The exciting news this week is that we have finally broken through to the legions of rail fans residing on the IRFCA message board, all courtesy of the Facebook group. The Indian Rail Fans Club or IRFCA is, surprise surprise, the biggest and most well patronised rail fan club on the entire Internet. It’s heaving. The Facebook group is now over 250 and growing steadily. (the trailing A in IRFCA is a legacy, it was originally “Indian Rail Fans Club of America”). As I said in Railality TV, we’re in danger of not actually meeting any Indians at all if the group gets too big. It’s critical for the sanity and enjoyment of all the participants that we get as many Indians as possible to join in, even if just for short sections or meet-ups. And the more on the ground people we have the smoother the entire project is likely to go, especially regarding refueling and working out those critical “splash and dash” pit stops we’re going to need if we aren’t going to stink the entire train out. I’m now looking for other Indian specific meeting places on the Net that we can get interest from.
This whole project is intended to be a celebration of your fantastic railway. We need your help to do the job properly. I’ve said several times that this trip isn’t a “rail freaks” expedition, and it isn’t. But we simply wouldn’t be at this stage in the development without the help of literally dozens of Indian rail fans on the ground. We really do want as many of you to join in on the project as you can, even if it’s just for a few stops or to share some hard earned nourishment at one of our various train changes. So please all you great people, keep on telling your friends and keep growing the group.
Chief railway wallah Mamata Banerjee ponders which of her Facebook friends she should invite to join the GCIRC group.
Damp in Dhemaji ?
I’ve had an uncorroborated report that Dhemaji, the mystical town on the north bank of the Brahmaputra opposite to Dibrugarh, and which is the “get up” point for the Arunachal Express, is “disconnected” right now due to rain. I’ll continue to ask around about this, it doesn’t seem serious and one guy out there said that it’s not marooned and never is at this time of year. But I did just find this 2002 report which names Dhemaji as the worst hit area of the 2002 flood http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2143812.stm. We aren’t going during monsoon of course, but it does rain all year round in Assam, so I’d still like to get another of our illusive on-the-ground people out there to tell us it’s OK and always is in February through March.
*STOP PRESS* My main man in the region, who actually hails from Dhemaji itself, has tuned in and put me to right on this. Yes it does get damp, but it’s never ever actually cut off at this time of year, even if you might get your feet a bit wet getting from the north bank of the great river the 50 klicks or so to the station. There will be experiences to savour all round the trip, but this section is a guaranteed adventure.
Join the Facebook event if you are coming
If you are contemplating joining the tour at any stage, please add yourself in here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=371461612956&index=1. I’ve decided now that if you haven’t got a Facebook ID then tough, get one if you want me to send you mails on the critical days that you need to book your tickets. There’s at least 10 known serious contenders who aren’t on the event list so far. I did have an interaction with a potential contender recently who claimed that she is another one of these people who buys her long distance Indian train tickets on the day of travel. Incredulous though this claim is, I’ve asked her for next week’s lottery numbers. Those of us who don’t live in an alternative reality and are actually intending on traveling on our trains will need to stay tuned. Of course if you are a foreign tourist then all you have to do is get your application in to Shankar at S.D Enterprises and mention the title of this blog and he’ll sort it all out for you.
Important qualification to the above
The facebook thing has clearly become a key marketing tool and I’ve been keen to get it up to a self endorsing 4 figure size prior to spamming the lot of you on the eve of battle and getting a real boost.
*BUT* if I know you, i.e. we’ve had two way email contact over several months, or I actually do know you, then “Join facebook or you’re not coming” doesn’t apply (but would be nice). If you have issues with facebook, and we all do to some degree, then fine, but I have to insist that you contact me directly if you want support, I’m not going to do this via message boards, though I will probably keep IndiaMike up to date.
All that said, I really would love it if someone turned up on the platform with their entire itinerary booked and ready to roll, who none of us have ever heard of. You can listen in here and see that we’ve all booked up on the trains listed and it really is happening, then do it all yourself. Just don’t blame me if you find out that for some strange reason you can’t get a 2AC birth on a train that normally never has it’s FT allocation used up.
To clarify all that, all you have to do to get your ticket booked if you’re not Indian is to get your cheque off to S.D Enterprises (or ring him up with your card details) probably round about the start of October. If you are rich and famous and want to go 2AC absolute minimum, and really 1st proper when available, or you’re not coming (that’s Shantanu and Mick at the last count) then you simply must contact me via email so I know to finger Shankar into making sure you are top of the list.