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The interior of the compartment is neat. Well appointed. Clean. The staff is courteous, helpful.
Bang on time, the train begins to move, gradually, imperceptibly picking up speed and momentum, transporting you from departure point to destination with a no-nonsense inevitability.
And then you wake from your dream – and find yourself in a crowd, cacophonous, claustrophobic, second class compartment. Your neighbour’s luggage has somehow wedged itself into the major portion of your seating space. The water pipeline in the toilet has sprung a leak, and there’s a flood happening underfoot. A co-passenger’s brat is bawling its fool head off. And unaccountably, the train that should have been hurtling along from point A to point B is as immobile as an Amrita Sher-Gill still life – and no one knows why.
Welcome, friend, to that great exercise in unpredictability – a train ride courtesy Indian Railways.
And now that you have found your seat and are settled, sort of – look around. And out.
Think of those iron railway tracks as a tracery of veins, carrying you through perhaps one of the most varied, diverse countryscapes you could ever find in the world. And as you hurtle along to the throb of the wheels, the land claims you, takes you into its living, breathing heart – and unfolds the splendours of a land like none other.
Indian Railways. The greatest show, we submit, on earth. And brought to you, in living, breathing detail, in our spanking new section, Great Railway Journeys from Rediff Travel.
Sit back and enjoy the ride, my friend – you will never be the same again.
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