IRFCA Mailing List Archive
Messages 181 - 200
From: Vijay Balasubramanian <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Bombay-to-Bhusaval II (At last!)
Date: 15 Mar 1990 18:58:00 -0500
Before I continue on my locomotive journey, here are a few remarks on
Manish's recent mail:
> Bangalore-Mangalore line : I travelled on this route so long ago, that I
> have even forgotten if this is a meter gauge or broad gauge line. I think
Bangalore-Mangalore is fully metre gauge. There is a daily Exp-cum-Fast
Pass. which takes about 13 hrs.
> to just about your eye-level. I used to go travel by Indore-Bilaspur exp.,
> which used to reach this area just before the sunrise. And this beautiful
This train is now called the Narmada Exp.(-cum-Pass.). One of the most
scenic stretches in the Jabalpur-Itarsi section occurs a few kms. away from
Itarsi when the train snakes thru' mountains (Satpuras?); at one point it
passes thru' the lone tunnel in this section, darkness looms around for a few
seconds only to give away to the breathtaking view of the Tawa river flowing
below our train.
And now back to the engine ride. The saga continues from the moment I set
foot inside the WCM-1.
I am introduced to the engine driver and his assistant along with
a local divisional inspector, the third person in the quartet. I 'displace' the
assistant driver from his seat facing the window, who contends himself with
either standing behind me or using his steel trunk as a sedantary aid. Alas! I
have to share this priveleged postion with Mr. Inspector. The WCM-1 seats
are elevated to be on par with the windows with the result that they are
almost in level with the roofs of the coaches behind. The driver
familiarizes me with various levers and gadgets that handle braking,
acceleration and current to the traction motors.
In particular, there is the locomotive brake lever, the train brake lever, the
accelerator wheel, as also the twin whistle levers and the mechnical wiper
switches. And then there is the speedometer which is located at the far end
of the engine (i.e. at the extreme left when one faces the loco. windows).
It is past 8.40 a.m. Mr. Driver sounds the horn and turns the wheel a
little. We are finally on the move. For the first time in my life, I am
experiencing a thrilling sensation of objects hurlting TOWARDS me only to
be side-stepped at the last moment. The speedometer needle is kept to below
70 kmph. due to the double-amber and amber signals as Masjid and Sandhurst Rd.
roll by. The ass. driver reconfirm the status of all signals thru' his
distinctive accent: "Sevhanty Phor Thirty Three, Dabal Yellow",.... Gosh!
He seems to remember the signal post numbers by heart. A few EMU locals whiz
past us on both the sides (Bombay-Kalyan is a quadruple track stretch).
My camera is swiftly brought into action.
After passing Byculla, the train picks up speed and the needle lazily
moves to the 95-100 kmph. range. Green signals occur more frequently now.
Mr. Inspector is facing a barrage of questions from me but patiently answers
every one of them. I stick my head out of the side window to find out more
about the train behind me. This is a long one, 18 coaches in all. I can make
out heads straining to break free from the window bars on the coaches. Perhaps,
they can spot me too and are probably wondering as to what in the world is a
nice guy like me doing in a place like that!
The horns (yes there are two of 'em, a low pitched drone and a high
pitched screech, but together they make music) are sounded quite frequently
till Dadar to warn morning office goers to stay away from the track. A few
enterprising ones slide off the track dangerously close to the engine.
Needless to say, I actively take part in pressing the horn switches from time
Chinchpokili, Curry Rd. and Parel pass by, a few EMUs are overtaken and
Dadar approaches. A single amber signal at the far end of the platform forces
the train to slow down, but the train passes by the swarm on the platform while
staying above 30 kmph. I glare at the hapless crowd from the bottom of my
sunglasses, as if to say, now look who's in control!
Mantunga, Sion and Kurla follow suit. An express train
approaches on (one of the) opposite tracks as our train is crossing the Kurla
EMU repair-shed. My camera registers the magic moment of the two work-horses
After Vidya Vihar, the engine rushes thru' *my* station viz., Ghatkopar,
as if to tease me. The Ghatkopar-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg-Bhandup-Mulund stretch
passes thru' one of the prime industrial belts of suburban Bombay, as is evident
from the numerous factories that have now resumed their operation for the day.
Mulund signals the end of Bombay as we enter into Thane-land. After Thane
station, a tunnel plunges us into darkness, brief momemnts, but neverthless
As Diva Jn. approaches, I intensify my gaze thru' the window; I knew that
the Vasai Rd. link meets the main line somewhere here. Mr. Inspector comes to
my rescue and explains the set-up. The line curves a great deal before
splitting itself into two which join the main line. This is confirmed
soon enough. A WCAM-1 loco. rests quietly with its goods load, a few tracks
away, but cannot escape my camera.
Dombivli and Thakurli follow in quick succession before the train comes to
a halt at Kalyan. The fact that the stop is only a 5 mt. one cannot prevent me
from climbing off the engine and hopping around the platform. Kalyan is
the only passanger halt for the Pushpak Exp. between Bombay and Bhusaval
although there are technical halts at Kasara and Igatpuri.
The horn is sounded and the train resumes its journey. Two lines tear-off
from us and curve into the distance; these go towards Pune.
The earlier quadruple line set now narrows down to a pair. We have left the
metropolis and it subordinates behind as the train now speeds towards the Ghats.
The terrain around us acquires a distinctive undulation.
I am particularly fascinated by straight sections which appear as glittering
steel threads merging into oblivion, decorated by the catenary wires to be
licked underneath by our loco. pantograph.
The approach of a curve or a level crossing is indicated by "W" and "W/L" signs,
respectively, necessitating the use of the horn. I oblige accordingly.
I seem to remember most of the stations in the Bombay-Bhusaval section.
Shahad, Ambivli, Titvala, Vasind, Asangaon, Atgaon and Khardi, in that order,
lead us into Kasara. A brief 8-10 mt. halt at Kasara ensures that the twin-WCG1
unit has attached itself to the rear of the train and we are all set to climb
the steep inclines. A third track keeps us company all the way till Igatpuri.
The 45-odd mt. Kasara-Igatpuri journey is a dream come true! My prized
photos are a testimoney to that. There are 8 tunnels in all as the trains
zig-zags its way thru' the Ghat slopes. One moment
we are inside a long tunnel where the clattering of wheels is magnified a
thousand times into a deafening roar, the next moment we are thrown into a
semi-spin when the engine follows a circuitous route to desperately avoid a
large piece of rock that looms from nowhere. And there are times when we are
in the midst of a deep gorge where the train seems to be precariously balanged
on defiant girders. And all the while our neighboring tracks play hide-n-seek
with us; maybe I missed a train or two. The speedometer is never allowed to
cross 40, signs at regular intervals constantly reminding us of the precipitous
path that lies ahead.
The train pulls into Igatpuri a little before noon. Its time to bid
farewell to the WCM-1 crew. A few snaps followed by the customary exchange of
niceties leaves me standing on Platform 2, awaiting the arrival of the WAM-4
to take charge of the train till Bhusaval.
...and its time for me to end this segment. But I'll be back with Part III
to bore you further.
From: Swaminathan Srinivasan PHY <email@example.com
Subject: The West Coast Exp.
Date: 15 Mar 1990 19:52:00 -0500
One of the most scenic routes in my experience is that of the Mangalore Mail
and West Coast Exp. - the part through the Kerala coast after Quilon(?) where
the line starts going north. Esp. in the monsoon, it is so luxuriant! The trip
is worth all the more 'coz of Ideal Ice Cream parlour in Mangalore! Those
"Parfaits" and "Gadbads" were a class apart - probably better than even
Vadilal's in Ahmedabad.
The reason that trip is still etched in my memory is not 'coz of the above,
but 'coz of what Alaka told me. This girl was about 24 years old, married to
a tyrannical husband and deeply attatched to her five year old son. She had
been married when she was a mere 18 and had been very badly treated by her
in-laws, esp. her husband. Not being able to withstand it, she had fled to
nowhere. Her parents did not support her leaving her in-laws and refused to
allow her back into their house in Mangalore. The only friend she had was an
old schoolmate of hers ( her name was Malini, I think) and it was to stay with
her that Alaka was going to Mangalore. Her husband had organized to take back
her son by force and had even arranged for a kidnap about a year after Alaka
fled Madras, where he stayed. Desperately alone, she had pleaded vainly with
her parents to at least take care of her son; they refused. Fortunately,
Malini and her husband offered to take care of her son till she was sure he
would be safe with her. She was from a very rich family and still had a sizable
amount of money in her name(as part of the dowry) which she had refused to
transfer over to her husband's account ; that was one of the main reasons for
which she had been victimized. So she was monetarily quite comfortable, but
that was little solace when she had to stay so far away from her son, hoping
that he would be safe from further kidnap efforts initiated by her "husband".
It was such a sad tale. I still remember how much pain was written on her
beatiful face; and how it used to light up wonderfully whenever she started
talking about how tall her son had become when she had seen him six months back.
The only time she smiled when talking to me was when she recounted the pride
with which he showed her the blue balloon Malini autie had taught him to draw.
Can't stop a few tears welling up even as I type this out. Every detail of that
afternoon's conversation with Alaka is vividly etched in my memory even after
four years. Now her son would be in class IV. Where is Alaka right now?
From: Vijay Balasubramanian <firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 16 Mar 1990 13:22:00 -0500
Read Swami's mail just now. I do feel sorry for Alaka; I hope she's doing
fine wherever she is.
Incidently, the line to Mangalore splits off from the Madras-Trivandrum
main line at Shoranur Jn. (not Quilon).
