It is said that Indian Railways is one of the cheapest mode of long-distance transport in the world, probably after hitch-hiking. With the number of people traveling without ticket, WT, as it’s popularly known as in my home-town, I guess an Indian-railways journey is not much different than a hitch-hiked trip for some.
We see all kinds of people, those who have never traveled in trains, those who hate to set foot in them, and others, like this writer, who travel in trains for obvious reasons (-see the first sentence). But those who have traveled in trains cannot disagree that every experience has something unique and memorable in itself.
I have had my share of long voyages, considering that I did my studies (and then worked for a while) in Mumbai, which is around 19-22 hours of rail-time away from my home town, and then am stationed in Chennai since last 1.5 (light) years, which again is 30-35 hours away from my hometown Satna. My fond memories include exchanging my comic books when I was a kid, looking for female passengers in the chart when I was a teenager and meeting a variety of people from equally varied places & cultures. My not-so-fond memories include searching for an upper birth when my height over-took the size of the side-upper berth in the compartments, and hoping some solace and quietness when I wanted to read a good book in front of a noisy co-passenger and infinitely delayed schedules. Overall, it has been a fulfilling and generously educating experience.
Like most of the people I have lots of stories about my journeys to share. But will wait for a better occasion (basically when I can summon the zeal to ink the interesting ones down). I feel proud to be a part of this system every time I see the Mark Tully documentary on Indian Railways, but on the other hand I also feel miserable at some point every time I travel.