From the Journals...Indian Train Ride from Ambala to Jammu. November 14, 1989

October 29, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


We started out in a dingy, smokey waiting room, but soon discovered an empty refreshment room. So here we sit, waiting for dinner. The birds in the rafters of the station are making a racket. Hitchcock material. This room is not much better as far as smoke goes, but the air outside for most of the way has been smokey. I suppose one gets used to this, I hope.

Up to this point I would have rated the quality and on-time performance of the Indian trains as better than the African trains. That all changed tonight! I have never had a more miserable ride in my life.

Once we finally found our car at the station, a 2nd Class 3-tier “sleeper”, the conductor had to pull people from the doorway so that we could squeeze on. We were at the wrong end of the car, and had to haul (no room to wear) our packs down the narrow aisle and over the bodies and baggage strewn about. Once we got the our berths, we had to convince the 4 people occupying them that we had reservations and that they would have to move. 

Crowds, Train, India, "Indian Railways", TransportationAll Aboard! Both of us were in top berths, and the 90℉ heat and humidity were even more pronounced. Our packs were in the berths with us, so we didn’t have room to stretch out, only to lie in awkward positions and try to avoid the feet of others resting on our bunk. They didn’t have compartments, but in our area of 8 berths where there should have been 8 people, I counted 22, and who knows how many I couldn’t see!

This train, of course, didn’t leave on time, and remained stationary for 45 minutes, leaving us to lie in our sweat with no ventilation. Also, the fans were not working, and the only windows were down below. It really sucked.

A couple of times during the night, each of us woke up to find 2 or 3 additional people in our bunks who had to be evicted just so we could have a little room to move. Personal space doesn’t seem to be an issue with these people.

It was a long night with numerous delays, resulting in prolonging our discomfort for 1-1/2 hours. We finally arrived, very cramped and unrested, in Jammu at 8:30 am.

We had been thinking that we should change our plans and spend the night in Jammu to rest. After seeing Jammu, we decided to push on to Srinagar.


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