In the last 15 days, I have traveled by the Indian Railways on four occasions (Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad). This is in contrast to the last 15 years, when I had not made a single train journey in India. Almost with a child like curiosity, I boarded each train with an excitement unlike anything I have felt in recent times. I can happily say that my excitement was well justified by the actual journey. Each of the journeys I made revealed some very eclectic characters and landscapes.
I met a young guy traveling from Delhi to Mumbai for the first time for his first every job. He was visibly excited about the prospect of starting an independent life in Mumbai, and at the same time he was sad about leaving his home and dear family members behind.
I also met a mid-age couple who made a trip every 2 months from AP to Mumbai to consult a homeopathy doctor in Mumbai for their kid born with cerebral palsy. This mother had suffered a car accident while she was pregnant and giving birth to the kid was a critical decision they had to make in front of a panel of doctors. The couple decided to give birth and fight for the kids life.
Another train journey brought me in close contact with a radar engineer with the Indian Air Force and his family, who were traveling to Pune to ensure their daughter gets settled in her new educational institutions.
Given the length of the journey, one has ample opportunity to meet a diverse set of people in the train. This environment cannot be recreated in other forms of long distance transport, be it Air or Road.