A group of software engineers based in Bangalore embark on the longest official train journey, connecting the Northeast to south India, and make friends from different states along the way
In this day and age, where speed is often the key and time is at a premium, most people make whirlwind trips on business to other states or countries, opting for the quickest modes of transport, and opt for sightseeing during the holidays.
One would think that one of the oldest and trusted modes of transport, the railways may be losing favour, especially when it comes to longer distances, due to factors of time and convenience.
However, a team of youngsters, who term themselves ardent fans of the Indian Railways, have embarked on a rather historic journey, 4243 kms long and over 82 hours in duration. It is nothing but their passion for railway journeys that motivated them to make this trip.
"We all are fascinated by the sights we encounter while making train journeys as children.
While many outgrow that fascination over time, my passion for train journeys has only grown over the years. I happened to chance upon this forum on the web which had ardent railway fans discussing their favourite journeys, the technical aspects of each train and everything else related to the Indian Railways, and immediately became a member," says T Sathyanarayanan, an IT analyst.
It is through the forum that Sathyanarayanan got in touch with two other like-minded rail aficionados, and they started making short rail trips to remote locations in the outskirts of Bangalore.
However, the urge to visit totally unexplored locations and witness nature in it's beauty lured them to make longer trips.
They witnessed the River Brahmaputra in full flow, and made it upto Lower Haflong, the only hill in Assam. They slept on the platform in Lumding, as they admittedly felt the safest within the railway confines in the troubled state. "We were surrounded by a swarm of army personnel in Assam, and it is very difficult to find any mode of transport, or life on the streets beyond 6 pm in the evening there. While the people were undoubtedly warm and accommodating, the terrorist attacks in the past have made the region insecure," says an exultant Francis Bosco, a senior aerospace engineer and the youngest member of the team.
While they encountered their fair share of difficulties during the journey, with many unscheduled stops and the food served during the Northeastern leg of the journey leaving much to be desired, the experience was well worth it. "We made several friends from different walks of life, had Indian Railway fan club members from other states coming in at odd hours to meet us, saw nature in it's purest form through the journey, and felt at home once we touched south India," Sathyanarayanan reveals. The team also had a sapling planted as they touched Kanyakumari, marking the significance of this historical journey.
While it will be back to their day jobs, the group has already started planning for their next trip already. "We intend to travel to the peaks of Assam that we couldn't explore due to the recent landslide, and will also be meeting at the next railway convention," Harisharan signs off.