Der Führer: Day 6 – Delhi


Well we got to Delhi on the Uttar Sampark Kranti, despite the silly sod of a conductor who tried to ruin it all. I was going to name and shame him, with a photo to boot, but as he’s got a heck of a sight more to lose than I have on this so I’ve forgiven him, and after all it’s given John full deity status and everyone else anecdotal blog fodder. The other expletive deleted aint got no website though.

Captain Shakti
Our Hero: John “Captain Shakti” Hasted

Next issue was my need to communicate the fact that I’ve had enough of providing such a disparate range of budgets with washing facilities. what it takes to organise and run something like this, and the fact that I’m not making a solitary bean out of the whole thing, quite the reverse in fact. Anyway, I put on my ruthless dictator hat when we hit the platform. We’ll have to see how far the message went in as I doubt many of them understand a word I say, colonial types rarely can decipher Oldhamese.
After a quick shower I then had to dash out to get a new sim card. Not sure what the heck has gone wrong with the Mumbai one, I’ll discuss that on Indiamike when I get back if you really need to know about that.
A minor spin off from this excursion to the Vodafone shop was getting to see some massive trade union demo round Connaught Place (well I said minor), and also scoffing down two sausage and egg McMuffins, which is cheating I know but I deserve it.
After a second more thorough visit to the shower, it was then time again to climb on-board. New Delhi station is humongous, and of course our platform was right at the opposite end of the station, so we all bustled our way over the bridge to platform 16, and the glorious luxury of the Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express. All the food is free on here, and they come round with chai and water and even biscuits. A couple of gin and tonics would be nice, but you cant have everything.
Been on this for 10 hours now, only another 30 to go!. All the photographers have crashed out so I’ll tart up this post with some flicks later.

A bit later …..
Actually, you’ll probably have to wait a few days for photos. We are about to hit Assam and despite the promises that our pre-paid sim cards will work, I am informed by someone I trust a lot more than a Vodafone sales rep that there’s no way it will. So the next you’ll hear will be from Darjeeling on Saturday.

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Der Führer: Day 5 – Udhampur


“Everything is going to plan”, your glorious leader said in his last post. Famous last words if ever there were.
Got into Udhampur ahead of schedule. As predicted, there were several trains running late that we would have been daft to book beforehand but were all but certain to arrive late enough into Jammu Tawi for us to catch up the hill.
And so we arrived at the northernmost trip of the connected network. We then piled into two large Qualis taxis up the hill to the prearranged wash stop. All fine and dandy thus far.
There was no mains electricity in Udhampur “they are doing some work on the electricity today”, and so there was no hot water. Some of us are happy to go through the thrill of chucking a few jugs of cold water over themselves. Others had to stay dirty for a bit longer.
Udhampur is a small place off the normally beaten tourist track, and I guess it was a lot smaller before the railway came up here 10 years ago, so we had a nice walk round town.
I told the proprietor of the not-to-be-named place that I had arranged that we wouldn’t need the tiffin meals, and that people would ask for lunch as they wished. It was supposed to have a restaurant after all.
Well he was expecting to screw a lot more money out of us. There was an engagement party for his sister-in-law going on, and several of us were invited to the meal by some of the children.
This just turned out to be a sting. When I got to settling up, the bloke that I had just spent an hour showing how to use wordpress so he could manage the website that I had spent over an hour previously back at base creating for his crummy hotel, now asked for a whopping Rs 125 per person for the entire group for the mouthful of food we’d eaten only to be polite. He Claimed this was because of the tiffins but it was a sting, they basically had way too much party food and he wanted to flog it to us.
At this stage, after 18 months of organising, and 5 days of keeping a group of people ranging from £5 a day backpackers to seriously comfortably well off Internet execs, I started to crack finally.
The half bottle of White Mischief vodka we’d purchased for the communal nightcap went pretty quickly once we got back on the train a few minutes later. I have just ceremonially deleted the website I made for the bloke, and I’ll go through the blog and purge any mention of his hotel’s name.
But the real drama was yet to unfold.
An hour later we arrived back down the hill at Jammu Tawi, and the main block of people booked on the train climbed aboard. And guess what, according to the train conductor we didn’t have reservations and were promptly told to get off the train. Well it was going to take a lot more than some bloke armed with a computer print out to get me off that train. Unfortunately some of the group were a tad too easily persuaded that their trip had come to an abrupt conclusion and took the insane decision to get off the train without being told to do so by a bloke with an AK47 (of which there were actually plenty on the train). It is now that John “Captain Shakti” Hasted, my dear friend of over 30 years and regular India visitor during that period, came into his own and basically saved the entire project from collapse, “GET BACK ONTO THIS TRAIN RIGHT NOW!!!” he bellowed to the crowd of obedient newbies, stood on the platform. They did and, after an extended stand off with the conductor chappie, everything was ultimately resolved. There had been a split booking and as the guy couldn’t read English very well he’d just told everyone to get off.
John is now being justly worshipped by the rest of the group as the man who saved the project from disaster, and I’ve agreed to stop taking the piss out of him, while he continues to take the usual out of me, for at least one more train.
We are now enjoying the luxurious Rajdhani train out to the eastern most extremes of the network. More news as we get it ….