Some clarifications regarding my previous discussion on locomotives. The
lower geared locomotives used on the Kottavalasa-Kirandul section are WAG-5s,
not WAM4Bs. The latter are also for hauling iron-ore but are probably in
operation in the Dhanbad - Mughal Sarai Grand Chord section.
This means that the new goods-traffic locomotive that I spotted during my
recent journey(s) is the WAG-6.
The WAP2 is nothing but a converted WAM2/WAM3 that hauls express train in
the Hwh.-Asansol-Dhanbad-Mughal Sarai-Allahabad section. The 8-wheeled
slant-faced WAM2 (now, WAP2) used to be the primary locomotive for hauling
express trains in the Grand Chord section, till the WAM4s made their presence
felt somewhere in the late 70s. I used to love their high-pitched whistles,
something very unique to these 'oldies'. I spotted a few of them in the
Asansol-Hwh. section, this time; even took a couple of photos of one at
Allahabad, where it was in charge of the Gwalior-Howrah Exp.
From: rs%cse%shakti <email@example.com
Date: 17 Mar 1990 18:20:00 -0500
I'm off to ADI(Ahmedabad) for 2 days.So Part II of UDZ-ADI
will be after I return.
Part of your mail on IND-BSP exp was garbled.
Please use short lines (upto 80characters) and give carriage
The DC engines are WCM1,WCM4 & WCM5, referring to increasing
As far as I know, Raj is fuuly double WDM between BCT-NDLS.
The timings are such as to have equitable maintenance times
at BCT & NDLS.
Thanx for part II of BB-BSL.
BB-MFP weekly exp has been intro from 1 May.
No idea about Lashkar.
Budget-uuper class fares up by 17%.
II M/E fares up by Rs.1.00 to Rs.20.00.
Sleeper charges up.
Marginal increase in II ordy fares.
Freighty charges up by 10% during Oct-Mar and 7% during Apr-Sep.
(for encouraging load in lean season).
From: betaal!cse!rs (betaal!cse!rs - Normalised at shakti.NCST.IN)
From: Amit Mukerjee <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: intro and more train travels
Date: 17 Mar 1990 13:17:00 -0500
Well, I guess I have been over-introducing myself through all my lengthy
descriptions of train journeys in India. I am quite surprised by the
extent of expertise on IR here in this railway-less land. Sometimes
I have dreamt of becoming a hobo for several weeks and clambering one
of the numerous goods trains that seem to be in no hurry on their way
to nowhere, and spend a few weeks travelling across the shunting yards
of the US. I believe it has been done. But then again, middle-class
fears prohibit us. Like Tagore says in one of his Haiku-inspired two-
liners - 'The greast they mingle easily with the lowest/ It is the person
in the middle that keeps a measured distance.'
In any event, here goes. I am mailing two parts - to Kanpur and then
Dli-Puri. These are the only train related sections in the rest of
the diary; the others deal with Puri, Calcutta, and the like, and I
may be posting those to S.C.I. over the next couple of weeks. I am
not sure the mailer can handle 750 lines, so I am mailing the two
amit (amit mukerjee) (email@example.com
============================ 408 lines ============================
Shatabdi to Kanpur
It was dusk when I had left for Bombay. Now it is not quite dawn as
my train, the newly-introduced Shatabdi, pulls out of New Delhi on its
nonstop five-hundred kilometer run to Kanpur. We are already some
fifteen minutes late because two passengers had mistakenly boarded the
other Shatabdi which is headed for Gwalior, and had to be redeemed.
This time our route is a little different, and also the door I am
standing at is on the other side. We cross the Jamuna near Indra
Prastha estate or IP, where the mammoth power plant can be seen
spewing its exhaust into the predawn stillness of the city, next door
to the sparkling office complexes of ITO. Wisps of vapour are
condensing in motionless parallel streaks over the river. There seems
to be quite a bit of water here, despite Uncle Ray's description of
the same river a few miles down where it becomes a trickle that any
five-year old can step across. Too much water is sucked out by the
needs of the growing metropolis. Apparently some of the largest and
finest watermelon are grown on what is actually the river bed at other
times of the year. The weak flow has resulted in large scale silting
at many places so that when the monsoons come the water overflows and
inundates neighbouring areas - even posh suburbs such as Model Town.
As we cross the river, a sight of unearthly splendour awaits us.
There is a small stretch - about a mile or so - that remains
undeveloped and is mostly forest. At this predawn hour the fog has
rolled in here, heavy layers of translucent mystery that seems to
capture all available luminosity from the surrounding half-darkness
and reflects it back, effectively hiding the secrets that lie beneath
it. Through this bright blanket of mist the treetops are jutting out
like rocks in some snowed-in arctic landscape. The surreality of this
scene reminds of the Greenland shoreline we had seen one autumn day
from an airplane a mile up, with hundreds of broken iceberg fragments
texturing the ocean, as far as the eye could see, looking like nothing
else in my experience.
Dawn is showing through at the fringes of the heavy cloud cover. The
train slows down - almost to a stop - near a stagnant pool of water
and the early morning sky, reflected on the lotus-leafed surface,
creates a Monet-ish visual cliche that unfailingly inspires a sublime
serenity. But the moment passes quickly as the elite train picks up
speed again and rushes through the sprawling ugliness that is urban
India. Signs flash by - painted in blue and red on whitewashed walls
- see Dr. Rajeev for unfailing cures to impotence. Menstrual
problems? Abortion? Sexually transmitted diseases? Solutions to all
of India's most personal problems are plastered over its white walls.
Here the fog is dissipated a little among the brick walls and endless
thatched roofs of the hovels, but soon we pass into the countryside -
travelling very fast now and the chill wind blows through the door
with numbing effect. Turning away from the long furrows with the cut
hay stacked up in neat bundles, I close the door and return to the
coach with its insipid tinted-glass windows.
A mother with two boisterous kids and their grandmother are in the
seats next to me. I have established some rapport with the kids using
my hand-clapping trick. The mother wants my corner seat for them.
Initially the child in me is a little reluctant to give up this
fragile insurance against the steady tedium of a railway journey, but
eventually I relent to their innocent appeal. I move across the
aisle, next to a bored teenage girl who stares out of the window with
glazed eyes. The windows are in any case fogged over from the outside
so that the larger trees appear as a stream of smudged shadows against
the tinted brown backlight of the sky. But one can begin to feel the
speed of the train now, as it is trying to make up for the lost time.
There is piped music in the compartments. This is an elite high-speed
train, meant for the upper classes, and all the coaches are
air-conditioned. The music changes from a soft, unobtrusive classical
flute to a snatch of pop music, and then it moves to a light-classical
hindi song. I start a conversation with the girl next to me, who is
still staring through the fogged window. Suddenly she turns to me
with an unexpected spark of animation and asks about the World Series
results from US baseball. She has returned from New York City earlier
in the year and feels nostalgic for baseball. Her father was at the
State Bank of India branch in New York and after five years in
Flushing Meadows, she is now in Delhi, studying at DPS. The
transition is hard but worth it, I tell her with the air of
experienced confidence that always accompanies unasked-for advice -
ultimately the diversity of experience is a much richer education than
mere book knowledge.
This morning the alarm went off at quarter to five. I stumbled out of
bed to the dining table where the faithful Swiza clock - bought in
Geneva when Molly was an infant-in-arms - was clanging away
unfailingly. Papa enjoins me from under his blanket to let it be but
I am now in a haze of
suddenly it stops on its own and even in my sleep I am a little
shamefaced for I realize that it is a manual clock and not the
electric gizmos that I have becomed accustomed to in the US: the
springwound alarm is bound - eventually - to run out of wind.
My bag is packed from last night. The taxi arrives at five - fifteen
minutes early - and I break out of my post-awakening nap, brush my
teeth, put on clothes and pick up the ticket and cash where Papa has
kept them on the table for me. Never leave on an empty stomach, Papa
says, and I grab a "Marie" biscuit. Ma and Papa come out to the
verandah to see me off; Papa asks if he should come to the station -
perhaps he wants to, but I don't feel like subjecting him to the cold.
The taxi rattles off, wheezing and puffing in its twenty-year old
Initially everyone was supposed to leave for Puri tomorrow, and I was
to board the train halfway at Kanpur, but Papa felt that it would be
too much of high tension for the whole family to expect this
unreliable soul to join from midway on a two-week vacation, so the
Puri trip was postponed by two days, necessitating my return from
Kanpur - another fifteen hours of train travel but that I don't mind
at all. As a side benefit, Babun will sit with us, and also, maybe
the IIT Delhi CAD/CAM conference organizers will come through with a
waiver of the Rs.3,500 conference fee, in which case I could go and
see who is there...
The train is slowing down and I head back to the door again. It stops
for the second time - quite unusual for a prestigious train like this
one. Braking at high speeds causes the train to chatter and vibrate,
and when it comes to a halt one can smell the odor of burning - a
little alarming but this is quite usual - "Must be new pads" - I am
assured by a non-uniformed railway type.
The fields stretch out in front of the open door. Not too far, a neat
little mud house, with smooth walls and sharp edges. A couple of
chimney-like structures mark what may be a rustic kiln a few hundred
yards off. Trees fade out in the distance in the morning haze.
Winter in India is an avian feast, as hundreds of species wing south
to the sun. Many are spotlessly white - starkly elegant against the
landscape of unevenly tilled soil, small copses and fields scarred by
human enterprise. One wonders how these birds keep themselves so
brilliantly white in a dusty land of such sunblanched muted colours;
where do they come from, what snowy landscapes must they have evolved
in, and how many thousands of miles they must have flown so I can see
and admire them here at this unscheduled rustic waystop.
