Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#6 Train Journeys

Train journeys in India are the closest you can get to watching life in all its registers.
It is literally a movie of life played on in front of you, on the stations, in the moving landscapes of towns and farmlands.
I've been on a train only once outside of India and it was on the Star Coastlight, one of the most celebrated train routes in America that traces its way from San Diego, on the Mexican border to Seattle close to the Canadian border. We switched trains in LA and then it was two days of spectacular landscapes that got better and better after we entered Oregon. It was Christmas time, so we woke up to snow falling on the coniferous trees. The glass-domed dining cart was fun because it gave us a 360 degree view of the canyons and the forests.
But it was still a one-dimensional experience. It missed the interaction of people, and the interaction with the stations.
On Indian trains, most times life-stories come spilling out in the midst of strangers whom you will never meet again.
On the Star Coastlight, all we found were grumpy people self-involved in their own peace and quiet. But the landscapes were the best you would ever find.


  1. I wonder how prices compare. Amtrak prices can be expensive. Is there an Indian equivalent to Amtrak or is it a collection of private railways?

  2. Indian railways are run by the government. I don't think there are any private railways.

    The fares are very cheap, especially 2nd class.
    1st class AC can be more expensive - but at least all classes come with sleeping facilities unlike Amtrak where you have to sit.