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GlobeTrooper: GCIRC – Day 4


GlobeTrooperBzzzzzz! Up I was at 4am. Okay, there was no alarm, but my internal body clock buzzed after I fell asleep at 7pm the night before. These trains really don’t help with jetlag, but the plus side is that I woke up nice and early to chat with the early-rising locals and train conductors.

As they puffed on cigarettes, the locomotive puffed on fuel, and I puffed on a chilled mixture of diesel and nicotine. Doesn’t sound too pleasant, but this is India, and while my fellow train-mates snoozed away, I was getting my own unique taste of this wild, wild country.
read Todd’s full post here

A train
Photo by Todd Sulivan

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GlobeTrooper: GCIRC – Day 3


GlobeTrooperAhhhh… Sitting back, taking in the scenery, chatting with my fellow trainophiles, getting some much needed sleep, eating some great Indian food, and hanging out the train door at 50 miles per hour… life is good.
It’s the little things that tend to provide the most value, and hanging out a moving Indian train with the sun beaming down and the landscape zipping past, well, let’s just say it’s a refreshing contrast to my previous corporate life.
read Todd’s full post here

A train
Photo by Todd Sulivan

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Der Führer: Day 4 – Amritsar


The day’s off train entertainment began with our Balkan representative almost failing to alight the train at Makhu. Stoycho’s massive bag came crashing onto the platform, followed by our normally suave Bulgarian as the train began to pick up speed.
My next concern was that there wasn’t a friendly face on the platform holding up my name, so as I marched out of the station with my gaggle in tow I was praying that there would indeed be a bus waiting for us.
And Indeed there was, complete with an orange turbaned 6 foot tall Punjabi bus driver.
We only got into the centre of Amritsar as 2:30 pm, so it was a case of walking into the first half decent hotel and taking the first mildly contested deal we were offered. Then splash and dash, or rapid nosh stop, depending on whether your arm pits or stomach were more worthy of attention, then straight back on our bus to take us to Wagah.I've got an ice-ream wafer stuck in my head
As football fans, Andrew and I found the tribal nature of the Pakistan/Hindustan Zindabad chanting contest most amusing, and were half tempted to start a football inspired chant for our hosts.
Back to the hotel, then of to Kesar da Dabar, a highy recommended eatery deep in the back streets of Amrtsar. Arrived there with 5 Xl size blokes in a rickshaw, with their glorius Führer hanging off the side. Alas the Kesar was a bit too rich, the black dahl was swimming in butter. If you do go ask for a something a bit less rich than their most expensive thali, which seems to include about half a pouhnd of lurpack in it. It was a very interesting place all the same, and not a tourist in sight.

Then off to the temple, and oh! boy. I’ve seen a few monumental bulidings in my time, but the Golden Temple really is something, It is also a deeply spiritual place and quite moving in my opinion. To be allowed to walk about as a tourist, hovering respectfully around such a sacred shrine, was a privilage. Thankyou Amritsar.
Then off to the posh hotel over the road and it’s bar, which we occupied as sole residents for a couple of hours discussing which of our virign Indian companions would be the next to bail out. I came to the conculison that one of my quartet of mates is probably more likely than anyone else, as long as the newbies stick to the plan and get on and off trains at the right times as per the itinerary.
We are now aboard the Bhatinda-Jammu express, which gets into Jammu at about 7am. The team seem to be in high spirits, and my plans so far have gone near as damn it to plan at every corner, so far ….

You too can take this photograph

We’ve got endless photos of the temple, and wagah. We’ll have a whole page full of them up later. The main point about the temple is that anyone can take a photgraph of it that you will treasure.

