In letters from the past: Indian trains

Photo courtesy: Honzasoupup  Wikimedia Commons

As I read letters I wrote to my sister, there’s another gem I had completely forgotten: the pace of Indian trains. I’m sure they’re faster now, but when I was in India in the seventies, they were as slow as peak hour traffic.

Inside an Indian train (Photo: Krokodyl –

We left by train from Jamnagar to Ahmedabad, a distance of 300 kilometres. Having spent the entire day travelling, the train didn’t arrive at our destination until nine in the evening. I spent the journey, reading — even the name of the book, History of India, is mentioned in the aerogramme.

We had first class tickets, though it wasn’t that different from third class except for the all-important fact that your seat was booked for you and you alone. No pushy person would edge a corner of their backside on to your seat the way they often did in third class. No person would be towering over you and bumping against you as the train rattle on its course. This meant my daughters had room to move about in the compartment while the humming fan rotated overhead.

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