What to do and what not do – Travelling solo with the Indian Railways

This time I’m not even going to apologize for not posting for so long – I think I made my point clear in my last post here.

So we’ve only just returned to school after a month of joblessness and from the first few days I’m getting the feeling – It’s going to be a good year.
Coming to the title of the post – travelling solo with the Indian Railways is something I’ve been writing about since I can’t even remember when; but I only got the opportunity to experience it last month when I decided to visit my cousins out in Parwanoo, a tiny little hill-town on the border of Himachal and Haryana.
So the rest of this post is a guide for all those people out there who’re wandering the internet looking for someone who might help them prepare for what’s about to come their way.
First of all, I must start by warning all my readers that what I experienced was a Shatabdi and this post will only hold good if you’re travelling by a Shatabdi of some sort. Trains of lesser standard might turn out much horrible as compared to what is described herein.
Now, let’s get straight to it.
1. Book your ticket in advance: If you’re one of those station par mil jaegi sort of people then I advise you to rethink your strategies. The earlier the better, because these days it’s tough to get any train even 2 days before travel. Finally, make sure you book your return ticket as well before leaving – why leave the hassles for later?

2. Travel as light as possible: You don’t want to be the guy with the massive trunk along with a gazillion handbags struggling with his luggage. Trust me, you don’t want all the attention on the platform that it gets you. So treat this as an unbreakable rule whenever you travel – Try to get all the important things you need and your clothes into a neat little duffle bag and then think of anything else you might need. Once you’ve covered all the necessities then try to minimize on any extra stuff.

3. Work on your Human Relations: Nothing is a better way to pass your time during a journey as human company; so don’t just sit tight into your seat oblivious of who’s around and what’s going on. Try to talk to your neighbor or maybe the ones in front of you – who knows, it might just be the best conversation you’ve had your entire life. I’m not discouraging you from carrying any iPods or Laptops or literary material in case you get an annoying 8 year old or a busy as a bee 40-something constantly staring into his BB.

4. Careful with the food: Decide before-hand what you’re going to eat and what you’re not. If you’ve got something with you then eat that first. A lot of times I’ve see people accepting the food that they give you at regular intervals just because they think it’s rude to refuse – It’s not. It’s perfectly fine to say no to the tomato soup before dinner or the vanilla ice-cream after it. And once you get your food, make sure on what you want to eat and what you don’t. The IRCTC gives you almost a hundred little sachets on the plate and it’s better to leave them unopened if you’re not going to consume them.

5. Don’t get off the train: I say this from experience: No one’s going to pull the chain if you’re not back. And then you’re stuck in some city with strange people all around, and no one to ask for help. So let’s avoid all that unwanted mess and keep our selves on the train.

6. Prepare yourself when it’s time to get off : There’s no point stuffing all your books and ear-phones and iPods haphazardly back into your bags just as our destination arrives. Keep everything back well in time and then wait until everybody around you starts getting up and picking up their bags. Then get your entire luggage and wait patiently until the crowd at the door dissipates. That’s your cue to get off.
One final thing I’d like to add is that if you’re a minor then your School ID will work absolutely fine as identity proof and there’s no need to worry in that regard.
So I hope this helped you/gave you some much needed advice/made you regret some of your earlier solo ventures and helped make your train experience a memorable one.
That last line was a bit too cliched but I couldn’t think of a way to end this.

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