Saturday, June 23, 2012

Best Train Ride (in India)

When ever we visit India, we always prefer to travel by train. My wife’s elder brother’s family is an Indian Airlines family. They think we are wasting time by travelling in train. But we enjoy train ride and the sceneries.

Here in USA, we never have a chance to travel by train, even though it is available. Many of our friends/relatives in India advice us to go by road (I mean hire a tourist cab). To be honest, we are afraid. We chickened out. The traffic, the no road rules, the oncoming car on our side with beaming lights to overtake another vehicle, that is enough for us.

This January we landed in Delhi and stayed in Gurgaon (yes the Indian Airlines in-law family). We had already planned to visit Amritsar to see Wagah Border, Golden Temple, and Jalian Wala Bagh Memorial.

When ever we travel in India by train, we always take AC First Class (if available). AC First Class seems luxury. Yes, it is luxury except the bathrooms. Only 10 passengers can travel in a compartment, but still the bathrooms are dirty and bad smelly. Yuck.

Let me come to the main point. We returned from Amritsar to New Delhi by train, the Swarna Shatabdi Express. Just 3 words. We were impressed.

Compartment was clean. The bathrooms were clean. Windows were clean. More than that, there were stewardesses (like airlines). I was surprised. Not in the sense of a sexism. But in the sense of equal opportunity employment in Indian Railways.

I have flown Air India a few times in unavoidable situations. All they ask during dinner is “Veg” or “Non Veg”.

In this Shatabdi Express, the stewardess asked: Continental Non Veg or Continental Veg or Indian Non Veg or Indian Veg. That was service. The journey was about 6 hours. We were given something to munch 3 times in addition to the dinner. If only they served cocktails!

Those 6 hours went like 6 minutes. There was a family sitting next to us. Husband and wife, 2 small kids, and Husband’s parents. They live in New Delhi. Returning from Amritsar after a brief holiday. Very pleasant conversation. Very friendly. Had a great time. One thing we noticed. The husband and wife spoke with their kids in English only. When our kids were small, we insisted they speak to us only in Tamil. Is that politically incorrect?

Unforgettable train journey.

22 comments:

  1. Me first!

    welcome back...now I shall read the post and reply! :)

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  2. I want to try that train one day. It is not easy to maintain clean trains with our population which doesn't know what cleanliness means.

    In most of the families, parents speak to their children in English nowadays. Tamil, esp. is dying.

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  3. agree with sandhya, our people need to learn some civic sense first!

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  4. sounds good... some months back there was this deal on snapdeal which I wanted to take- for the similar thing...Hmmm lemme try next time :)

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  5. Numerounity,

    You are numero uno. No hay duda al respecto.

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  6. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. I understand what you are saying.

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  7. Thanks for your comments Ash. And, welcome to my blog. Agree with you.

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  8. Thanks for your comments Numerounity. I am sure you will enjoy this ride.

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  9. I love train journeys too and it is smthing I miss ! Will keep this train in mind if we go to Amritsar. In general, I love shatabdi bcos of their regular meals only ;) their food is better than Rajdhani also.

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  10. Thanks for your comments lostworld. Yes, the food is better in Shatabdi. We took the non-stop train from New Delhi to Chennai. Worst food.

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  11. Only passengers can change the scenario..they must be taught the cleanliness.

    This trend of speaking english all the time is so irritating..why are we degrading our own languages?

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  12. Thanks for your comments Renu. I completely agree with you.

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  13. hi SG sorry ya been missing in the blogging world ! ohh how i love travelling in trains..the view from the window, the eavesdropping on conversations, the wondering about people when you see them sitting around you.

    and shatabdi..is royals tuff ya..how they pamper !! flights toh yaha pe sad ho agye hai !

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  14. Thanks for your comments Sulagna. Long time no contact. Think we both should fix it.

    Like you, we love train ride.

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  15. Hi SG...train rides...hmm...nostalgia strikes. We used the train every year for a ride from Chennai to Palakkad...several years back...Those rides are unforgettable and it didn't matter that it was second class or ac...the fun in the train is something indescribable...

    Languages...no mother tongue...I am not amazed that the parents spoke to their children in English .. I am extremely lucky to have parents who inculcated the importance of our mother tongue and got chided if we used English in our everyday conversations at home...

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  16. Hi Aparna,

    Nanni for your comments. Nan enthra santhosama erukkum that you also love trains. Your amma and achchan know how to raise their kids.

    How is my broken Malayalam? It is the sweetest language. It is contagious. You visit Kerala for a few days and you start to speak in Malayalam or at least in that slang. Nan Guruvayoor pokunda many times.

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  17. I have never traveled on Shatabdi. The journey sounds so good. Hearing continental food on train must have been different right? It's always "bread-omleaaat" "chaaaaiiiaaa" "koffee koffeee" heard on our trains :)
    I really miss Indian trains. There is so much happening there. So many stories you can create while observing people. Of course, now I get to travel in Eurail which is amazing. I love the experience. But no stories can be heard there.
    oops sorry! I just go on and on when I talk about trains. Will stop now :)

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  18. Thanks for your comments Shruthi. With the way you wrote “bread omelet, Chai, and Coffee”, I can actually hear in my ears the exact sounds at the Indian railway stations.

    Shruthi, please write a post on Eurail. We would love to read.

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  19. You travelled like a Maharaja!

    I am confident that more trains will have better services soon :-)

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  20. Thanks for your comments Vetrimagal. We ride in all sorts of trains, depending on the situation. For example, we travelled from Rameshwaram to Kanyakumari in a non A/c 3 tier.

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  21. I never knew about the gud hospitality in Shatabdi . Great to know such service exists in India.

    Ever tried the Local Trains ?, worth another long blog post :D

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  22. Thanks for your commens MM. Yes, we have travelled in local trains. 2 weeks after this Swarna Shatabdi train, we travelled from Rameshwaram to Kanyakumari in a non A/C 3 Tier. Thanks for the excellent idea for a post.

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