Posted by: Madhavi CN | May 2, 2016

Chugging through India by Train

When we travel, we get to meet lot of interesting people; when we take the Indian trains, we have the microcosm of India awaiting to be explored and experienced. If you love Nature, you can soak on the changing landscape, if you enjoy chatting you have people around to get introduced to, if you are one of those introverts who are happy by themselves, just throw an eye and ear to people around and enjoy the fun.

IMG_20160430_131738The subjects to observe keep changing as a new destination may take away some and bring forth some new ones. The best view is often from the general compartment and as we move higher to the sleeper or AC classes, we realize that we get secluded and need finer observation skills to enjoy the panorama. However colorful and boisterous the crowd is, for the summers and long distance journeys, I try to stick to the AC to avoid getting exposed
to the tropical heat.

Here is the peep into the people I came across as I travelled from Secunderabad to New Aliporedaur by the Sec’bad-Guwahati Holiday Special:

A newly-wed couple going for their honeymoon to Gangtok: Their relationship was gaining a strong foundation on singdas, biscuits, groundnuts, savories, sweets and


The Red & Blue Love Bag

some exotic stuff, the names of which I know not. Every once in a while the guy pulls out a large red and blue bag from below the berth and takes a handful of eatables for his dear wife. She first gives a nonchalant look followed by a puckered face and a heavy head swing to say that she does not want them. He cajoles her prodding the food item into her face. Finally she relents, picks the piece gingerly, gives him a giggle and both munch happily ever after.


An Energy conservationist: This mountain of a man slowly lumbered up with his relatively tiny satchel and took his seat on the side-berth. There is no escaping the bulk of this man. As the train started, he sluggishly laid himself sideways on the berth with his head supported by his right hand. He bundled the pillow, bedsheets and the rug messily near his belly. He slept for most of the time with well-spaced out snores that were not irritating but rather funny. They were more like a little girl giving a cry of joy as her baby brother responded to her attention! Whenever he woke up from his slumber, he bought a packet of potato chips from the hawkers and chomped them away fast and furiously. He was not brand-specific, drank no water, spoke little and moved minimal until he got down at Kharagpur, leaving a pile of empty packets.

The Lord of Rings: The Lord of Rings wore a crisp cotton dhoti, had a large vermilion bottu and looked totally chilled out.  The dhoti with the simple brocade border made me wonder if this would be the perfect wear for the South Indian summer. He declared with pride that he was the expert on precious stones and had a ‘doublu doublu doublu’ on the Internet! He saw a man with three stone rings and went into an impromptu singsong style lecture on the properties of precious stones. I felt that people were trying to hide their rings to avoid his attention. His other amusing trait was that he was guessing the profession of every man around. None of the guesses turned right but then he did not stop. He guessed that my husband was from the Police Department. I had to suppress my smile and thank god that he left the women out.


The Jolly Couple

The jolly ride couple: Train journeys are soporific. This elderly couple took that saying a notch higher. When they slept, it was as if they were on the operation table on anesthesia, waiting for surgery. I don’t know if people on operation tables made biological noises owing to the gases in their belly, but these two did. Freedom to let out was their birthright. The man could also make guttural noises. It was disgusting to all but we could do nothing but to let the elderly have a jolly ride.

The chatter-box: I do not feel like calling this guy a chatter-box, perhaps you may help me with the right term. He talked continuously and with all. He had wit and the heart to help people around. He helped move heavy luggage, get water bottles for the elderly, give political views, discuss the swachh-Bharath tax that was getting included in hotel tariff, explore ways to run railways and a lot more topics – some useful and some totally unnecessary. He even invited his friends from other compartments to come and join him in the AC one. When he took rest, it felt that the whole train was on silent mode.

The Mobile Marriage Bureau: A heavy gold chain with an ‘om’ pendant, around his neck and enough gold rings on his fingers, he was the well-combed and well-dressed man who was on the phone for most of the time. He was loud, cheerful and upbeat in his conversations. He seemed to be helping people get married, rather helping their children to get married! He was the quintessential marriage broker in the Indian matrimonial setting but for me he looked like a full-fledged wedding agency that gave a tough competition! I got to know that middle men take 1.5 lakhs for ‘match-fixing’ 😉 That girls’ side objective is to bring down the wedding expenses while the boys’ side aims to push them up. There is a lot to change and I hope it does, even if it means that marriage bureaus may need to close or change their business model.


The Indian Panorama



  1. […] Source: Chugging through India by Train […]

  2. Observations on Indian society at large. Love those train rides, overnight ones are even better😀.
    I have had co passengers even share dishes, meat cooked in a special way to last two hot days in the train ( I know all the horror stories of eating food offered by strangers, but still could not resist trying out). On a shorter trip, my husband lost his wallet, which had the ticket as well, our co-passengers vouched for our tickets while talking the the TTE. Unparalleled inclusion, hospitality in our spectrum of experience!

    • Some unforgettable experiences indeed!

  3. Wonderful akka. Felt as if I too am traveling with you. Keep posting the vacation diaries 😊

  4. Some Nostalgia on the non people side of it, taking liberty to write them here 🙂

    What about the chai/coffee, butter milk, bhel wala’s :), Filling up water in a train station and running back to catch the train. The breathless anxiety of the kids if the parents come back in time before the train starts !!.

    The whole episode of passengers making way to their seats, adjusting their luggages and introducing themselves
    Ticket collector’s interesting quirks while checking the tickets, kids asking for some paisa after involuntary cleaning.
    Watching those long electric lines hanging through never ending poles, Raliway bridges, buses /lorries waiting across while the train makes the way like a maharaja !!!.
    What about train;s just stopping on the tracks for signals, { does that still happen }
    Middle of the night, quietly open the train door and watch the cold air blow in and count the stars.

    • That inspires me to write another Venugopal 🙂

  5. People .. Their funny side .. hilarious reading 👏👏

    • Glad to know that you enjoyed reading. Microcosm indeed!

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