Jumping on a Train in India

Written by Marco Morawec

Topics: Featured, Travel Advice, Travel Planning

Everything in India is bamboozling: from the number of people and hustlers around you to the simple fact of boarding a train.

That’s exactly what I did for the very first time in my life in India: get on a stupid train. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well it isn’t when 2000 people want to jump on the very same train at the same moment.

But before I even got close to my train I ignored all but 30 touts around the train station blocking my way with voluntary but commission based advice on where to buy their overpriced train ticket. Man, I felt like screaming: “Get out of my way, the German Tank is coming through!” But this is New Delhi with 12 times more people living just here than in all of the Hawaiian Islands. So people gave as much shit about me as they give to the many knee high piles of real shit lying in many of the street corners.

I finally managed to buy my own ticket and shook off the 20 or so beggars who grabbed my arm for attention. Really, how often can you say “Let go of my arm and no I am not an ATM machine!” before you think about running as fast as you can?

Next up was the guy trying to reach into my front pocket to steal my wallet while I was lifting my backpack onto the security scanner. Fortunately he was out of luck too – I slapped him hard on his hand and he got the message. I have to give the guy credit for his ingenious timing though, starting his pick-pocket show right when both my hands where busy lifting my backpack. Nice try buddy!

And that’s when my luck ended! I was making wrong decisions hard and fast.

The advice I received on where my train wagon would be located on the platform was wrong – or did I misinterpret the famous Indian head wooble? Maybe it’s the 40 degree heat in Delhi that slows my mind down so much. Everyone is staring at the white guy with his backpack, but do I really care? I don’t.

Ah shucks, here comes the train and I’m at the wrong end of the platform. Great call Marco, really. The second old guy that gave me head wobble directions was right after all!

Now I had to get to the right end of the platform fast. Easier said then done! If you ever want to feel like going against the flow and do your own thing, try fighting your way against 2000 Indians to the other end of the platform. It’s great exercise.

Once on the train in the right compartment I ran into more trouble. I couldn’t negotiate the family of four crowding on my seat willing to share some space but unwilling to leave my seat until they reached their destination three hours later. Well, so I shared and tried to teach the little daughter how to blink with one eye after another.

Right after the family left I got another visitor who didn’t care about me being in my seat at all and happily explained that he is going to charge his two cell phones on the power plugs. Obviously that means sharing my seat with me as well while the phones charged. Never mind that his feet where smelling like a good aged Swiss cheese.

I have no idea what else this 14 hour long train ride to Varanassi will bring with it, but it sure as he’ll is a bamboozling experience so far.

India you are awesome – bring it on!

But please don’t let the AC break! The last two nights trying to sleep at 35 degrees plus where sweaty enough.

Ever had a great train ride experience? Share it in the comments.

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6 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Scott says:

    Wow, quite the experience it seems like, and that was just getting on the damn train!. So, how was the ride?

    • Marco Morawec says:

      Hey Scott, the ride turned out to be pretty good after the cell phone guy left – I could sleep and welcome the sunrise through the train window. Wonderful!

      Tonights I will have to kick it up a notch when trying to fall asleep in the general class where everyone is usually stacked on top of each other. Wish me luck – I need it :)

  2. Odysseus says:

    I’m pretty sure that in India and China, the bottom bunk is always considered the “common area” on the train. That’s part of the reason I always buy the top bunk bed! Interested in reading about your experiences in Varanasi. The beggars were horrible when I was in India, but at least no one tried to pickpocket me.

    • Marco Morawec says:

      Aloha! I totally agree with you, always get the top bunk :)
      Yup the attention a backpacker attracts in India is immense. I guess it shows you how some superstars have to live everyday LOL!

  3. james says:

    what class were you riding? i always bought second class sleeper (upper bunk) and never had plugs. Heck, the light switches hardly ever worked.

    i could go for a train chai right now.

    • Marco Morawec says:

      Aloha James, I was lucky to mostly have a bunk bed with AC for those 14 hours train journeys. The one time I had to reschedule a trip due to food poisoning, I could only get a non-ac bunk bed, which wasn’t that much fun because it was 110 Fahrenheit inside the wagon.

      Train Chai sounds good!

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