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.
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