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Blog Entry# 3207766
Posted: Mar 16 (07:40)

8 Responses
Last Response: Mar 16 (13:50)
Rail News
Commentary/Human Interest
Mar 16 (05:36)   55 hours on the train through India

moderator*^~   338 news posts
Entry# 3207766   News Entry# 331521         Tags   Past Edits
German Article by Von Clara Maier
In the "Raptisagar Express", which runs from southern India to the north of the country, there is some chaos, fragrant curry is distributed and disposed of waste over the window. But whoever is lucky and gets involved in the enriching conversations experiences the Indian lifestyle very close.
Chai, Chai, Chai! ", Someone shouts through the car and
stops by an Indian in a light blue shirt. He presses the button on the steel kettle, hot milk tea flows into a paper cup. Not five minutes later, "Samosa" calls follow, plunging the compartment into a fragrant cloud of fried food. Before you know it, a passenger holds the filled dumplings in his hand. An Indian train is like a bazaar: everything from curry to leather belts is available. For Indians, rail is considered the most important means of transport, with around five billion passengers being transported each year on one of the largest rail networks in the world.
If you travel from Kochi in the very south to Gorakhpur near the Nepalese border, you can experience the spectacle for two and a half days without a break - just over 3000 kilometers in the "Raptisagar Express".
In Kochi, a cozy artist town on the Indian Ocean, the passengers go short-sleeved and enjoy the wind that blows through the barred, open windows. It is ten o'clock in the morning, with palm landscapes passing by.
At the railway crossings rickety mopeds are waiting close to each other to be allowed to drive on. If the train stops, the "Chair Class" is stormed, because the rule is: first come, sit. Often father, mother and offspring share a place. It is quieter in the couchette cars. Those who do not dare to go to the stuffy fray stand at the door, which is open during the entire journey.
Time and again sellers jump out and passengers in the already worn train. Shortly before midnight, two young men and a woman gather in Chennai - a metropolis on the East Coast that was founded around Fort St. George during the British colonial era. All three wear jeans and casual shirts. Quite unlike the previous passengers, who showed their bellies in colorful saris or wore a classic shirt and suit trousers. Instead of leather bags, the young students carry sporty backpacks, which they chain to the beds with locks. "There are our cameras and lenses in there," says Rasheed. "We are from Mumbai and are traveling by train for a photo project."
The 26-year-old unpacks Mama's snack pack and distributes Aloo Paratha, Indian bread with spicy potato filling, among his friends. The three are joking and teasing each other. "Ami does not need a mosquito spray, she chases away everyone with her stink anyway." For that reaps Rasheed an indignant shock from the side.
Later, the two of them gaze closely at each other on the tablet watching a film, a long way from Indian conventions that allow neither premarital partnerships nor other forms of affection.
Anders Mayur, who joins two cousins ​​of the train company the next morning. He proudly hands over a photo of his fiancee on his smartphone, which he will marry next year. For four years, the two can only see each other under the supervision of parents or gossip on WhatsApp. "She writes a lot," he says. "And I always have to tell her what I'm doing right now."
When he drinks beer with his friend Saurabh, he twists the truth a bit. Otherwise, he is honest and faithful, he says, and the wedding will be the most beautiful in his life. To emphasize this, he shows a video of a relative riding a lushly decorated horse in glittering costume. "That's how I'll look, as colorful as a Christmas tree with you!"
The men who gathered around Mayur laugh. During the eight-hour train ride the group will talk about big city business or talk about nephews who are currently working in Europe. From the daughter who studies in Bangalore or the uncle who has just acquired a property in Jaipur. Some family member is always involved. At the farewell there are warm hugs and family invitations. As if you knew each other forever.
As the sun slowly sets, rice fields and isolated hills pass by, and the train rattles across wide rivers on frighteningly narrow bridges.
Some of the houses on the railroad track look unfinished, others are made of wooden boards or plastic sheeting anyway. Mayur and the men's troop leave the compartment and are replaced by older passengers.
Obese women unwrap large, multi-storey curry jars and spread chapati bread among their relatives - and other passengers. Also accompanying tourists get a bowl of vegetables, which spreads a fragrance of sweet cinnamon and cardamom, bitter turmeric and spicy cumin.

When finished, discard the remains in a plastic bag over the window. Rubbish bins are rarely used in India because "those who dispose of the garbage out of the pails anyway do the same: they throw it off the road, in side streets or rivers," explains Abil, a young artist from nearby Delhi, who in the meantime. He had resigned himself to the fact that there is no garbage collection of a European kind.
Outside, the big garbage mountains are now falling along the tracks, where pigs are wallowing. In the rivers, children swim between plastic barrels and dirt during the day. In a garishly lit station, two dark-skinned girls walk across the tracks and collect plastic bottles in large sacks. "They are paid per piece," explains Abil. The two outside are wearing holey clothes, while most of them in the meantime have pulled on thick sweaters. The beds in the car are gradually folded down, it comes to rest. Some sink into YouTube videos that they listen to with headphones, others gossip softly or look relaxed into the void.
What makes European subway guests nervous after just three stops is perfected with flying colors: idleness and enjoyment. It just jerks a bit. The beds are not the cleanest, but enough upholstered to slow down slowly.
Those who still sleep in Pokhrayan are awakened by the morning bustle at the train station. Newspaper salespeople are shouting over the platform, and someone is pouring mango juice through the bars into the train in a tetrapak. It is six o'clock and the third day begins. Some people brush their teeth in the polluted sanitary facilities or stand at the open door and spit outside as the journey continues. Her eyes sweep over the wide fields that spread to the right and left.
When the next town approaches, barracks pop up and children are playing with them. Behind the dilapidated buildings on the tracks are pompous Buddhist temples like the Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, the Taj-ul-Masajid in his red brick dress in Bhopal or the Chhota Imambara - a bright mausoleum with delicately decorated gates and windows in Luknow usually hard to guess. Time and again, however, the imposing domes and minarets of the mosques or colorful Hindu temples characterize the townscape.
In the afternoon, the train approaches its final destination. The guests, who are still boarding, read or look out the window. New acquaintances almost no longer arise. Outside, fronts of the houses are rising and when the train arrives in Gorakhpur two hours late, the passengers are released into a hectic tumult. In just a few minutes, the train, which has now been used for 55 hours by many different people, is empty. The compartment, which houses the many stories of the past three days, is swept through - and is ready for something new. That's how it is in India. A constant coming and going, a lively, endless bustle.
Information about the train journey in India
Train ride: The Raptisagar Express operates three times a week between Trivandrum Central in Kerala and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The total distance is 3248 km and takes 57 hours. The approach in Kochi is worthwhile for anyone who wants to enjoy the artistic, cozy atmosphere in the coastal city before leaving. Train schedules and ticket info at
Food & Drink: The range of tea, water and various food from Samosa to fresh fruits in the train or at the train stations is large and always sufficient. The train itself also offers hot meals.
Sleep: If you dare to go to the Indian fiesta, buy a sleeper ticket at a local travel agency or directly at the train station, which costs less than 20 euros for the entire route. Between 30 and 50 euros you get an AC ticket in the smaller, air-conditioned compartment.
The author traveled at her own expense.

8 Public Posts - Fri Mar 16, 2018

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