Posted on day 5 in Udhanmpur, details of that to come.

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DrewGilbert: Dwarka – zero to party in 30 minutes


DrewGilbertI expected this day was meant to be a train day, defined by the group getting it’s bearings during a 19 hour train ride. It was this, but it turned into much more once we left the confines of our AC2 sleeper.
The day felt a bit like summer camp, some people in the group knew each other well, most of us were very newly acquainted, there was light talk amongst us, but I got the sense we were all holding back, giving ourselves time to get acclimated to this new environment.
read Drew’s full post here

Chalo!!
Photo by Drew Gilbert

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GlobeTrooper: Safety, Smells and Stares of India


GlobeTrooperEveryone warns to be cautious. To always have an eye on your things. To be aware of your surroundings. And to be especially wary of men (if your a woman).

But really, after a few days in Mumbai, I feel like it’s not so different to South America, Africa, or even North America or Australia. Perhaps it’s because we’ve only been here a few days, or maybe it’s because everyone’s drawn to negative news stories and base their opinions of a place on them alone. I felt more ‘on edge’ in New York last week than I have here in India yet.

But there is one big culture-shocking difference here; the staring.
read Lauren’s full post here


Photo by Todd Sulivan

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AlmostFearless: Day 2 Photos


Photos from Drew and Troy, click here for more
Kothander and the Globhetroopers
Photo by Troy Floyd

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Andrew Galvin : Day 3 – Sat On The Adi-Jat


From the outset we knew our journey could suffer under the law of diminishing return. The most obvious set in early with the fading of our initial adrenaline inspired levels of nervous energy. While we all bounced off the first train with the glee of children at a fun fair keen to get in line for the next ride, Mick observed that the sight of us disembarking from our second leg was a little more bleary than cheery. We’re blaming the five o’clock wake up and the ageing rattly rolling stock but a few of us know that the process of wear and tear will transfer from trains to passengers in due course. Sadly this was true of our valued compadre, Tim, who reached the starting line hampered by Delhi belly only to be hammered by a draughty bone shaker of a train. Tim has returned to the pits for a little TLC and hopes to rejoin the race in a few laps. This evening we find ourselves on a plusher and smoother running train but it’s had its own minor drop off. As I stood in the open doorway camera in hand, eyeing up a promising shot of sunset over Rajasthan’s red desert I was suddenly shocked by a shower of gravel around my shins and a rhythmic whacking sound. Having recoiled and put a protective hand over the camera’s lens I sneaked forward to check what was going on and saw a good seven feet of steel trim protruding at my foot level and flailing about at right angles, kicking up showers of gravel and sparks. I beckoned to the junior railway guards who simply shrugged, waggled their heads amusedly and asked me to take their photo. They had the right attitude of course…they were pleased with the picture and the length of metal simply tore itself loose and cartwheeled away into the sunset.
Train Guys
Photo by Andrew Galvin

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GlobeTrooper: GCIRC Day 1


GlobeTrooperTrain travel seems downright boring. You get an allocated seat on a speeding bullet with little time to really appreciate a new destination. That’s on the face of it anyway. And that’s what I expected too.

I knew the Great Circular Indian Railway Challenge would be adventurous from the aspect of covering such a vast distance in such a short period of time, but I also expected us to waste away on a multitude of 10- and 20-hour train trips.

But boy was I wrong.
read Todd’s full post here

Dwarka
Photo by Todd Sulivan

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GlobeTrooper: GCIRC Day 0


GlobeTrooperThe raucous story-telling and laughter mysteriously descended into an awkward silence. We all looked away between scattered beer bottles, smirking with slight embarrassment, the way people do when they’re stuck for conversation. This time was different though; it wasn’t a lack of words or inability to converse, but a simultaneous realization of what lay ahead. The silence broke when Mark, our fearless leader (aka Der Führer), muttered the timeless words, ‘The calm before the storm hey?’
read Todd’s full post here

Mumbai
Photo by Todd Sulivan

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FoggOdyssey: GCIRC Day 01


FoggOdysseyWe arrived at the station in the north of Goa, called Thivim Train Station. Our driver showed up on time and charged us 800Rs but I think we could have gotten a better deal. Then again maybe I am just being tight already. The train station was nothing special and as we walked in we seen a long line of about 40 people. So when in Rome, do as the Romans, and we got in line. I had thought that the sales lady who sold me the train ticket only printed off a receipt of it and that we had to pick up a boarding pass once at the train station……
read Troy’s full post here

