5 Sept 2012

I’m aboard the Kota Pnbe Exp from Agra to Varanasi. My first of many train rides in India, I sit not on my berth but in the corridor between the cars, the door wide open and my feet dangling out over the tracks as we roll by the green fields on a cool, cloudy day. There is a man next to me, I think he is asleep.

I see:

lush green fields – of rice?

salesman: chaiiiii! chaiiii! chaiiiii!

heaps – no, mountains – of trash

a brick factory

a polluted pastoral, to my dismay

white-topped grasses blowing in the wind

lotus water-lily’s in the canals



black burkas

slums built from tarps

timid Indian kids watching me from their berths

fields of yellow flowers

a man – a sadhu? – sitting beside me – asleep?


Tips for train travel in India:

Get an account at Cleartrip.com – it is enormously helpful

Purchase tickets two weeks in advance of your travel date

Take sleeper class for shorter trips during the day – the glass windows can lift up, providing a great view of the countryside

Take AC 2 or 3 tier for longer trips – less noise, less traffic in the middle of the night, more trustworthy people

If you have to buy tickets on the day of your trip, buy a 2nd class unreserved at the station and then board the train in an AC class car. Find the TT (ticket man) and tell him you want to upgrade. He’ll find you a berth – but this won’t work if you aren’t traveling solo.