Today is the third day of some anti-reservation riots that have broken
out in UP. The students have apparently blocked the tracks somewhere
near Etawah and this has brought the mighty Shatabdi to a halt. This
is a little station called Balrai, which is so small that it does not
merit a raised platform although there are indications that the
thought crossed someone's mind - building material can be seen nearby
- perhaps an electoral pledge from a bygone year.
About ten years back the notorious Toofan Express stranded me in just
such a rural station for the better part of the day, while it
untangled some remote operational problem. In general, Indian
officialdom does not believe in explaining lapses in the service.
Perhaps there is a sense that explanations may cause further disquiet.
That station had no facilities - perhaps a peanut vendor - and the
stranded passengers were left to stew under the hot sun - an
experience sufficient to turn one away from rail travel for life.
But this time it is not nearly as bad. The tangle of railway
officials and security police near the engine dissipates suddenly -
the light has turned green. The people on the ground read this silent
signal; in a flurry of movement, all are aboard and the train starts
to move immediately without waiting to confirm if everyone made it
back. This is part of the unwritten rules - no one was supposed to be
on the ground anyway. We pull out slowly, crossing the white spire of
the village temple, and the brick kiln where hundreds of men, women
and little boys are converting the very soil of their village into
houses for the distant city.
Through all this commotion, the girl in the seat next to me has not
left her seat once. A privileged child, she has been trained from
early childhood to ignore the realities beyond the tinted glass
windows. She sits with her face inches from the pages of a film
magazine - her glasses are in the bag overhead and she doesn't feel
like extracting them. Perhaps she feels that they do not become her.
I enjoin her to wear them if she is to keep on reading (in my best
avuncular tone), and I move out again to where the door is open and
the wind brings in the sundrenched air from India's heartland. Get
out of your blinkered life, and let the romance of India permeate your
sequestered existence, one feels like telling her...
We are stopped again at the station of Sarai Bhopat. A brick wall,
painted yellow, runs parallel to the tracks for a few hundred yards.
The architecture is distinctly Muslim, with serrated curves on the
doorways and little minarets at the house corners. A couple of boys
come out - they are the most excited by this happening and greet the
mighty train with the vociferous belligerence of the intimidated.
Eventually, when the train fails to move after several minutes, they
disappear to more interesting pursuits. Diary in hand, I step down
and cross the tracks for a closer look at the village.
A small group of women and children are gathered near the village
well. The water is maintained by the villagers themselves; if any
"insects fall in" then they cleanse it on their own with traditional
chemicals. The brick structure of the well is some twenty-five years
old, and is also painted yellow. With my appearance the women and
children disappear and are replaced by several men and older boys.
There are some thirty people in the village although it seems like
more because it is all so spacious and everyone can be seen since
there is so little privacy. Most of the men have had some education -
one is seven-fail, another three-fail. Most of the kids go to school
either in a nearby primary school or to a high school in Etawah, nine
kilometers away. Interestingly, distances along the railway line are
in kilometers, whereas distances between villages (foot/cycle) tend to
be in furlong or "krosh". The kids mostly walk the nine kilometers to
school, an experience I find hard to imagine though I know that Papa
in his childhood had gone through similar hardships. I catch hold of
a boy. Yes he goes to school but he isn't there now for a very good
reason - it doesn't open till noon. He doesn't want to be
interrogated by this stranger and runs away into the village.
They are also curious about me. I am from Delhi, I say at first,
uncertain whether to tell them about the very distant America where I
now live. Eventually it comes out however, and then they reveal their
perception of America. There is a doctor in a nearby village, and the
one wizened man in the group, who has travelled a little, tells me how
he had gone with the doctor and his wife the day their son went to the
US to study. Both the doctor's sons have studied in the US for two
years each. He recalls the story of how the doctor had to put down a
deposit of Rs. 10,000 to send him there; if the son returned within
the two years then another Rs 10,000 is needed, otherwise the
"government" pays back the money when the son returns. The truth
underlying this tale eludes me - is it the air ticket that he is
talking of, or is it some kind of exchange program, or is it money
paid to some corrupt middleman? In any event, the magic figure of ten
thousand rupees undoubtedly dominates the perception of this man about
America. He has vivid memories also of how the doctor's son, all
paperwork completed, went in and disappeared from sight beyond the
customs barriers, not to be seen again for two years.
Veiled women and little girls with buckets appear once in a while to
fetch water. I can sense them observing this strange cityperson from
the security of their veil.
Contrary to architectural impressions, the villagers are Yadavs, which
is the dominant Hindu caste in this part of the country. There are no
Muslims in the village; and I don't ask them there were any, maybe
before the trauma of independence. The newly elected Chief Minister
of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh, is a Yadav from another village some
five "krosh" away, and has stopped by at this village once or twice.
Everyone voted for him in the recent elections although the polling
station was in another village four "furlongs" away.
Have their been any improvements in their quality of life, I ask, in
the last fifteen years? A vigorous "No". What about seeds,
fertilizers, and agricultural advice? Sure, they have had some help:
they would sow the seeds but at the right time either water would not
be there or the advice was incomplete so they would not know some
critical fact, and the crop would all wither and die. Yes, water is a
big problem. Across the tracks they plant rice, and elsewhere it is
wheat. What kind of rice, I dare ask, and am given a list of some
twenty-five grades, all unknown to me - and the well-travelled one
repeats "rambhog", possibly one of the finer varieties and a source of
pride to those that grow it.
What help does arrive from the government is expropriated by the
richer landowners. The discrepancy isn't too great - the wealthier
families have about hundred acres, while the average family has about
twenty-five. What little one can get often comes at a steep price in
terms of fees to middlemen and other corrupt practices. There is a
strong perception of moral decay in the government and the political
system. Although they are very active in exercising their franchise,
deep in their hearts they feel that their fate will remain the same
irrespective of who comes to power.
I am asked about agriculture in the US. No expert myself, I say that
yes they are indeed very advanced in agriculture. Their vocabulary is
often a little strange to me, being a very local dialect of Hindi, but
we can communicate effectively - either I can catch the drift from the
gestures or the context, or the well-travelled one explains. I paint
for them my image of American agriculture, seen through the wondrous
eyes of the outsider. I remember pausing in the middle of a bicycle
ride one day to stare at a vast field of mowed-down hay, being rolled
up into large neat bundles by a single caterpillar; I felt like
Wordsworth confronted by the immense field and the solitary reaper,
albeit mechanical. So today I describe to these rustic souls half way
around the world, this sense of awe, this image of vast scales and
efficiencies. Huge fields, giant machines and ample fertilizers, all
conspiring together to produce one of the largest yields in the world.
They do not register much surprise though - maybe this is what they
expect America to be anyway.
Do they have television, I ask. Yes there is one in a village several
"krosh" away. Of course they watch the epic serial Mahabharat every
Sunday morning. Just as in the cities, one can imagine how life stops
here as people flock to the only TV in miles to watch television.
Some people in the village have radios - these run on batteries since
there is no electricity. The dominant mode of transport is walking,
but there are a few bicycles in the village. And there is the train,
of course, but seldom do they travel beyond the district town of
Etawah, some fifteen minutes away.
With their permission - given unhesitatingly - I take a stroll into
the village. The central path of the village goes in from the well.
There are some neem trees - its branches are used for brushing the
teeth and the leaves are eaten as medicine but it is never a dish like
in Bengal. There are a large number of cows, and a number of machines
with flywheels - much like the sugarcane juicing machines in the
cities - these are used to mince the fodder for the cows. Mud houses
with smooth flat walls and chiselled corners and curtained doors -
this appears to be the predominant design. Inside the half-open
curtains there is a lot of space, and some women working. In the
shade the village is an oasis of peace; the cows look at you with
their large eyes. Birdsounds. But at the back of my mind the train
is pulling me, about hundred yards away, the Shatabdi that represents
the security of the familiar, and there is the nagging concern that it
may leave without me were I to stray too far.
Some of the cows are wearing a piece of jute cloth. This is a
protection against the cold - "although the cows can't say as much,
they feel the cold just as we do. You and I must understand from
their behaviour." An interesting side story on how the cow's milk
becomes diluted if they are given this winter garment. While it is
hard to fathom the reasons why such a thing may occur, and it is easy
to scoff at such rustic "superstitions", one does so entirely at one's
peril, for it may well be an accurate distillation from generations of
I ask them about marriages. Do they marry within the village? Never.
The bride is sought from a nearby village, usually one where a
relation already exists. Why, the other day we had a wedding - the
girl from my wife's village. Or maybe one's sister is married there,
and she finds a match for someone here. The match is always
sanctioned by the parents. What about love marriages, I ask, surely
they happen once in a while? Oh yes - they all nod - but there is a
strict code. Those who go against their parents are disenfranchised
and have to leave home and mend their own ways themselves. Sometimes
they will return later for a visit, but essentially they will lead new
lives elsewhere from now on.
At this point, the train sounds the whistle - this stop was so long
that it cannot be ignored. The passengers who have been dispersed by
the long halt flock back; I bid my farewell with a namaste and retreat
to the train and its familiar world. A world of strife, of mistrust,
I told them, raising the eternal issues of urban versus rural life.
Yes, they had said, we have a lot of "humdardi" (fellow-feeling) in
the village - not like your cities. Why just the other day in Etawah
a man was stabbed in broad daylight and not a soul tried to stop the
killer - such things are unthinkable in our "dehaat". But for now, I
am back in my moving world, as it continues on the route to Kanpur.
It is getting a little serious now, all these delays. By now the
folks from IIT Kanpur who were supposed to take me from the station
must have given up waiting and returned to a worried Amitava Ghosh.
