Riding the Train

Riding the Train


A journey by train in India is a great way of getting around and in my experience it’s also very cheap, so on a holiday it helps to make the money go further while allowing you to see a lot more of the varied countryside.

Indian Railways is very efficient when it comes to booking tickets as well, and in the north there often was a separate window for foreigners to use at very busy stations. If you book in advance…..and that’s to be recommended….you will also appear on the list that’s posted on the side of each carriage, though sometimes the booking clerk has trouble with non-Indian names. For overnight services……and as it’s a big country, the chances are that your journey will be, at least in part, taken in the dark……each station has an allocation of berths. On a number of runs in the north of India I have arrived to find that the station has sold out of its allocation, but on boarding the train the TC will often be able to find an empty berth.

So polite are Indian families that they rarely tell you that you are sitting in one of their reserved seats, something I did on a journey from Chittorgarh when I first travelled by train in India. When one family discovered that I was an art teacher, I was asked to draw the children. Not an easy job on a rocking and rolling train.

Meeting people is what travel in India is all about. Travelling companions are sometimes very direct. “Where you from – What your name – How much you earn”. In the south of India, people seem to be less nosey.

Today’s photo was taken on the journey we took from Kannur in Kerala to Margao in Goa, and this very scruffy local train was running briefly alongside ours as we approached Bahtkal.



16 thoughts on “Riding the Train

  1. Much thanks for sharing the information on train travel in India. It sound like a great way to travel and to see more. I also like you photo. Are you teaching art in India? If so where and at what level? Sorry to be nosey but my wife Jane Ingram Allen is an artists and we have traveled to many places in the world doing artist residencies.

    • An interesting line of thought Allen, and though I have visited the art college in Panjim and have given an impromptu talk to students, I regret that I have never considered doing any teaching there. While in Kannur through February we visited the studio of an artist and see that the standard of skill and work can be high, and I should think that, with a growing middle class, there is an expanding market both for teaching and selling art work. Also some time ago I visited a printmaking studio in Bhopal that rents out well equipped studio space to artists for a minuscule rent.

      So, yes, there are opportunities.

  2. That is quite a scruffy train…so much character there. I’m enjoying your narratives very much, John…I’ll likely never get to these places, so it’s very nice to have your insight and experience shared with your photos.

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