Taking The Train Through India

by Brenna Holeman

The Train From New Delhi to Jaisalmer, India

I had heard a lot about travelling through India before I even set foot in the country myself; I am always wary of these stories and warnings, as people sometimes exaggerate or take stories for their own. Of course, for me, some of the stereotypes turned out to be very, very true: you WILL see a human defecating on the street, you WILL be nearly run over by a cow at least once in each city, you WILL find the very best masala chai you’ve ever had, you WILL cite your time in India as “life-changing”. I was lucky enough to bypass two of the most common stereotypes about travelling in India, however: you WILL get sick and you WILL curse the day you ever set foot on an Indian train.

So no, I didn’t get sick in India, and no, I didn’t hate the trains; it was quite the opposite, in fact. I loved the long train rides through the countyside, passing by villages, waving at children, watching the sun set behind mountains I didn’t know the names of. I snacked on spicy samosas and drank endless cups of steaming hot chai; I read books by Mulk Raj Anand or the English newspaper that cost 3 rupees; I traded bangles with women wearing saris of saffron and fuchsia and jade; I talked with the group of travellers I was fortunate to be with; I very, very easily passed the hours.

And, like clockwork, as the train made its final leg toward my destination, I felt that familiar feeling in my stomach, that slight ache in my heart: I don’t want to get off the train, I don’t want this to end. I’ve always surprised myself for feeling this way, but it happens every time, even after an arduous trip.

Alas, further proof that life, and travel, is about the journey, not the destination.

My India from This Battered Suitcase on Vimeo.

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renee July 4, 2012 - 8:08 pm

We traveled by train from Kolkata to New Delhi (I think), and that was after a flight from Dhaka to Kolkata. So the 13 hour train ride seemed extra long.
I did thoroughly enjoy looking out the windows and watching the countryside coast by: wide fields dotted with bright villages.
And I didn’t get sick in India, well I did, but from exhaustion, not anything else.
p.s. I love the idea of trading bangles with women you met. I’m too shy to do so myself, but it makes me happy to think of you doing so!

Audrey | That Backpacker July 5, 2012 - 12:32 am

I feel the same way about not wanting train journeys to end. I can’t get tired of it, especially when the landscape is constantly changing. I’m always a bit sad to have to gather my things once I’ve reached my destination.

Jessie July 5, 2012 - 4:55 am

This makes me wish I were back in India so bad! I guess I can understand how some people would not like trains in India, but like you I loved it when I lived there. Maybe not every single ride, but definitely the majority. I found them so relaxing. Like you said the views of the villages and sunsets were priceless. This literally brought tears to my eyes, thank you!

This Battered Suitcase July 5, 2012 - 5:59 pm

Renee – It’s totally different when you are utterly exhausted even before you start the journey!! And yes, trading bangles was really fun. I try to always have a few little things like that to trade if the moment arises!

Audrey – Yes! I’m glad that someone feels the same way. I was never that kid that said, “Are we there yet?”

Jessie – Oh, thank you! I’m glad you liked this post. It’s so amazing that you lived in India; you must have had some truly memorable experiences.

liveletlive July 7, 2012 - 4:48 pm

great post. I cant wait to go to India…sigh. until then I’m just going to live through your posts 🙂

This Battered Suitcase July 7, 2012 - 5:18 pm

Liveletlive – Thanks! I hope you get to go to India soon…it is a truly amazing country.


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