>From his letters and telegrams he appears to be an orderly man, given
to worry if things fail to behave as expected. But then again, this
must be an usual occurrence and will not crimp his schedule at all..
A few minutes later the train halts again - this time at a somewhat
bigger station - Phuphund. It is destined to wait here for the better
part of two hours. I get myself some guava and puri and strike a
conversation with two locals. I tell them how right now I was
supposed to be giving a seminar at Kanpur, and here I am in the
afternoon at this station many miles away. It turns out this is a
town of thirty thousand people, mostly farmers and a few traders. A
new NTPC power plant is coming up, expected to be completed within a
year. Mulayam Singh is very strong in this city, though he is not
uniformly liked. It was mostly a muscle election, this last one. The
code was simple - if you were not a Yadav, you had better not turn up
anywhere near a election booth. Rajputs, Lalas, and Thakurs - they
all stayed indoors. The country is corrupt to the core. Especially
UP and Bihar. My "West Bengal" is a little better, they think,
although I can't agree.
The second man, who has been quiet for most of the conversation,
speaks up now. "Sab bhrasht hai," he says in the tones of the prophet
- all are debased. Everybody is a liar, ninety-nine out of a hundred.
What they say is "pure" ghee turns out to be 60% dalda; even atta is
full of ground fodder. I say that while all this is true, the country
as a whole cannot be that bad; after all, forty years back we were
alright. Sure, he says - but the decay started right then - at the
moment of independence. I counter this by saying that forty years may
appear to be a long time for an individual, for a nation it is but a
brief instant, and surely things will change. He looks straight at me
a while after this - and says - "Where you come from, there must be no
liars. I doubt you were ever exposed to rampant hypocrisy and
falsehood. No one growing up in these parts is spared, for them it is
impossible to believe that there can be any good beneath this decay.
My children ask me - why isn't he telling the truth father, and I say
to them, sons, this is what India produces best - liars and
hypocrites." He is an eloquent man, and goes on to tell me that if
today by addressing some of the students at IIT Kanpur, I can light a
resolve for truth, for rectitude, for honesty - even in a single
student - then I will have blossomed a flower in a desert. Such
perhaps are the unsung Miltons that Thomas Gray laments in his Elegy.
I once wrote a poem, deeply influenced by a passage in Tagore's "Ebar
Touched though I am by his eloquence, I still see a factor missing in
his thesis, and I make a rejoinder in my disreputable hindi. This
"sankalp", this resolve that he talks of, is a function of one's age.
As a young man, it is easy to decide for honesty; in fact, it is the
norm. It is with age, as one sees the hardships of ones
"bibi-bachhe", and one is wallowing in the "bhrashtachar" all around,
that one needs "himmat" to hold fast to this resolve. By the time
one's hair is beginning to turn "safed", as in my protagonist, one has
been battered by this duplicity and dishonesty, and one's resolve
falls by the wayside. With this I have clearly struck a chord. Yes,
they concur, the young are more resilient. I fold hands and take my
Perhaps, one day, I may still have a future as a politician.
Our delays are due to riots at the station of Rura, a few miles ahead,
where protesters are blocking the track. Eventually the rioteers are
dispersed by the police, and we carry on, haltingly. At Rura, we see
an ugly crowd behind the railway crossing. Someone throws a stone at
the train with a loud clang and I am enjoined not to open the door.
Apparently tear gas has been used - a number of helmeted policemen in
riot gear are standing around, and one can sense tension in the air.
The train pulls past but makes several more halts before reaching
Kanpur, late by five hours on a five-hour run.
From: Amit Mukerjee <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Delhi to Puri (Neelachal)
Date: 17 Mar 1990 13:22:00 -0500
I returned from Kanpur to Delhi by Rajdhani (dep. ~4 AM). I had been up
all night talking to students (ITK has an active night-hackers group) and
was too tired to diarize on the train. So we pick up the thread from the
Puri train. This is officially called the Delhi-Puri Express, but it runs
alternately with the Neelachal express and there are some route variations,
and most people call it the Neelachal express as well. Here goes..
================================= 381 ===================================
Train to Puri
Last night I didn't get much sleep. Physics with Babun till about two
AM, when I asked him if he wanted to carry on and he said yes in a
mechanical way but we quit on the very next problem. I was reluctant
to go to sleep at all - we needed to leave by 4:30 for the train - so
I curled up with the "Yes Minister" that I had picked up in Pune -
Rita had been looking for this book and it was hard to find in the US.
Babun and I are reading it simultaneously - Babun feels that it has
many eminently quotable parts, and in this sense he even compares it
to Shakespeare; a comparison that most of us blinkered souls would
find ridiculous. I feel that the book is deadly serious beneath all
the comic scenarios, and like all good humour, it is this ring of
truth that carries the story.
Eventually, I dozed off. The alarm rang at 4:05 and I got up some
fifteen minutes later. The taxi came at quarter-to-five and we left
the house on the dot of five for the 5:40 train - undoubtedly a record
in tardiness for any activity in which Papa was involved. Papa
realized this himself and was extraordinarily subdued and muttered
something about needing to set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier. In
sharp contrast to the rest of the family, Papa simply cannot operate
under pressure. Beyond a point, he just gives up, and one cannot
press him further. However, this happens very infrequently, and
almost always is the result of somebody else's carelessness.
In any case, all's well that ends well, and we are now in the
Delhi-Puri Neelachal Express, hurtling through Uttar Pradesh once
again. Our three-tier compartment is relatively empty - perhaps some
passengers were scared away by the riots going on. I have been
telling everyone about ugly crowds at Rura and I peer out constantly
for signs of trouble but the train passes through smoothly, taking me
through Kanpur station for my third visit in four days.
Beyond Kanpur, the landscape starts to mellow and greenery begins to
appear - a few clumps of banana, waterlogged fields of rice, and the
occasional pond and water basin. The same startlingly white birds -
egrets, I believe. Ragged little boys chasing each other amidst the
Travelling with us today is Sri Banamali Suar, MA, LLB, of the
Jagannath Temple in Puri. He is a Panda or temple priest, inheritor
of an ancient way of life. Nonetheless, Mr. Suar has educated himself
in both eastern and western tradition, the latter mostly for defensive
purposes when he finds his favorite Hinduism under attack. "Unity,
equality, fraternity - the slogan of the French revolution - was
really initiated by Lord Jagannath," he says. This touchstone of
western tradition, allegedly inherited from Aristotle and Plato and
then reformulated in the seventeenth century by Rousseau, was actually
Indian in origin. There was, after all, a lot of trade between India
and Greece in those days. While I can agree with him in general, I
think he has not substantiated this claim sufficiently; in fact he
makes no attempts to do so. Somewhat self-grandiosely perhaps, I find
his opinions sound at the core, but covered in layers of prejudice,
the overreaction of a millenium of tradition against the upstart
challenge of a materially superior civilization. All the findings of
modern science, says Mr. Suar, have been stated in the Vedas. For
example, the Gita says that in the beginning there was darkness
(Chapter XII), and physics is just now awakening to this reality.
Modern physics cannot penetrate the mists that preceded the big bang
but our rishis could do so with their unrivalled insight.
His conversation is sprinkled with analogies, and I am reminded of the
talk of other holy men such as Dadu's guru, or Swami Vivekananda
himself, for that matter. What power there is in an analogy, how easy
it is to see more clearly for it. Yet one of the mortal enemies of
rational thought. When I question him about the oft-quoted Gita sloka
on caste and Swadharma - (paradharma bhayabahah) - he gives a good
analogy himself. Say two people are ill; one has typhoid, and I have
jaundice. Then it is his dharma to take medicine for typhoid, and it
is mine to take the jaundice pill. To switch these would undoubtedly
be bhayabahah! I counter by saying that typhoid and jaundice are
matters of the body, corporeal conditions that are easily
differentiated. But here we are talking of the spirit; why should my
soul be any different from yours? And even if it is, how is one to
determine the distinction? Despite my argument, it has touched a
nerve in me, this powerful analogy.
Certainly one can agree that there are intrinsic differences between
human beings, that each person has a distinct innate nature. Yes,
perhaps, given one's sensibilities, some courses of action are "better"
than others, and perhaps there is an unique field in which every man
is destined for greatness (whatever that may be). But this thesis is
beset with problems - what is my criteria to say that one course of
action is "better" than another? To answer this, one must first
determine how one state of existence is better than another, and this
question, of course, has bested better minds than mine. Secondly, one
must identify which courses of action are likely to achieve these
desirable states, a problem that has confounded human beings forever,
and has given rise to astrology. In the parlance of AI, the search
space is infinite, there is no state evaluation function, and the
theorems that define the results of actions are extremely nonlinear
and subject to wild divergence from small perturbations. Faced with
these questions one quickly realizes how little has been achieved in a
thousand years of science, and how far we are from the truly
fundamental questions of life. This is of course why faith can still
fight reason. In the face of such overwhelming uncertainty, every man
must resolve the dilemma of his self-existence, and this answer is
what one calls religion, I suppose. At the deepest level, the answers
are taken in a spirit of unquestioned faith, and form the basis for a
myriad religions, one for every thinking soul. After all, even
science must ultimately rely on faith, for who can say that tomorrow
the apple will not start to "fall" upwards, that "laws" must indeed
Sri Banamali Suar is on a crusade for the glories of Hinduism; after
science it is ancient India's prowess in mathematics. He refers to
the book "Vedic Mathematics", written by the erstwhile Shankaracharya
of the Puri math - Sri Bharathi Krishna Tirthaji Maharaj. This is
quite a coincidence, for it is one of my favourite books, a true
"find" during my last visit to India, and I am given to boring my
friends with it. But I am disappointed that the book lacks a
scholastic development, and complain to Mr. Suar about the unorthodox
presentation - the lack of references, dates, or context for the
various neat formulae and short cuts (sutras) presented in the book.