Fat boys in t-shirts
Photo by Troy Floyd

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DrewGilbert:Mumbai – Controlled Pandemonium


DrewGilbertWriting this while riding the Saurashtra Mail, our first and longest train ride of the trip. We departed mumbai at 8:25pm Friday and will arrive at Dwarka at 4:00pm Saturday…….
read Drew’s full post here

Mumbai
Photo by Drew Gilbert

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We Have Lift Off


We are on the move. Currently just left Lakhtar, not a clue where that is but it’s somewhere in Gujurat. If you can read this then you can work that out yourself.

The band came, played, for about 3 minutes, then some nice men with large sticks and green uniforms turned up and told us we hadnt asked for “permission” and that it wasnt fair. How much “permission” would have cost didnt get discussed as the band ran off. We stopped them clearing off completely and continued the party just outside the station.

Those of us wise enough to join the tiffin club were suitably smug once aboard the Saurashtra mail. Not only was our dinner quite delicious, but the train wasnt offering nourishment of any kind anyway.

I’ll have a professionally taken photograph of the band, who turned up replete in Trumpton firebrigade outfits, once the main man has woken up.

Photo by Tim Steadman
Photo by Tim Steadman (the main man regarding matters of a photographic nature)

We have loads of great video of the band, including lots of footage of some fat guy dancing. Once we can get some decent bandwidth we’ll get them youtubed for your enjoyment,
To be continued …

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All Aboard!


Things are about to change around here in the next few hours as this show hit’s the railwoad. After 18 months of endless interaction on as many social networking media that I have been able to fathom, litterally tens of thousands of emails and forum postings, and a few too many hours trying to second guess as many potential pitfalls as possible, the moment of truth is upon everyone daft enough to get sucked into this. 5 years since I first posted the idea on the indian train geeks forum (IRFCA), 7 Brits, 4 Americans, 3 Aussies, a Bulgarian a Singaporee and even an Indian!, are all convened here in Mumbai ready for blast off. No one else in the group knows more than a couple of other people at most, often nobody, and few of them have even spoken to anyone else on the trip, even on the internet, till we hit Cafe Universal last night. So far no one has fallen out with anyone else.

I’m all connected up with my USB dongle thingy I just bought for 25 quid, and for that price in theory I can tweet to my hearts content 24 hours a day round the entire trip, with the exception of Jammu where such pre-paid internet access is deemed to be a threat to national security.

We also have Christine Gilbert and her almost fearless blog giving a daily account
http://almostfearless.com/2011/02/17/the-great-circular-indian-railway-challenge-live-blog/

And the Fogg blog
http://www.foggodyssey.com/2011/02/16/great-indian-railway-challenge-train-travel/

It’s now 5:30am local time , and I’m slightly the worse for wear after our inital meet and greet drinking seassion last night, and in a room with just a few too many people in it. The tweet rate on the blog is now going to go haywire depending on what’s just happened, or more likely gone wrong.

More news and views  as we get it, iin the mean time, here’s a picture of a circular building to be going on with

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Chai minus two weeks and counting


It will be a relief when we finally get on this train. It probably wont stop me waking up in the middle of the night, though it will perhaps be in a hot rather than a cold sweat.
My hero
Our current top concern is that The Railways have deemed that trains running in the middle of the night east of Guwahati are at such risk of terrorist attack that they’ve canceled them all. Which is something of a spanner in the works, but I guess that’s better than a fish-plate or two missing from the track. This was due to the recent Republic Day celebrations and the fear that separatist movements out there  would use the day to make their point. There was a similar panic on Independence Day last year, though they stopped short of just turning the trains off.
There’s an article here about it here which says that it’s just till the end of the month No night trains in Assam till Jan 30, so I will be eagerly checking the results from trainenquiry tomorrow for signs of life for train number 12424, and the subsequent return run from Dibrugarh.
There’s also been no sign of the Arunachal Express springing back into life, which is a pity as the Rajdhani is now stopping at Rangiya, the junction we’d need to get off at. As a substitute we will be getting the train from Alipurduar to Siliguri via some dense forest including the Buxa and I think the  Jalpadara Wildlife Sanctuaries, and get our dose of Sleeper Class.
We’ve lost one of our two remaining native team members alas. Once upon a time I had at least 50 Indians claiming they were going to do this the whole way round. We are now down to just one, a hardy soul who has traveled the length and breadth of India, including Assam many times, and is now an even more crucial resident guru than he always has been. We still have a number of cameo appearances scheduled, but I’m getting more sceptical about everything by the second.
I have also been through a state of panic when I realised my visa wasn’t valid, so had to spend another 4 hours in the queue at VFS in Victoria, London. I now have a multiple entry 6 month visa which is what they should have given me in the first place. There seems to be no Hindi translation for Sod’s Law which is surely an omission. For the record, just use the postal option, turning up in person isn’t worth the pain, but make sure you’ve got the right size photos. You need the extra large 2 inch square ones (only 2 per sheet) which I gather are standard American size.

