the coach attendant. He made quite a to do about not having been given a blanket and sheets immediately upon arrival. He sounded quite aggrieved as he complained to the TT that even after 25 minutes of boarding the train no one came to cater to him. The coach attendant whined that he was busy catering to the other passengers.

The TT, knew that the poor coach attendant would be penalised if the guest lodged a complaint. So what does he do? He soothes the ruffled feathers of the guest by alternately murmuring apologies and shouting at the coach attendant. This immediately makes the guest feel much better.  I can’t believe people still fall for the good cop bad cop routine. I suppose it’s more to do with the fact that officials must be seen to be doing something. It’s classic consumer psychology.

Anyway, after an eventful train journey, I’m in Ranchi. And I’ve already gorged on yummy jalebis and sattu filled kachoris and aloo ki sabzi, all accompanied by endless cups of steaming tea and juicy gossip. So, If you can overlook the accompanying chaos, big fat Indian Weddings totally rock!

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