Chhotomashi says that most are from the Atharva Veda or its
commentaries, but Mr. Suar is not quite sure - I feel he may not have
read the book himself. But he has an excuse for some of the lapses -
Sri Guru Maharaj did not live to see most of the book, and it was
compiled based on his teachings.
Mr. Suar also has an interesting repertoire of stories. He tells us
of the Kalinga war, which caused such wanton destruction of human life
that bloodthirsty Emperor Ashoka was moved to nonviolence after
seeing the battlefield. If we consider the population of the world
and the percentage that died in any war, the Kalinga war had ten times
the per capita casualty of the "World Wars", and should therefore be
considered a world war by itself. The Kalinga resistance was
organized by a spirited young lady Karubaki, who managed to unite the
entire population under one banner, caste creed race notwithstanding,
and resisted Ashoka to the bitter end. They may have lost the war,
but they won the battle, for after this Ashoka gave up violence
forever and adopted the ways of Buddha. So struck was Ashoka by the
beauty and spirit of Karubaka, that he eventually married her as his
thirteenth queen, and she agreed only on condition that he give up his
violent ways. Hate can never win, it is always love that wins in the
One story leads to another. This one is about Radhakrishnan, the
philosopher president of modern India, who at one point was the Indian
ambassador to Moscow. Apparently Radhakrishnan once related the story
of Kalinga to Stalin - so effective was his narrative that even Stalin
the ironclad communist was moved to tears. Subsequently Stalin
declared that he would live no more than fifteen days after parting
with Radhakrishnan. Before Radhakrishnan was to return to India,
Stalin gave him a personal interview, something he "never" gave any
dignitaries - and within fifteen days of Radhakrishnan's departure,
Stalin was dead. An impressive fable for the twentieth century.
What about the Juggernaut image of Lord Jagannath, I ask him. Yes, he
says, it is possible that in the olden days, when there were no roads
and people would come to Puri having trekked through the wilderness
for weeks, they would be so wildly enthused that they would do
anything to get close, to touch the chariot that carried the Lord on
his annual pilgrimage outside the temple. And yes, the wheels of the
chariot were huge and heavy - some fifteen feet high, and it is
possible that people could have been crushed beneath it, but this was
by no means an express intent of the organizers of the chariot
festival; it is one of the many instances where a superficial view of
an ancient tradition is misinterpreted and misrepresented in the
The temple is managed by a board, and is extremely wealthy through
donations from its devotees, although not as rich as the temple at
Tirupati. Mr Suar was in Delhi to look after the interests of the
temple in a case before the Supreme court. Apparently the state
government of Orissa has challenged the temple's supremacy in
confirming the veracity of the temple documents chronicling the lives
of its many devotees, and the temple was fighting it. They had won
the case at the state level, but were facing a challenge in the
Supreme court. Fortunately the new government were in their favour
and had dropped the case which is why we have the benefit of Mr Suar's
interesting company on this long train journey back to Puri.
It is afternoon now and we have lunch - an ample fare of parantha and
sabji with some of Ma's stock of achar for the trip. We eat from the
"disposable" styrofoam plates that Ma had bought during her US visit -
we wash them and keep them for tomorrow's meal - nothing is thrown
away unless it has to be. I start some Math problems with Babun but
we do not progress far; eventually I curl up on the upper bunk with
Our compartment is relatively empty; it appears that some of our
co-passengers are with friends elsewhere on the train and are mostly
absent. Ma and Papa have the two side seats facing each other and
Babun and I are on the upper berths. We pass through the low hills of
Bihar in the evening, and cross Gaya. This is the Gaya that was the
destination of the dust-and-grime-covered "Gaya passenger" that would
run from Sealdah and we would get off at Shamnagar and even as a
schoolboy freshly back from Geneva I would sense the difference in
this train, its ancient rust-colored coaches with their bathrooms, a
romantic aura about it, a sense of adventure, of lands far away, and
the name of this land was Gaya. As an adult today, Gaya fails to
evoke any romance -just another town in Bihar with vague religious
connotations. Beyond Gaya, we reach Gomoh sometime in the night, just
another station in the yellow platform lights through the drowsy
windows of another long distance train, the windows that protect the
world of dimly-lit coaches and sleeping passengers from the tireless
bustle of the Indian station platform. Indian Railways has nine
divisions, and we started at Delhi under Northern Railway, passing
over into Eastern Railway at Mughal Sarai, and here at Gomoh we move
into the jurisdiction of South-Western Railway, which will see us
through all day tomorrow until we reach Puri.
Next morning, back at the door again. We are making painful progress
through Bankura on the chord line to Kharagpur; somewhere - maybe at
Gomoh - we shifted to a diesel engine, and now from the door you can
see the fumes rising from the engine some twenty coaches ahead of us.
They have practically stopped using coal engines these days, and this
is what enhances the romance of coal - steam and sweat mingling in the
oppressive heat inside the engine as the dimly visible stoker shovels
coal into the furnace, flecks of coaldust stinging your cheek all the
way down the train at the coach door and at the barred window -
coating the seats with a thin dark sheen, the sound of the steam going
huff-puff as the train labours up a mild grade, the whistle, the naked
little boys with their bright big eyes and the black cord around their
waist looking up from the trackside, the cranks driving the wheels
that are half-full and half-spoke, rotation after relentless rotation
.. I recall the tape that Podraig Yeats - so reluctant to admit that
his grandfather was W.B. - had sent me after he returned to Ireland,
almost hundred minutes of pure steam engine sound, recorded with
loving care in the grades and turns and shunting yards of Great
The sun is up now, struggling against the remnants of the heavy
morning mist. Reflected against the occasional stream or suddenly
slicing though a clump of eucalyptus, the sun adds a touch of
brilliant colour to a landscape lulled by fog. We are in Bengal now
and it is green everywhere from the rains, and one can breathe the
moisture in the air. In our third year in I.I.T. a large area near
here had flooded - I am not sure which river it was that had breached
its bank - and I joined the relief boat ferrying supplies to what had
become an island in the dismal inundated countryside. Even the rail
lines were submerged, and the first day it happened hundreds of
luckless passengers had to walk for tens of kilometers to reach their
homes. As frequently happens in the Indian sub-continent, there was a
drought here the very next year.
We reach Kharagpur, the familiar divided station with the ticket
counter in between the platforms - the longest in the world, according
to the Guinness book of records. The puri-sabji from the thela-wallah
is fresh and good, and we supplement it with some of Ma's hoarded
achar, and wash it all down with tender daab, flakes of the green
coconut cover chopped up with such finesse by the vendor with his
machete, and finally he makes a spoon out of the rind for scooping out
the tender coconut whites from the insides.
We pull out of Kharagpur the same direction we came from but we branch
into the Hijli line which will pass very close to the back of the IIT
campus - what we used to call the "Madras" line. I point out to Ma
and Papa the old tower which used to be a prison, where several
nationalists had been executed by hanging in the pre-independence era.
The upper floors of the tower were allegedly the haunt of their
unrequited souls. The prison grounds had been converted into
workshops, and here we had spent many a fruitless hour learning the
machine shop trade. "Not filefilefile, but fiLe, fiLe, fiLe", I
remember the man in the fitting shop instructing us on the patient art
of achieving a flat surface with a file. The workshops were looked
down upon by most of the fresh recruits, something that is perhaps
built in to the ethos of the Indian elite - the babu's may not dirty
their hands by actually doing something. I guess this is a reason why
IIT engineers are such good designers but poor mechanics. I look for
other landmarks of the campus, but it is the wrong direction and I
don't see any, not even the NCC Air Force building. A number of
multistoried staff quarters can be seen and then a barren field
prominently fenced with barbed wire marks the end of the educational
In the afternoon we cross the long bridge across the Mahanadi into
Cuttack. I remember crossing this bridge during my three-day bicycle
expedition from Kharagpur to Puri some ten years ago. It was evening
of the second day and we were tired and looking for a place to crash
in, and we reached the bridge with the promise of Cuttack brilliantly
lit just across the river, but the bridge would never end and we kept
on pedalling, with the traffic and the railings from the bridge
passing by, pedal after pedal after pedal after pedal...
That was a wild bicycle trip. One Sunday afternoon Jhuntumama landed
up at my hostel: he had just bicycled in from Shamnagar, was on his
way to Puri some four hundred kilometers away, and would I be
interested in joining him tomorrow? Nary a warning before this. So I
took care of a few things that were due that week, and next morning
the two of us set out at four in the morning with twenty boiled eggs
obtained from the canteen manager in lieu of meals for the week. My
bicycle didn't even have a pedal, just the stem that had been welded
on, but we did reach Puri, and our train this morning will pass
through many of the same towns - Bhadrak, Balasore, Cuttack,
Bhubaneswar, and eventually Puri. Jhuntumama had copied the route map
by hand from a high school atlas, and this piece of paper saw a lot of
action during the trip. In Puri we approached a police station asking
them to certify that we had cycled in from Kharagpur and this of
course they could not do, but the inspector did make the effort to
write on the back of this rapidly disintegrating map sheet that two
such persons were seen in Puri with bicycles, having allegedly
pedalled in from Calcutta and Kharagpur, officially sealed by the xxx
official of the Orissa State Police, Puri. I wonder if that stained
and tattered page is still around somewhere..
