We’ve had a tragic rail accident this week on a train I was originally intending on traveling on. It’s not really appropriate to make any puns about the Uttar Banga express this time. It has proven to be a stroke of SEO genius as the page views went north, but then when I found out why I almost pulled the original post.
Our “test pilot” landed back in Delhi, and on time. I really don’t know how he did it. He still doesn’t seem to be speaking to me, or to anyone else for that matter. His blog came to a grinding halt on impact back at Delhi. He does nevertheless have some great stories to tell, if he can just get off the loo and down the cyber-cafe to tell us them. He didn’t manage to hit Varkala, which it turns out is actually west of Dwarka. So if anyone is reading this and fancies doing the whole run before us, the target is currently 20 days, and you don’t need to do Varkala. We’ll be doing it in 15 days, and also covering Tipong, Dhemaji and Amritsar as well. If you need any help setting up a blog. or planing your trip, please feel free to get in touch before you set off.
In the mean time, my co-coordinator “Sri Murli Ji” and I have thrown ourselves into tackling the details of what happens at each point that we get off the train, and especially what we are going to be eating. It’s looking like we are going to have in excess of 30 people on this mobile riot of ours, so working out where and how bellies are going to be filled, and armpits and elsewhere are going to be washed, is going to be a critical aspect of the trip. It’s an almost statistical certainty that someone is going to get poorly at some stage, but I am hoping that we can cut this down to an absolute minimum with the sourcing of the nearest thing to home cooked food we can get on the route. We’ve got detailed catering options sorted out at half the stops already. The idea is that we all buy tiffin boxes in Mumbai, and get them filled up daily so we don’t have to play Rajhastani-roulette with the train food for 2 weeks.
The mysterious Assamese section, which is without exception the most eagerly anticipated part of the whole trip by everyone aboard, is shaping up very nicely also. We’re hoping to stay in or near the Digboi refinery, thanks to some great contacts we’ve made in the area. Blessed be the Internet that has enabled us to meet up with locals in remote tribal villages, senior oil executives in key but almost equally remote towns, and jet setting urbanites keen to welcome us on our return.
We are also working on a “buy the t-shirt” marketing plan, courtesy of junior’s gimp skills. You could of course just rip me off and have that printed on a shirt yourself, and if you are calling from India, or anywhere really, then I suggest you do just that. But wait till I’ve taken these images to the t-shirt people and made sure that they work, the back might be too long for instance.
And the back looks like this. I’ve used a little poetic license on some of the train names.