And we’re still working on the previous post about Bollywood songs with trains in them. I had a further 16 submissions which I’m just working through. so the list is up to about 55 plus another 3 or 4 entries which aren’t strictly films but are too good not to include. The overwhelming favourite with the viewers though, acording to my stats, is  Mere Sapnon Ki Rani

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BollyRail – Indian Movie Songs On Trains


If you like Indian movie songs, and Indian railways, you’ve come to the right page…


They are listed with the youtube embedded on a sub page, but it takes an age to load, so I took them off the post, click through on this link if you have good bandwidth http://gcirc.wordpress.com/photos/bollyrail-–-indian-movie-songs-on-trains/ Further more, I’ve now come in contact with Atul and his amazing Bollywood song blog. Like so many Indians, Atul is a secret railway fan too, so he’s been collecting these songs for years. There are another 16 or more songs that we’ve missed. Atul has the words for all of them, and an English language description and an anecdote for them all. I’m working with the IRFCA gurus to add technical railway info onto them also, and get them into a chronologically ordered list. There are some really great songs in here, even if you dont speak a word of Hindi. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani is many peoples favourite. Of course if you grew up with these songs then many of them are of immeasurable sentimental value.



0-6-0 Sentinel on Kalighat-Falta line of McLeod & Co (closed 1957) Aayi Bahar Aaj – Doctor (1942)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NX6S3aw6bc


EIR 1360. SG 0-6-0 North British (built 1915). Toofan Mail – Jawab (1942)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z-2nABGWq0


Toofan Mail – Jawab (1942) again, Hindi version
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_NmsSA0eZE


Hello hello Gentleman milaate kyun nahin hamse nain- Actress (1948)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPLoz2a_xHA


Apni nazar se door wo, Bazaar (1949)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrEXbIDep6k


Dhak dhak karti chali jeewan ki rail re, Dirbua (1950)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CHLqVwVtJY


Rajasthan, a little bit of metre gauge at the end Aao Bachchon Tumhen Dikhayen Jhanki Hindustan Ki – Jagriti (1954)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E09twioyfs


Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat…Kitna badal gaya insaan, Nastik (1954)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aqmJR1HcQE


Gayaa andheraa huaa ujaaraa – Subah Ka Tara (1954)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpNyhk-D7PQ


Unknown train Basti Basti Parbat Parbat Gata Jaye Banjaraa- Railway Platform (1955)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q73g6a4eHAc


Calcutta suburban EMU, possibly Jubilee brdge. Hai apna dil to awara – Solwah Saal (1958)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K8TH8LBs-w


Steam! Auraton ke dabbe mein mard aa gayaa, Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (1960)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trIkj9u-lHY


Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofaan – Mohd Rafi – Kala Bazaar (1960)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuRQ-9zK75g


Interesting early electric loco Ye rang bhare baadal, Tu Nahin aur Sahi(1960)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWm2GbMy_pI


DHR Jhumroo (1961)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIIyVdcTgvQ


Kalka-Shimla Mujhe Apna Yaar Bana Lo – Boy Friend (1961)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCxE-qzj3EY


Ab mohabbat mein jo pehle thi wo taaseer nahin, Banarasi Thug (1962).
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mvsNa9_pno


Cheel Cheel Chillake – Half Ticket (1962)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhZvU3mTZR4


DHR Main Chali Main Chali – Professor (1962)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt9EF7cX_WI


Dekho Ji – Shammi Kapoor, Shakila & Keshto Mukherjee – China Town (1962)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46kn3LfGk3Q


Pyaar baantte chalo, Hum sab ustaad hain (1965)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmamDCbTujw


Howrah-Amta line on  Martin’s Light Railway (closed 1970)  Mahendra Kapoor -Badal jaaye agar maali…bahaaren phir bhi aayengi – Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urhcocDxERA


Rukh se zara naqaab hataa do mere huzoor, Mere Huzoor (1968)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAFlBUhaVdM


The more famous original that the IR advert (below) is parodying. It’s actually a common children’s nursery rhyme.
Rail Gaadi Rail Gaadi Chhuk Chhuk – Ashok Kumar – Aashirwaad (1968)

youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcLrPIE_18o


Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Mere Sapnon Ki Rani – Aradhana (1969)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo1MykK4u8U


Chandigarh (some debate about this the last clip certainly is not) Teri duniya se hoke majboor chala, Pavitra Paapi (1970)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLBWlsuB-00


Early electric and some great steam shotsJeewan hai ik sapnaa madhur suhaanaa sapnaa, Honeymoon (1973)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On5D2OIahQk


Diva – Panvel, WDS4B type B-B diesel hydraulic shunter Lata & Kishore Kumar, Hum Dono Do Premi, Ajanabee (1974)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Tk7HRRkniI


Bombay Central Railway suburban section. including Parsik Tunnel and curve. Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Guzar – Aap Ki Kasam (1974)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1YX8jHBF88


Kalka – Shimla Kishore Kumar – Gaadi Bula Rahi Hai – Dost (1974)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i46jlVrrwdQ


Bombay se baroda tak – Rafoo Chakkar (1975)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW5pNDWi2U8


Chhuk Chhuk – Rafoo Chakkar (1975)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI6Kpfwr2Mw


WG locomotive of Kalyan shed at Diva, Panvel. Dhanno Ki Aankhon Mein – Kitaab (1977)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rja031BlWbY


Logon ka dil agar jeetna tumko hai to, Manpasand (1980)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6wzIoYVRkA


Unknown train, from Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamara, Burning Train (1980), very long, the train is at 6 mins 30 secs
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZYnTnXOsdE


Teri Hai Zameen – Another from Burning Train (1980), shades of Arthur Hailey in this film clearly
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvjORuq8U8Y


Nilgiri Line Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun – Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaFmNil_xYo


footplate of a WG no less Hathon Ki Chand Lakeeron Ka – Vidhaata (1982)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trCnRA2uoig


Bangalore City Station Duniya Ka Bohj – Coolie (1983)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYrxx1rSHgA


Metre Gauge YP Pacific – Fatehpur Shekhwati station Mere Pi Ko – Ghulami (1985)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtGN9FFwdeY


Egmore Raaja Raajathi, Agni Nakshatram (1988)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g-JnvTpNWs


Saajan mera us paar hai, Ganga Jamuna Sarswati (1988 )
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kds7CYIO1bs


Egmore Chikku Bukku Raile, Gentleman (1993)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIwuDzToLcg


Kurla Terminus masquerading as Vasco de Gama Station, Goa; WCM 5 Loco on Thull Ghat; Deewana Dil Deewana – Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbQ2F2Wosps


YDM4s on the Canal Loop Ghar Aaja Pardesi – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tRkZyWft_Y


Nilgiri Line Chaiyya Chaiyya – Dil Se (1998)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVKwLs23D_I


Dekho Zara Kaise Balkhake Chali Hai – Sirf Tum (1999)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8O0XfFQurI


Hyderabad Hafeezpet station Tu Kaun Hai – Lucky Ali – Bhopal Express (1999)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dPdq5hm63A


Visakhapatnam station Madhavan, May Masaam, Jay Jay (2003)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrZZnnk7AH8


Aanewala Pal – Plan (2004)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKMPWbkJcAs


KK line in Andhra Pradesh Aa Ante Amalapuram – Aarya (2004)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1oVX7_yIuc


Samastipur shed locomotive. Final shots over Kosi river bridge near Mansi Dhadak Dhadak – Bunty Aur Babli (2005)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3apUfr29YQ


DHR Kasto Mazaa – Parineeta (2005)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuq5TrD7CAw


Ratlam Jn. and nearby areas Maeri – Euphoria – ReDhoom (album, 2008)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7eyd_Rpinc


Chali Chali – BBC Bombay Railway (2008)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIUOeBjLdFo


VT, and elsewhere including Conoor Jai Ho – Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f927lItWbtA


Panchirey Panchirey – Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam (2009)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLbn7vJEYQk


MG Punalur-Tirunelveli Dhanush and Sriya, Kutty (2010)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPSywkuaLKY


Indian Railways Advert (2010)
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzEKCYb6zzU


Delhi-Cochin The Unsullied Singer – Amateur Video by Noble Jose
youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEBLGPV5Nvc


old cultural regional songs in indian train
googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7254227253470290115#


If you can help me out with any of the unknowns, or any railway minutiae for any of these, please drop me a line. IRFCA have a great page on Indian steam in cinema http://www.irfca.org/articles/cinema-steam.html

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Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Closed


This is hardly breaking news, though it’s only just come to our attention and is a certain vote winner on the SEO front. There was a serious landslide at Paglajoura on 10th June 2010 which took out not just the railway line, but the road too. They spend most of their time intertwined anyway. The Railways are now waiting for the road to get fixed before they sort out the track. The people in charge of that aren’t taking the matter too seriously, and so it’s been closed for 7 months already, and will probably be for another 2, thus crippling a string of businesses dependent on the railway and tourism. And yes, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I don’t know who is to blame for all this, but between the railways, the road authorities and the local and regional government, this is the world’s largest democracy at it’s incapable worst.
It’s not closed all the way, just south of Kurseong. The steam trains only run on the top bit anyway so you can still do that back and forth from Darjeeling to Ghum. But you are now obliged to take the road up the hill, and take a detour at Sukna. I’m still trying to work out how long the extended road journey now is. The Railways are hoping to re-open the line in early March 2011. But beware if you are planning to go there beforehand, the railways still think it’s OK to sell tickets on it even though it’s shut, which can leave you at Siliguri station feeling that you’ve been had.

Edit:
I’ve been a bit mean complaining about this not being fixed yet, check out John Clemmens’s photos of the damage on the DHRS website, it’s a humungous landslide.
http://www.dhrs.org/html/john_clemmens.html
Latest estimates for re-opening are end of April, just in time for the monsoon!.

In other news, The Railway have finally confessed that the Arunachal Express isn’t bookable on account of the entire line being shut, and so we can now re-book scot free. We still hope to do the colliery at Tipong, but we will now bounce straight out of the eastern end on the Friday night, and spend 2 nights in Darjeeling instead. The 36 hours we now have at Darjeeling allows us to play all day on the Toy/Joy Train without the bags, and also cleanse undies and generally arse about blogging and stuff. The good folks at the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society will be in Siliguri the same day that we arrive from the East, Saturday 26th Feb, so we hope to be able present them with first hand reports on the continued service of the steam engine at Tipong Colliery. I’m going to make a bit more effort now to see if we will be lucky enough to arrive on a steaming day at the colliery.

We haven’t given up all hope on the Arunachal, but at least we have a reliable fall back position. If we get a credible offer of help, which will probably involve blokes in uniforms tuning up at Tinsukia station, we can go for it, and anyone who doesn’t want to do it can just jump on the Rajdhani back to New Jalpaiguri.

Here’s a picture of a mini bus attacking the DHR. This train goes slow down the hill, and you can walk backwards quicker than it on the way up. So try and work out how the heck this happened. 180,000 people died on India’s roads in 2009, I guess at least some of them must have been minding their own business sitting on a nice safe train.

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All Does Not Bodo Well


It seems that the local nutters in North East Assam have managed to get train operations suspended on the most exotic part of the route. The 5814 Arunachal Express hasn’t run since the start of November, and while it’s bookable from 1st January 2011, my chief rail fan/journalist has assured me that the General Manager of the Northern Frontier Railways Division has no intention of opening it up again “in the next 6 months”. The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, who appear to be anything but democratic, have been active again, killing people in retaliation for one of their leaders being killed. From what I can gather they haven’t actually kidnapped any of the train drivers yet, a common tactic employed by the Maoists and others elsewhere in India, but I am told that they’ve threatened to do as much. Our train is due to stop at Udalguri, headquarters of the NDFB, at round about 3am in the morning on it’s way to Rangiya. As with any of these types of organistaions it’s difficult to work out who is in charge, but the self-proclaimed leader of the NDFB, a Mr Ranjan Daimary, described as a “terror mastermind”, is currently helping police with their enquiries. He says he’s willing to make peace, here’s the article http://www.newslivetv.com/exclusive/index.php?aID=12019&s=17e88c3471efd5639e0ebf1f929ed65f&cat=3. Part of the problem with these chaps, as you will see from a quick glance at any map of the area, is that both Bangladesh and Bhutan have close borders with the Bodoland , which is the part of Assam north of the Brahmaputra, and they hide in the hills along the border, and they can also run away into Burma.