An endless stream of vendors parade through the compartment, hawking
tea, coffee, daab, ghughni, jhaalmuri, toothpaste, toothbrush, locks,
chains and other travel accessories. Talking of locks, there was some
excitement in our compartment earlier in the morning. The person in
the berth below me spends most of his time with his cronies at another
seat. He had left his luggage there overnight, chained to the steel
post under the seat. In the morning he rubbed his eyes and looked to
check that his suitcase was safe, but it wasn't there. Apparently a
thief had broken the handle to remove it from the chain but the
suitcase was a little too heavy to carry off without a handle so it
had been abandoned on a nearby rack, where it was eventually
A ragamuffin boy comes along and sweeps the train. Post fact, he goes
around taking donations for this benevolent deed. Most passengers do
not grudge him some small change, for thirty hours out of Delhi now
the train is quite a mess. Later I find three of these kids lounging
near the door. Do they go to school? To my surprise, they do. They
go to school in the evenings, after spending the day trying to help
out the family earning in this manner. In school their "Didi"* gives
them some milk and roti to eat - ample inducement for school no doubt.
They have learnt the oriya alphabet and I produce a sheet of paper for
them to demonstrate their abilities on. They are quite proud of their
prowess and laboriously produce an oversize scrawl on the page. The
yougest is only seven but even he sits down on a cramped rack in a
little shelf near the door and pens out his name letter by letter.
The leader of this trio appears to be a boy called Shankar, but his
handwriting isn't nearly as good as that of the third boy Babuli.
Babuli claims to be twelve but Shankar berates him for inflating his
age. Babuli's teeth are stained badly - he appears to have festering
gums. They are all neighbours in Bhubaneswar, and they share the
money collected from sweeping the train. I give them some more money
and urge them not to give up their studies. Advice comes easy to the
(FOOTNOTE: * It is an interesting Indian trait how even utter
strangers in the street are addressed by terms of one's closest
relations: "Dada"s, "Didi"s and "Behenji"s abound. )
Subsequently I ask a somewhat older youth whether he goes to school.
No, he says, he stopped at class five, and he lights a cigarette
(Charms) that he buys loose from the peripatetic vendor, perhaps as a
defence mechanism against my troublesome questions. Why did he quit,
I ask - because he got into "business". The nature of his business is
a little unclear from his present circumstances, but I do not feel
like pursuing it further especially since he seems a little defiant,
suppressed belligerence like a cornered animal, and it shows in the
absorbed air with which he is smoking the cigarette.
Puri is quite close now, maybe a half-hour away. The train emptied
out at Bhubaneswar, and now it is just the four of us and Mr. Banamali
Suar in the compartment. Mr Suar tells us that the site of the
Kalinga war (approx. 400 B.C.) is a place called Dhauli on the river
Gaya a little distance from Bhuvaneswar, and has a memorial erected by
the Japanese government on a hill. It is supposed to be visible from
the train, and Mr. Suar and I search intently looking for white
memorials on small hills before a river, but perhaps the line has
moved or Mr. Suar is mistaken for we see no monument at all.
Mr. Suar tells us some more about places to visit from Puri; we should
go sightseeing tomorrow and visit the temple day after. Mr. Suar
gives me his address in Puri; he wants to be our Panda at the temple.
He lives very close the the "lion's gate" - it takes me a while to
realize that this is singha-dwar - perhaps he feels that staying in
America must have corrupted my idiom. We are not to listen to anyone
else in the matter of choosing a Panda, there are too many charlatans
around. If others approach us - as undoubtedly they will, for most of
the Pandas are a cantankerous lot - we are to give them his name and
this will keep them from troubling us further. Between 8:30 and 10:30
in the morning we are to take a rickshaw directly to his house and he
will take us personally for a darshan and puja to the all powerful
Lord Jagannath. Who is Lord Jagannath? He has no teeth, no legs, no
form - he is the very image of the formless, Him whom we worship in
our own image.
Even as Mr. Suar is talking, the train passes through the backyards of
several houses and pulls into the station, near a large sign that says
"Stop ticketless travel. Welcome to Puri". Mr. Suar is in a hurry and
is gone after a quick see-you-day-after. What Mr. Suar does not know
is that all his talking is in vain, for Ma is not very impressed by
him, and it is she who is interested in the Puja.
From: Vijay Balasubramanian <email@example.com
Date: 18 Mar 1990 14:48:00 -0500
Just finished going thru' the Shatabdi and Neelachal rides by Amit. Needless to say, it was time well spent. I have a few questions about the Kanpur Shatabdi,
in this context.
1. Is the K. Shatabdi White-n-Blue colored like its Bhopal counterpart?
2. Does it have a full-fledged AC buffet/pantry car?
3. Does it have a " AC First Class coach? Or is it I AC -cum- II AC
I guess the authorities have slackened on the no-opening-doors-while-train-in-motion rules even for the Shatabdi and Rajdhani Exps. I recollect my '86
journey on the Hwh.-Delhi Rajdhani Exp., when the train had slowed down
considerably near Shikohabad, inspiring me to have a peek at the WAP-1
locomotive some 10 coaches away. Hardly had 10 mts. ticked away when
Mr. Grumpy-Coach-Attendant turned up from nowhere explaining that standing near
open doors was discouraged in the Rajdhani Exps., and I had to return to my
seat by the window. But I would soon get away with it, as in my next
Delhi-Bombay Rajdhani journey I spent a relaxing 30-odd mts. at the door, taking
some snaps in the process, while the train was speeding thru' the suburbs of
From: Amit Mukerjee <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Shatabdi Kanpur colours
Date: 18 Mar 1990 20:01:00 -0500
Re: vijay's questions, all I can say is that the train is cream and blue.
I do not remember seeing a pantry car.
As you can see from my diary, there was no problem at all with open doors.
The same applies to Rajdhani. Grumpy or otherwise, TT's are a rare breed
to see except for the start and end of the journey.
From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email
Subject: USA by Amtrak (contd.)
Date: 22 Mar 1990 11:02:00 -0500
I have just concluded my journey across the western 2/3 of the US by
Amtrak. Here are some of my comments for what they are worth:
I boarded the "Southwest Chief" bound for Chicago from Los Angeles on
the morning of Monday the 5th of March at La Plata, Missouri. The
"Southwest Chief" like all the long distance trains west of the
Mississippi is a "superliner" consisting of double deck coaches.
Most of the seats/sleeping areas are on the upper-level. There are
luggage storage areas on the lower-level along with seating for
the handicapped/elderly and toilets. The train arrived 20 minutes late
and we were off towards Chicago. We crossed the Mississippi at Fort
Madison, Iowa and reached Galesburg, Illinois a little after 1pm. Most
of the country we travelled through was rich farmland.
I got off at Galesburg. I had five hours to wait for the westbound
"California Zephyr" the train from Chicago to Oakland. I had wanted
to travel by the Zephyr because it traverses both the Rockies and the
California/Nevada Sierras. However, the Zephyr uses the Burlington
Northern railroad system; as the Chief uses the Atcheson, Topeka and
Santa Fe system (Santa Fe for short), I had to change stations at
Galesburg! The person on-duty at the Amtrak station in Galesburg kindly
gave me a ride to the other station. Galesburg is famous as the site
of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and as the place where "popcorn"
Sometime after six pm, we were off on the Zephyr. Through the night, we
travelled through Iowa (Ottumwa, Osceola, Mt. Pleasant etc.) and crossed
the Missouri river into Lincoln, Nebraska. We reached Denver, Colorado
in the morning after 8 am (Mountain time). They backed the train into
the station, a fact I found very amusing.
I got off at Denver to spend a day sight-seeing. I couldn't have chosen
a worse day, but I wasn't to realise it until later. I decided to go to
Boulder but got trapped by a blizzard on the way back. The bus I was on
was stuck on the highway for 8 hours! We finally made it to Denver
The next morning I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the west-bound
Zephyr was on time inspite of the fact that Denver had been paralyzed
for the past 18 hours. The snow-storm had been a blessing in disguise;
I was about to embark on one of the most spectacular rail-journeys of
(To be continued)
From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email
Subject: USA by Amtrak (contd.)
Date: 29 Mar 1990 14:37:00 -0500
Continuing with my (perhaps boring!!)narrative of my journey across
the US by Amtrak, let me begin this segment by describing the train
The "California Zephyr" runs daily from Chicago Union Station to
Oakland, California. It uses tracks owned and operated by four
railways; The Burlington Northern (BN) from Chicago to Denver,
The Rio Grande Western from Denver to Salt Lake City,
The Union Pacific from Salt Lake City to Winnemucca, Nevada,
The Southern Pacific from Winnemucca to Oakland. There is no direct
rail connection between Oakland and San Francisco except for the
Bay Area Rapid Transit system tunnel under the Bay which (I believe)
uses a different gauge. There is a Southern Pacific line from
San Francisco to San Jose which connects at San Jose with the Oakland
to LA Southern Pacific main line. Amtrak does not serve San Francisco
except via a shuttle bus from Oakland.
At Salt Lake City, the westbound Zephyr splits up into three parts;
The Pioneer runs to Seattle via Boise, Idaho and Portland, Oregon
and traverses the famous Columbia river gorge; The Desert Wind runs
to LA via Las Vegas, Nevada traversing the California and the Nevada
deserts; the residual Zephyr goes across the Sierras via Reno to
Now for the journey from Denver to Oakland. The weather had cleared in
Denver after the snowstorm of the night before and the Zephyr left on
time. When the train left the station a voice on the intercom advised
us to get our cameras ready to capture the scenery to come. Contrary
to what is sometimes assumed, Denver sits below the Rockies on
a mile-high plateau and not in the Rockies. The front edge of the
Rockies begin 10-12 miles west of Denver.Soon our train began climbing
via a series of turns and loops. The Zephyr's 14-15 coaches were being
pulled by three Amtrak diesel-electric engines. The view out of the
window was pretty with the snow-covered slopes and valleys and the pine
trees and bushes.
