Durga Prasad

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Durga Prasad

Durga Prasad This looks like an awesome trip. Train journeys in India are always surreal and blows your mind. Having been on many such journeys over many years I would advise the following for first time travellers -

1. Take 'extra' care of your belongings!! Theft is common place. Petty thiefs abound in the 'passenger' compartments.

2. Get ready for stares. As somebody already mentioned , take out ur camera and start taking pics. Gr8 way to ease the 'staring' scenario.

3. Get acquainted/strike up a conversation with some local 'educated' Indians on the trains. Usually seen with a newspaper/magazine/thriller/(even with a Harvard Business Review publication sometimes!!). U will get to know a lot more things about India which has not been documented elsewhere.

4. Be ready for delays. Indian trains are notorious for not adhering to the schedule. I would suggest keeping some buffer time in your schedule so that you do not rush into anxious situations.
Note: IST -> Indian Stretchable Time :)

5. Have some basic medicines while you travel. (Stomach upset- Food is spicy in most parts of India, though the train food is less spicy and Flu and Body Pain, etc)

6. Essentials, in case you venture out - Sunscreen lotions, caps, sun glasses unless you really want to get tanned!!

7. Be ready to be blown away by the variety of culture, people with different languages , different looks etc for every few hundred kilometers.

8. Most of the people in the AC compartments speak reasonable English, so striking up a conversation is not an issue. In fact, most of the locals are eager to know more about your country, culture, your travel philosophy as to why you are travelling in India(yes, travel philosophy!!). I remember myself asking naive questions to foreign travellers when I was a kid.

9. On a small note,(Only for smokers) -> Smoking is not permitted on trains. But, as always, there is the quintessential toilet to indulge in a bit of tobacco fix! If not in the AC compartment, you can enter the Sleeper compartments' toilet and let out the smoke thru' the windows. I have done this!! (Mind you, toilets will be messy :()

For the ladies -
1. Moderate dressing is recommended. You do not have to be cover yourself in burqa to hide, but at the same time shorts, a little cleavage are a no-no. Jeans, local salwars, kurta , are pretty easy items to wear and should be fine.

2. Majority of travellers on trains are male. So there might be a bit of the 'staring' thing happening(sometimes even from local women).

3. As mentioned earlier, any chance you get to strike up an intellectual/spiritual conversation with a well-groomed person, do it. You will not regret it. If you find a female , all the better, you might get some fine-tuned pointers.

All in all, an Indian trip is always memorable and will add a new dimension to your understanding of the world.
You would want to come back again and again. Its been long since I went on such a trip in India. Hell yeah, if possible, i can even join you guys on this trip!

Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Many thanks Prasad. hope you can make it.
I have been monitoring the trains we will be catching using trainenquiry and a program to read/check them regularly. We've also spent a lot of time selecting premium./reliable trains. Even with fog, derailments, monsoons and the bandh, we'd have got through it. (the tragedy on the uttar banga would have caused problems).
We are also making sure we dont have to eat train food for 2 solid weeks, and that we get to wash every time we get off the train.
Note there is 1AC on 65% of the route, which has a shower in the loo, so with a little baksheesh if you are really desperate to wash those armpits and have a shampoo I'm sure it can be done.

4 years ago
Durga Prasad
Durga Prasad Yep. Baksheesh is the way to go!! It will be awesome to join this trip exploring the North-Eastern part which I have nvr been to. If I mk it to India from Aus during this period, I will definitely join this trip. Cheers.
4 years ago
Mark_Lester
Mark_Lester The Assam section is the really cool part where virtually no one has been to. It's also the only bit where I have to make special advance arrangements for catering and sleeping, so please let me know beforehand if you are going to parachute in at NJP or Guwahati to join us. But do join us, start working on your vacation details asap!.
4 years ago
Todd
Todd Thanks so much for that info Durga. I've passed it on to a few of the woman travellers especially. We too are from Australia (3 or 4 of us here), but Lauren and I are visiting Montreal, Canada, at the moment. It would be great if you could join. The GCIRC is becoming a bit of an institution before it's even started. :)
4 years ago
Lauren
Lauren Thanks a lot for those tips Durga! I've also read somewhere else that it's a good idea for women to buy a couple of salwar kameez sets to help blend in a bit more. Mark/Durga why have not many ppl been to the Northern/Assam region? I think I need to start researching India a bit more considering I don't know. Do you have any reading/film/doco suggestions? Tx!
4 years ago
Mark_Lester

Mark_Lester Shalwar Kameez's are bloody brilliant. They are ideal for keeping cool, figuratively and literally. IN theory the grilies should be wearing the lady version, patternedgirly top and rectangular edges to the short bottoms, and the boys monochrome. But that's ott imo, but you might see one that takes your fancy. if not just get a couple of boys ones each. I always wear the pants anyway.

Assam always used to be special permit territory. India north western and eastern borders have been suspect to wars with pakistan and china respectively.
Now only Arunachal itself (which we wont be visiting, the train we get is a misnomer) needs a permit, and maybe some other border states/districts.
But apart from eco-tourism which is starting up, there arent the usual set piece sight seeing ops that litter the rest of the country.
Despite it's popularity, outside of certain major tourist traps you actually dont see that many travelers in India even today, cos it's bloody enormous.
There are terrorists in assam, but there are terrorists in the whole of India, Asia, and hey, I live in/near London, we're expecting a large bomb to go off any day now!

4 years ago
Durga Prasad
Durga Prasad Lauren, Assam & the other north-eastern states hv been over-shadowed by the big boys of Ind tourism like Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan, Delhi/Agra etc. The Maoist(read extremist) situation & the border dispute b/w neighboring nations further degraded their tourism potential. But this region is as geographically gorgeous as d other wellknown ones! It's worth going there. After all, it's all about taking the road less travelled!
4 years ago
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Durga Prasad

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