Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Funny Indian Train Journeys

Indian train journeys and humour go hand in hand. If you don’t have the ability to take all the drama, chaos and the madness with a pinch of salt, you probably shouldn’t travel by a train in India. That said, I would like to acknowledge that travelling on a train in India is an experience. 

I recently asked on my Facebook fanpage that what’s the most annoying thing about Indian trains and I got rave responses. Anybody who has experienced travelling on a train in India has something interesting to share:



No doubt, Indian railways are amusing.

Note: All images in this post are sourced from Google. 

I have been travelling on trains since my childhood, so I am used to them and have a bundle of stories to narrate. Here they are in random order -   
   
I reach the train station and discover that the train is cancelled – It’s the most recent incident, which was horrifying when it happened. But now, it’s a funny memory. I had a reservation in Mahananda Express (I wasn’t aware that it had a bad reputation) and I had to travel from Siliguri to New Delhi. As soon as I reached the station, I could sense a chaos. People had queued up at the ticket counters. Everybody murmured that the train was cancelled. Although dismayed, I still went up to the TT to find out what had actually happened. He confirmed that the train was cancelled (with no trace of empathy). Further, when I asked him if there was an alternative, his response left me even more dejected. He said, “NJP jao aur dekhlo agar kahin jagah mil jati hai tou” (go to NJP railway station and check if you can find a seat in any train).


A sari-clad woman slips inside a train through the window – Thankfully, I didn’t have to travel by this train. My brother and I were standing on the other side of this insanely jam-packed train, which had people literally crammed like luggage in the coaches. There was at least a bunch hanging at the door. We thought we had never seen such a crazy sight. But, we had something better in store – in the midst of all the chaos, we saw a man pushing a sari-clad woman inside the train through its window. Can you imagine it?


A man gets his wallet stolen and is reprimanded by his wife - I had never witnessed a pickpocket case before. It was so bad. As the train departed the station, there was a bit of a chaos on the train. Everybody was busy settling down. Suddenly, somebody raised an alarm that his back pocket was cut and his wallet was stolen. The poor guy appeared to be so shocked and dismayed. On top of that, his wife rebuked him (harshly) for his carelessness while all the passengers looked on.

Keeping lots of cash in your back pocket on a busy train in India – he pretty much deserved the rebuke of his wife (though I felt bad for him). I hope he learned the hard lesson the hard way.


I almost miss my train – I was supposed to catch a train from Old Delhi Railway Station to Dehradun. I got stuck in a bad traffic. By the time I reached the station, the train had begun to move. I ran after it in vain. I thought I would manage to get on it. But, my brother, who was with me, stopped me from doing so (he thought I was acting like a Hindi film heroine). After the train had left, a couple of cops advised me to catch it from the next station. So, my brother and I quickly took an auto and reached the next station where the train had stopped for only two minutes. I got on the train and heaved a sigh of relief.

I realized Delhi cops were not all that bad!


A man sleeps under the lower birth – Travel agents make a great deal of money when we don’t book our tickets in time. I, too, had to book my tickets via a travel agent when I had to travel from Delhi to Hyderabad a couple of months back. When I boarded the train, I found nine people in my compartment instead of eight. I kept wondering where the ninth man would settle down when it’s time to sleep. Well, I found him making his bed underneath the lower birth.

Anything can happen on a train in India.

Although I don’t enjoy train journeys anymore, I believe they have added a significant value to my life as a traveller. Train journeys in India exude a lot of character. The stories and adventures that happen on the trains are unparalleled. I don’t think you can experience much on a plane or at an airport.

Have you experienced a train journey in India? Do you have a funny memory or any interesting incident to share?


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32 comments:

  1. The trains in India are always a funny thing! One time in sleeper class, I woke up and 2 men were sitting on the foot of my bed & two more were leaning against it.. others were watching me sleep - then I couldn't fall back asleep!

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    1. I can imagine that! Traveling on a sleeper class is totally out of the question now. Even the AC coaches are so funny.

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    2. Sleeper class travel is even unsafe for men !

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    3. Well, maybe. It is totally unsafe for women to travel by the sleeper class. It used to be fine a few years back, but now nobody should do it in the present conditions.

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  2. Haha, sounds like you've had some interesting experiences! I've never been a long distance on a train in India, but I loved taking the train around Mumbai! I loved hanging out of the doors as the train was speeding along and feeling the wind in my hair :)

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    1. Yup, Mumbai trains are good for feeling the wind in your hair. :) But they are the most chaotic ones also!