There were many tunnels too as we approached the continental divide, the
highest point on our journey. We entered the 6.2 mile long Moffat Tunnel
at 9,239 feet just east of the divide. We exited west of the divide and
were greeted by the sight of numerous skiers in an area known as "Winter
Park". The train traversed through one canyon after another and the view
was spectacular. Soon we were running along the Colorado river (BTW
Colorado in spanish means red; the name comes from the color of the
walls of the canyons in that area; anyone who has seen the Grand Canyon
should know what I mean). We passed through the pretty communities of
Glenwood Springs (near Aspen) and Grand Junction and as the sun was
setting entered Utah near the Ruby Canyon.
We had technically left the Rockies and were actually descending. We
had also entered desolate eastern Utah (a fact accentuated by the
setting sun). Thompson, Utah is called the nation's atomic warehouse
because of the plentiful Uranium deposits. A couple of hours after
sunset we reached the community of Helper, Utah, so named because in
the days of steam, additional (helper) engines were added to a train
to help it cross the Wasatch mountains on the way to Salt Lake City.
Obviously, I missed the scenery of the Wasatch in the darkness. We
finally reached Salt Lake City around midnight after stopping at
Provo (the home of BYU).
To be continued, Kumar
From: aravind <email@example.com
Date: 30 Mar 1990 19:34:00 -0500
It was indeed pleasant to have Vijay pop into this "sweatshop"
and to be able to talk to him in person, if only for a short period.
In response to his comment about (re)luring me to IRFCA,
I don't have anything new to contribute to this forum, having
been away from India for four years.
So I guess I'll talk about a different kind of trip ...
Kumar's account of his rail
journeys across the continental US brought back a flood of memories of a trip
that I did in the summer of '87.
This unique feature of this trip was that it was completely done with
muscle power - of the two-unmotorized-wheels-and-pedals variety.
I had the privilege of crossing the US on a bicycle,
in a group consisting mostly of college kids. We did have a van that carried
The starting point was San Francisco, on June 17. And it took us all of nine
weeks to end up in New York City.
The high points of the ride
(literally and figuratively) were crossing the various
mountain passes on the way.
Here are some highlights from the west: (San Franciso - Denver portion)
Sierra Nevada: About 150 miles north-east of San Fransico, we crossed
this range at the Donner Pass (~7000 feet). The train that Kumar took
in the reverse direction also uses this same pass, although it disappears
undergound just at the pass. The view from here is stunning - you can see
way down into the valley to the east, including Donner lake.
There are some interesting rail stories in connection with this area.
The story of Chinese labourers building the railway in the 19th century is
appalling - they were treated little better than slaves.
Blizzards and avalanches are common in winter. They must have taken a
Also of interest is how they got the line open after a blizzard. Two
engines with special snow-removal equipment left from Sacramento and Reno
and worked their way to the top. It was apparently a moment of great joy
when they sighted each another ...
Great Basin: From the Sierra Nevada to the Wasatch mountains in
Utah is the Great Basin, which covers most of Nevada and Western Utah.
This region is quite dry, and is covered by scrub-like vegetation, except
the Salt desert, which has just a layer of salt. The route we took - the
shoulders of Interstate 80 - parallel the train route. The town that
Kumar mentions in his message -- Winnemucca - has an cute billboard
announcing it to I-80 travelers -
WINNEMUCCA: 5 BILLION PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE.
Just before the town of Elko, we had to cross a 3/4mile tunnel. I
wouldn't recommend this to anyone with a weak heart. 18-wheelers go by at
70 mph while you tremble along a tiny ledge.
Crossing the salt desert on the way to Salt Lake City is a
demanding exercise. There is no place to get water for 50 miles.
We crossed it early in the morning. This would have been a real challenge
without our van.
Wasatch Mountains: We crossed these just east of Salt Lake City, again
on the shoulders of faithful interstate 80. (they don't bother
bicyclists on interstates in western states).
Although the pass is nearly at 8000 feet, there's not much to view from
Eastern Utah and Western Colorado: This is mostly uninteresting stuff
until we hit the western slopes of the Rockies at Steamboat Springs, CO.
The route we took was well to the north of Kumar's train route.
We did pay a visit to the Dinosaur Nat'l Monument in Utah, where there is
a big quarry filled with dinosaur bones.
Rocky Mountains: The town of Steamboat Springs is where the Rockies ascent
begins. This is gorgeous country. At this time of the year, only the
peaks in the distance are snow-capped -July is the month of flowers!
And riding on a bike is second only to hiking for admiring flowers. When
you're panting uphill at 4 mph, it's almost as slow as walking.
The point where we cross the Continental Divide is called Rabbit Ears Pass
- at 9400 feet. Actually, this is not quite a pass but more a small
plateau, which makes the ride up all the more rewarding. You get to stay
up a while before hurtling down.
The continental divide is the imaginary
line running along the spine of the continent that divides the eastern and
the western watersheds - streams bubbling up to the west of the divide
drain to the Pacific or die in the desert. streams on the east
form the mighty Mississippi basin.
There is one more pass left to cross - the highest on the route, Cameron
Pass, at 10500 feet. We tackle this after spending a night at a tiny town
in a high, rather broad valley at 8000 feet. We had to sleep outside,
and boy was it cold in July. We had to start at temperatures in the 30s.
It warmed up pretty quickly, though.
This is also the most stunning portion of the ride in terms of scenery.
The peaks are a lot closer than at the Divide. We are almost at the
tree-line at the top of Cameron pass. And for the next 60 miles, we sail
down Poudre Canyon into Fort Collins. This is a great ride... equitable
rewards for hard work!
In Fort Collins, a rail line runs down the middle of a street. A few
times a day, a freight train runs down the street ... almost as if it were
on the asphalt itself. I tried to get a picture of a train head-on, but
couldn't make it... I understand that this is not unique by any means,
though. There are apparently quite a few spots in the US where a
rail-line is embedded in a road.
We had a great time in Boulder. Luckily, there was no blizzard to strand
us on the road-side! Boulder is much closer to the mountains than Denver
proper. It was the friendliest place on our ride.
I won't bother you guys with the rest of the ride - it was pretty
pedestrian, except where we crossed the Appalachians in West Virginia.
If I have bored you with all these arcane geographical details, please excuse
me. Maybe Kumar's story and this one will motivate some of you to look at some
maps! There's some really "cool" country out there in the west ....
From: Manish Malhotra <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Trains in Films
Date: 31 Mar 1990 14:20:00 -0500
Maybe this has not been discussed before. I am interested in compiling
a list of movies in which trains/stations play an important symbolic
role, or even if there are lot of scenes with trains. I am more
interested in the movies in which a significant part of the movie
is shot in a train compartment or in which trains symbolise something
Let me start by listing some titles :-
1. Brief Encounter (Dir : David Lean)
For me the movie would have lost half of it's charm had it not
been for the trains/station/ and the cafeteria at the station.
One of the best love-stories ever made !
The trains carry a lot of symbolic meaning in this movie and I shall
not spoil it by talking about it.
2. Stranger on the train :- (dir : Hitchcock)
Everyone knows about this.
3. The Lady vanishes : (Hitchcock)
4. Out of Africa
Can't seem to recall anymore right now. So guys, contribute to this
list. Of course, I wouldn't put 'Bullet-train' in this category !
From: Manish Malhotra <email@example.com
Subject: One more
Date: 31 Mar 1990 14:24:00 -0500
One more film :-
North By Northwest (Hitchcock).
Was Alfred (I mean Hitchcock) as much a train freak as we are ?
From: raja <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Trains in Films
Date: 31 Mar 1990 14:31:00 -0500
There was a Hindi film in which
Rajesh Khanna, the stationmaster,
is wrongly accused of murdering
a young lady who takes refuge in
his house. I forget the name.
From: venky <email@example.com
Subject: Trains in movies
Date: 31 Mar 1990 15:03:00 -0500
Following up on Manish's postings on trains in movies, here
are some more movies in which trains have played an importnat
- Murder on the Orient Express: THE classic Poirot tale from Agatha
Christie. Boasts a top-notch star cast and lavish train scenes.
- Silver Streak: A comedy/thriller set on an Amtrak train from
Chicago to San Francisco with Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor and
Jill Clayburgh. Racy and quite well done.
- Breakheart Pass: Based on the Alistair Mclean story, this
movie is set in the mid-19th century, starring Charles Bronson.
- High Noon: With Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Though none
of the action in the movie actually features a train, the
whole story (set in real time - i.e all the action in the movie
is supposed to take place between 10 AM and 12 noon) revolves
around the arrival of a train at noon. Don't miss this one
if you get a chance!
I also remember a Hindi movie (back in the heady 'disaster'-prone
days of 'Towering Inferno' and 'The Poseidon Adventure') called
'The Burning Train'. It featured a luxurious train quite unlike
anything seen on IR, built at (needless to say) enormous cost.
Avoid this movie at all costs!!!!
From: J Mukerji <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Trains in Films
Date: 31 Mar 1990 14:10:00 -0500
Excerpts from mail: 31-Mar-90 Trains in Films Manish Malhotra@cs.email. (1019)
> Maybe this has not been discussed before. I am interested in compiling
> a list of movies in which trains/stations play an important symbolic
> role, or even if there are lot of scenes with trains.