I’m currently trying to work out what we might be able to do as a contingency. It would be a real bummer if we don’t get to do the Arunachal Express as it’s the one section of the route where you’ll be hard pressed to find any non-Indian, or non Assamese for that matter, who has ridden on this line, perhaps for obvious reasons. Either way, you need to be aware that the line has been closed recently due to “insurgency”. If the mossies don’t get you then the local separatists just might. You’ll be getting a mail to this effect also, so if you want to bottle out I can arrange for you to take the sissy route back along the southern side of the river.

One alternative might be to do a southern spur on the eastern Assam network, between Lumding and Agartala. But the timings don’t really match up, and so we’d miss Darjeeling, which as I told you all to get yourself a hotel room booked there I think we should make it to that most iconic of hill stations. Another option is to make more definite provisions at the Tipong colliery. I have been taking a laissez-fair attitude to the colliery. If they are steamed up all well and good. But we could have 24 hours on our hands at this rate, so I’ll make more effort if it looks like we’re not going to get to do the Arunachal.

More news as I get it. Here’s some obligatory media content

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Visas, Vaccines and Vodafone


The booking and berth reservations are going in now as we are inside the 90 day window for our opening trains, and the great news is that not only do we now have 17 paid-up indrailers, but we also have two Indians who are coming the whole way round. They are both in the revered sage category, so along with Mick we are now back up to a quorum  of 3 wise men. We also have cameo appearances joining us in Mumbai for a few days, and Delhi for a few days more as we do Assam, and then again on the east coast. So there should be at least 20 of us at any time. The Indian guys booking this one train at a time have just come unstuck on the train out of Delhi as it’s currently showing “Reservations Suspended” , but we’re hoping that’s a temporary thing due to timetable adjustments (note that no one had the stomach to go for a circular journey ticket with the daily visits to the station to make sure you’ve bagged the required berths) .

John and I went for our visas today. It’s not half as much fun as visiting India House at the Aldwych. They’ve outsourced it all to a place in Victoria. Expect the same queues but not half as many authentic rubber stamping Indians.

Here are a few things to think about during the next few weeks

Visas

If you are in the UK you can start the process now, on-line,  by going here http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/news.html . Kiwis, Singaporees and a few other nationalities can get one on the door these days. But Brits and most other folks have to get one in advance and stump up about £39 plus postage costs if needed. If you aren’t in the UK and don’t know what to do, talk to me, or someone, but get on with it.

Vaccines

One look at the Google earth pic of the Dibrugarh region

and the phrase “mosquito infested swamp lands” might spring to mind. Look at this map

and you’ll see we are traveling straight through the dark red  blob on the right. Including visiting a coal mine (we think), hanging about at an eco lodge for the afternoon, spending the night in Dibrugarh which is virtually in the river, then getting a ferry across that river, driving through areas flooded for half the year, then getting an SL only train (i.e not in the slightest bit mosquito proof)  right through what appears on another map in here http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/jan102006/32.pdf as having 7 cases of malaria per thousand population per annum.

I still dont know if I’m going to take them, but we are in a chloroquine resistant area to boot, so you’ll need the expensive stuff anyway. The cheap stuff, which is barely better than poison in my opinion, wont do anything against the local variety of the little bastards. Travel Doctor has a good page on this  http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/malaria.htm . The Doc says you need Doxycycline OR Mefloquine OR Malarone.

The latest news report I could find is this

http://www.rxpgnews.com/epidemics/Assam_health_alert_after_malaria_claims_35_4040_4040.shtml

which has probably swung me into getting down to my clinic and getting some defence worked out.

 

Vodafone

Well it should be AirTel actually. I’m not having much success in working out how I can get a post paid contract at no notice, but we should be able to use our roaming cards for those sensitive areas, i.e Jammu and Assam, where the authorities think that they are going to make a scrap of difference to people intent on death and destruction if they don’t allow them to use pre-paid mobile phones. Pre-paid are easy peasy to get, and we should try and equip ourselves with one of  Airtel, Vodafone and possibly BSNL.

Verbage

I’ll start a reading list here, and amend this post as I get stuff in. I’ll spam the facebook group and if there’s a book you are bringing I’ll add it to the list so we dont end up with 10 copies of Shantaram.

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