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  3. how awesome are trains? Some of the expensive trains in India look sooooooooo opulent! great post!

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    1. Yeah, the opulent ones are too opulent and the poor ones are too poor! The contrast is amazing! :)

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  4. I haven't experienced any trains in India, but I'm fascinated by those images you posted. It's crazy how luxurious some of those cabins are. I've never seen anything like that before. And then comparing those cabins with the jam-packed trains...what a difference!

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    1. That's right, Justine. The contrast is what I have tried to depict through these images. :) I really want to experience traveling on a luxury train now. I have had my fair share of crazy experiences!

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  5. A slice of Indian life on the trains. Nice post Renuka.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it is a slice of Indian life. :)

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  6. He he.. The trains are funny indeed. I had a friend who would go 5hrs later than the designated time to board a train and everytime I asked him why he does that, he would say that he was sure he would never miss a train and in fact he would wait for another 3 Hrs before boarding the train.. Ideally he was 3Hrs early by being 5Hrs late!!!

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    1. Oh! Good for him, but I have never been so lucky with trains. I mean I have caught so many trains at the eleventh hour!

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  7. I would love to experience the trains in India one day! Pushing your wife through an open window on the train...now that is funny! I may have to try this with my wife on our next trip ;)

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    1. Greg, you really made me laugh out loud! :D Yes, please do experience traveling on a train in India. It would be fun and adventurous.

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  8. I have been travelling extensively in Indian Railways in the last 8 years, can share a thousand stories with you, positive and negative. Have lost slippers (try imagining!) and a very expensive phone but have also known people meeting up to end up marrying too. Talking your way out with TTs and what not?
    But one thing, a journey in Indian Rly never fails to amuses me...! :D

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    1. Oh wow! You should thank Indian trains for giving you your life partner! :) Yeah. losing slippers can be horrifying. That's why I always keep an eye on my shoes even when I am sleeping.

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  9. I love train journeys .. you meet so many people and i have always had some sort of experiences always .. reminds me of our summer vacation when we had to travel by kalka mail from chandigarh to Kolkatta took three days and you can imagine the amount of fun we had over the journey :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Yeah, I can imagine! In fact, train journeys should always have lots of people. It becomes so much more fun. I remember i celebrated my birthday on train with a large group. It was fun!

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  10. Interesting post and images. I love train journeys, especially the ones that last 2-3 days.

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    1. Oh my....you like 2-3 days on a train?! That's amazing! I only like Shatabdi chair car experiences where I am served tea and snacks, and I reach my destination in 5-6 hours.

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  11. Train journeys can be funny and painful too..especially in the sleeper class..... the nauseating smell from toilets !!

    But I remember one of my friends , a very prank-loving one....while travelling he noticed small boards at the toilet doors of the train which read " Indian Style" and " Western Style"....with a chalk or something ..he wrote " Gangnam Style " ..:-D

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    1. Gangnam style! What's that?! :) Right, sleeper class is bad these days. Toilets are not good even in the AC coaches.

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  12. I am not a show off but I have always traveled by the sleeper class. Why? saves me a lot of money to spend in the trip. :P A humorous write up indeed. Slipping in through window is so common. Seen it so many times. :P :)

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    1. Thanks Datta :) No, it's not about being show off. Sleeper class has deteriorated so much these days that I don't dare to travel by it. Otherwise who wouldn't want to save money? :) Yeah, that weird window entry must be common, but I saw it only once. It was hilarious! :D

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  13. Interesting one .... have been travelling on train since childhood and yes its a experience ....so many memories of the journey ... from farting passenger to annoying aunties , mrg proposal to break ups .... have so many interesting and humorous stories ;)

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    1. Haha! Yeah, annoying aunties and uncles, and also wailing kids! There is so much of buzz on Indian trains!

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  14. Ha ha - great post - loved it! and yes- amazing contrasts in those pics..! I have taken local train in Mumbai- and was fine with it. Think I was prepared for the Worst- so I am pleasantly surprised (but not in rush hour though) Still would like to do long-distance train in India. In general I like that slow way of traveling - just sitting there and the world passes by your windows...:-)

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    1. Yup, traveling on a nice, comfy train would be an ideal way to experience slow travel. But, I guess, Indian trains are getting worse and worse. And yes, Mumbai locals are maddening during the rush hour!

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  15. Trains are the best way to get around India - you see and experience so much, and meet so many different people!! Love it!

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    1. True! Indian trains are unique. As I mentioned, they can be troublesome, but have loads of stories and adventures too!

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