I have been traveling by long distance trains ever since I was a toddler, and yet I still enjoy it. Given a choice between a two hour flight, and a 36 hour train journey, I’ll always opt for the latter; with the assumption of course, that I do have the time and money to do so.
The reasons are numerous. The beautiful landscape for starters. I can spend hours standing at the door just staring away at the landscape. The second is the wide choice of food options I get to savor on a train. For a tea lover like me, a long distance journey offers different versions of tea :- for e.g. the utterly useless tea bags offered by the railway pantry caterers, the waterish but masala flavored chaa of Western India (read: Gujarat), the elaichi flavored chai as you move towards central and north india, and last but not the least, the plain and simple hot milkish tea offered in southern states.
But apart from all this, what is so enriching are the different types of people you find traveling along with you. Ideally the best way to experience the same is to travel second class, as in most AC compartments the people just completely shut off themselves from others, preferring to spend the time sleeping or reading. But once in a while, you find this highly interesting personality who makes up your day completely. As I did a few weeks back, while traveling from Mumbai to Chennai for the Diwali holidays.
He was a young 8 month old software engineer working in Wipro Pune. Let me call him Vijay, after the tamil movie star Vijay (he kinda looked like him). Having boarded the train at Pune around 12 in the night, Vijay spent the first half of the journey sleeping away to glory. It was after lunch, when he switched on his laptop, he became of interest to me. After taking permission (to play music) from the rest of us, Vijay started playing videos of popular tamil movie songs. For the next odd hour or so, he was a sight to behold, as he got completely enthralled in the music. With his feet tapping, his fingers snapping in the air and his head shaking in rhythm with the songs, if only I could have provided him an open floor, Vijay would have joyfully performed the complete dance moves right there itself. As for me, I was ruing the absence of a camera to take a video of him.
Get him to do the same on a flight. You’ll never see this side of Vijay.
Indian Railways rocks!