Meet the Farquars

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 freinds she should invie to join the GCIRC Facebook group

Chief railway wallah Mamata Banerjee ponders which of her Facebook friends she should invite to join the GCIRC group.

I wanted to thank the Indian taxpayer for the tens of billions of rupees it spends on maintaining and developing the railway, and allowing us to ride on it for such a fantastcially reasonable rate.  But apparently it actually makes money these days. Incredible !ndian railways or what!
I’m still getting my head round this. As the worlds largest public employer, and 3rd largest railway network, and heaviest passenger carrier on the planet, surely it’s got to be taking a few thousand crore out of the Delhi coffers. I’ll come back later on this.

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 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 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.



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9 responses to “Meet the Farquars

  1. Against my better judgment, I signed up to the face book page, and for some reason (it wont tell me why) I’m not allowed to post on the ‘wall’. (I copied the words first, but still no joy)

    I think we need the mind of a teenager to be able to understand those websites, so I’ll just go and mug a pensioner, then get my fix of drugs and see if I can improve my understanding.

  2. Lester

    have you joined the group itself, or just the event, let me check …..
    nope, you need to join the group, its the computer thats stewpid mate, not you

  3. Mick Pope [Scousermick]


    Do you have shares in Facebook or something?I am a bit alarmed at your apparent insistance that joining is a pre-requisit of participating in the trip, or did you mean only for those dipping in and out?I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of those responding on Facebook won’t get off their arses when the time comes

    I have had the recent misfortune to witness two seperate instances of families tearing theselves apart through comments made on Facebook by nutters. I was also irritated to have my own photo posted and named without my consent. Personally I find most people who feel a need to spout mostly drivel through this medium to be sad b**t*rd*, but of course defend their right to be so if they wish. Personally I prefer more traditional methods of social networking. It is a bit like being obliged to join the Man United Supporters Club in order to be allowed to watch them play Liverpool!

    Can you think again about this please?

    • Lester

      But Mick, you are in the executive club membership scheme!, you always get preferential treatment.
      I’m just eating, I’ll tackle the scouse-manc issues in a short while.

  4. Lester

    OK. I’ll amend the post. Obviously people like you and Steven and anyone else who was in on this from the off doesnt count, I was just appealing to the couple of dozen that have registered interest on various forums (fora ?) but who I dont have their email address and can’t keep track of.
    I will though be insisting that everyone on the trip joins the of Mumbai branch of the Manchester United Supporters Club before getting on the train.

  5. I can understand why you want everyone on facebook (I don’t like the website though), it’s a whole lot easier than going to various websites to keep updated on who may join the trip.

    But I think that it’s down to everyone else to keep themselves updated, and if you’ve got to chase them, chances are that they’re not too interested.

    Personally, I’m really struggling for time, but I still manage to keep myself updated.

  6. skk

    That pic of Mamta दीदी Banerjee is really good – almost a Mughal portrait ! Exudes.. hmm I dunno – power? thoughtfulness ? well done for finding it. Yeah yeah, the conventional illiterate viewpoints that sexualize everything about women would find that difficult to comprehend.

    Well done for the pic. You have a knack, man. As regards the caption – I’m a semi-feral Brit myself so I enjoy it and IMO, it doesn’t detract from: “She’s the man, man”.


  7. Lester

    Have I fouled up on my Hindi grammar ?, are ladies not “wallahs” ?.
    Mamata is obviously quite a character. There’s loads of campaign trail pics of her, she really gets down with the people. But that one is a good un isnt it.

  8. skk

    In context I think wallah is gender neutral – sort of how “Helen Mirren”,”Rekha” “Meryl Streep” are acTORs . Certainly B4UMusic, a 24hr non-stop Bollywood vids channel that I regularly watch ( also the news channels) regularly refer to Indian female stars as ACTORs.

    Lit. wise of course you are wrong – wallah should be switched to baii बीई but language changes – so I think the caption is valid.Other people’s mileage may vary and no doubt you’ll hear about that.


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