When it comes to busy places, there is no competing with India. It’s insane. Click on this video from Youtube and you will get a glimpse of what I’m talking about.
Below, I have decided this week to include an unreleased sneak preview from my upcoming memoir, “Rusty Tracks and Booby Traps”. It’s from volume 3 in my Sihpromatum Series which explores the adventures of our family of six as we travel the globe for four years to 80 countries. In “Rusty Tracks and Booby Traps” we spend more than 400 hours on third class Indian trains (like the one in the video above) as well as other modes of local transport, digging in and discovering one of the most vast, diverse and spectacular countries in the world.
“A ten-hour journey by train brought us to Mumbai, previously called Bombay before it’s name change in 1995. We knew our next train departed in five hours but we needed to brave an intercity train from Mumbai Central Station station to get to the correct station to take us to Delhi on an overnighter. I reeled back, shocked. Like great, snaking behemoths, trains pulled into the station one after another, squealing on their tracks. It’s a noise I’ll never get out of my brain.The earth shaking, the platform quaking, the rumbling and screeching as the trains made their ingress and egress.
The low hollow timbre of an approaching train’s whistle magnified into an orchestra of sound, growing and growing into a torrent, assaulting me as it raced below.
Shoulder to shoulder crowds were nothing new to us in India, we’d been here three months already, but this was the first time I thought I was going to be trampled to death. Just getting down the steep staircase to reach the platform was a mission that required courage and physical strength, involving grabbing the shoulders of strangers to pull myself forward through the ocean of bodies. My feet left the ground as I was pinched between men on all sides. Unlike busy local markets, this was a tense, almost panicked crowd, each person fighting to get on the next train.
Checking tickets or persons on Bombay intercity trains was impossible. People were more akin to insects and swinging monkeys as they grabbed ahold of the attached metal bars and doors on the outside of each train.
The trains were divided by gender, a welcome relief, as the female-only compartments were far less crowded yet no less chaotic.
Like a kid stuffing the entire contents of his dirty room into his closet, those on the outsides of the doors physically shoved the people from behind so the doors would be able to close. That worked, but only when there were doors. Most were open and doorless, the train didn’t even stop before people leapt onto the moving metal pythons. The horrendous roar coming in on nine tracks left me visually stunned in my flip flops, witnessing bodies leaping from train to platform, pouring out as trains attempted to come to a brief halt.
Every couple of minutes a population wave of people would charge for the doors. I wondered, were they so jam packed because the people within the train were never given the chance to exit? And how many were held inside against their will?
I took a deep breath and, along with the rest of the commuters, took a running start and dove over the crowd to access the train. Inside, quickly I locate my family members and I look out the bars where there should be a window. Outside there were dozens of desperate zombies clinging to the bars and sides as the train exits the station.”
I have enjoyed sharing this pre-release snippet from my upcoming book and can’t wait to share the rest with you in 2018.
Check out some of our pictures of other “busy places” in India below then join our live Twitter chat “The Road Less Travelled” starting from 1pmNYC/6pmUK. Search the hashtag #TRLT to find us and don’t forget to include the hashtag #TRLT in your tweets to participate with fellow travellers! You can find me each and every week hosting with my fellow travellers Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries), Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie”) and Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel).
Categories: Savannah Grace