OK - here are some more that come to mind:
1. Van Ryan's Express
2. Doctor Zhivago
Oh those beautiful shots of trains in the Siberian snowfields and in the Urals!
3. Taking of Pelham 123
Movie based on a story of the hijacking of a number 6 subway train
(Lex. Ave. Local) in New York City.
+1 201 957 5986,
AT&T Bell Laboratories,
MT 3K-423, 200 Laurel Ave.,
Middletown NJ 07748
From: Chitta R. Baral <email@example.com
Subject: Re: Trains in Films
Date: 31 Mar 1990 23:42:00 -0500
One movie which I can remember is :
Bullet Train-- A thriller in which a bomb is planted on a train.
From: Dheeraj Sanghi <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Trains in Films
Date: 31 Mar 1990 23:58:00 -0500
Have you seen the movie Izazaat, with Rekha and Naseeruddin Shah.
They were married to each other and then took divorce. They meet
again in the waiting room of a Railway Station and have to spend a
night there. Then they remember their past lives.
From: Manish Malhotra <email@example.com
Date: 02 Apr 1990 12:18:00 -0500
Here follows the copy of an article I recd. in response to my
query about trains in films. Those who follow rec.arts.movies
and/or rec.railroad should have it already.
For those of you who missed earlier postings on the subject, the list
is restricted to what I like to call Railway Movies of the First Kind:
those where the railway aspect can be considered one of the most important
elements in the movie. Normally trains or tracks or subways or stations or
railway construction or railway employees will be in the movie for well over
half its length. There are a few exceptions based on discretion.
Some examples of movies with notable railway scenes which nevertheless
do NOT qualify for the list are: Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest,
Brief Encounter, Go West, The Seven-per-cent Solution, Doctor Zhivago.
With the above criteria in mind, I am always interested in hearing about
additions or corrections to the list. (For instance, some of the decisions
as to whether or not to include a movie were based on capsule summaries in
various movie guidebooks, and these can be misleading.)
"Type !" people can try, among many other paths to me, ...!utzoo!sq!msb
and ...!uunet!sq!msb; "type @" people can use firstname.lastname@example.org (or email@example.com.
THE RAILWAY MOVIES LIST.
1. Avalanche Express (USA, 1979) Color, 88 min.
2. Background to Danger (USA, 1943) B&W, 80 min.
3. Bataille du Rail (France, 1946) B&W
4. Berlin Express (USA, 1948) B&W, 86 min.
5. Breakheart Pass (USA, 1976) Color, 95 min.
6. The Bridge on the River Kwai (UK, 1957) Color, 161 min.
Brief Encounter ****** (UK, )
7. Broadway Limited (USA, 1941) B&W, 74 min.
8. The Bullet Train (China, 1983) 135 min.
9. Canadian Pacific (USA, 1949) Color, 95 min.
10. The Cassandra Crossing (UK, 1977) Color, 127 min.
11. Chartroose Caboose (USA, 1960) Color, 75 min.
12. Chattanooga Choo-Choo (USA, 1984) Color, 102 min.
13. Closely Watched Trains (Czechoslovakia, 1966) B&W, 89 min.
14. Dakota (USA, 1945) B&W, 82 min.
15. Danger Lights (USA, 1930) B&W, 73 min.
16. Deathline (UK, 1973) Color, 87 min.
17. The Denver and Rio Grande (USA, 1952) Color, 89 min.
18. Disaster on the Coastliner (USA, 1979) Color, 100 min. TV movie
19. Dutchman (UK, 1966) B&W, 55 min.
20. Emperor of the North (USA, 1973) Color, 118 min.
21. End of the Line (1988)
22. The Engine Driver (UK, 1964)
23. Exile Express (1939)
24. Express to Terror (19??)
25. Flame Over India (UK, 1959) Color, 130 min. [North West Frontier]
26. Florida Special (USA, 1936) B&W, 70 min.
27. The Flying Scotsman (UK, 1930) B&W, 58 min. Part silent
28. From Russia With Love (UK, 1963) Color, 118 min.
29. The General (USA, 1927) B&W, 74 min. Silent
30. The Ghost Train (UK, 1927) B&W Silent
31. The Ghost Train (UK, 1931) B&W
32. The Ghost Train (UK, 1941)
33. Grand Central Murder (USA, 1942) B&W, 73 min.
34. The Great K&A Train Robbery (USA, 1926) B&W, 53 min. Silent
35. The Great Locomotive Chase (USA, 1956) Color, 85 min. [Andrews' Raiders]
36. The Great Train Robbery (UK, 1979) Color, 111 min.
[The First Great Train Robbery]
37. The Grey Fox (Canada, 1982) Color, 92 min.
38. The Harvey Girls (USA, 1946) Color, 101 min.
39. Hell Train
40. Horror Express (Spain, 1972) Color, 88 min.
[Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express]
41. Human Desire (USA, 1954) B&W, 90 min.
42. The Hurricane Express (1932) B&W
43. The Incident (USA, 1967) B&W, 107 min.
44. The Iron Horse (USA, 1924) B&W, 119 min. Silent
45. It Happened to Jane (USA, 1959) Color, 98 min. [Twinkle and Shine]
46. Kansas Pacific (USA, 1953) Color, 73 min.
47. La Bete Humaine (France, 1938)
48. The Lady Vanishes (UK, 1938) B&W, 97 min.
49. The Lady Vanishes (UK, 1979) Color, 99 min.
50. La Roue (France, 1923) B&W
51. La Roue (France, 1956)
52. The Last Journey (UK, 1936)
53. Last Train from Bombay (USA, 1952) B&W, 72 min.
54. The Last Train from Madrid (USA, 1937) B&W, 77 min.
55. Le Train (France, 1973) [The Train]
56. The Lost Special (USA, 1930s?)
57. Man of Iron (Italy, 1956) B&W, 116 min. [The Railroad Man]
58. Murder on the Orient Express (UK, 1974) Color, 127 min.
59. Nairn's Journey (UK, 1971) TV movie
60. Nairn's Journey (UK, 1974)
61. The Narrow Margin (USA, 1952) B&W, 70 min.
62. Night Passage (USA, 1957) Color, 90 min.
63. Night Train (Poland, 1959) B&W, 90 min.
64. Night Train to Munich (UK, 1940) B&W, 93 min. [Night Train]
North By Northwest ******
65. Oh! Mr. Porter (UK, 1937) B&W
66. Orient Express (1934) B&W
67. Orphan Train (USA, 1979) Color, 150 min. TV movie
68. Overland Pacific (USA, 1954) Color, 73 min.
69. Panic on the 5:22 (USA, 1974) Color, 78 min. TV movie
70. The Paris Express (UK, 1953) Color, 83 min.
[The Man Who Watched Trains Go By]
71. Peking Express (USA, 1951) B&W, 95 min.
72. The Phantom Express (USA, 1932) B&W, 66 min.
73. Powderkeg (USA, 1970) Color, 100 min. TV movie
74. Prison Train (USA, 1938) B&W, 84 min. [People's Enemy]
75. Rails Into Laramie (USA, 1954) Color, 81 min.
76. The Railway Children (UK, 1967) TV movie
77. The Railway Children (UK, 1972) Color, 102 min.
78. Romance on the Orient Express (USA, 1985) Color, 100 min. TV movie
79. Rome Express (UK, 1932) B&W, 94 min.
80. Runaway! (USA, 1973) Color, 73 min. TV movie [The Runaway Train]
81. Runaway Train (USA, 1985) Color, 111 min.
82. Shanghai Express (USA, 1932) B&W, 80 min.
83. Short Walk to Daylight (USA, 1972) Color, 73 min. TV movie
84. Silk Train (USA, early 1930s)
85. The Silver Streak (USA, 1934) B&W, 72 min.
86. Silver Streak (USA, 1976) Color, 113 min.
87. Sleeping Car (UK, c.1930)
88. Sleeping Car to Trieste (UK, 1948) B&W, 95 min.
89. Stazione Termini (USA/Italy, 1953) B&W, 63 min. [Terminal Station;
Indiscretion of an American Wife]
90. Stop Train 349 (West Germany/France, 1964) B&W, 95 min.
91. Streamline Express (USA, 1936)
92. Subway (France, 1985) Color, 104 min.
93. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (USA, 1974) Color, 104 min.
94. The Tall Target (USA, 1951) B&W, 78 min.
95. Terror by Night (USA, 1946) B&W, 60 min.
96. Terror on a Train (UK, 1953) B&W, 72 min.
97. Terror Train (Canada, 1980) Color, 97 min.
98. 3:10 To Yuma (USA, 1957) B&W, 92 min.
99. A Ticket to Tomahawk (USA, 1950) Color, 90 min.
100. The Titfield Thunderbolt (UK, 1953) Color, 84 min.
101. Tough Guys (USA, 1986) Color, 104 min.
102. Tracks (USA, 1977) Color, 90 min.
103. The Train (USA, 1965) B&W, 113 min.
104. The Train Killer
105. Train Ride to Hollywood (USA, 1975)
106. The Train Robbers (USA, 1973) Color, 92 min.
107. Train Robbery Confidential (Brazil, 1962) B&W, 102 min.
108. Train to Alcatraz (USA, 1948)
109. Train to Tombstone (USA, 1950)
110. Twentieth Century (USA, 1934) B&W, 91 min.
111. Tycoon (USA, 1947) Color, 128 min.
112. Union Depot (USA, 1932) B&W, 75 min.
113. Union Pacific (USA, 1939) B&W, 135 min.
114. Union Station (USA, 1950) B&W, 80 min.
115. Un Soir...Un Train (France, 1968)
116. Vlak Bez Vosrog Reda (Yugoslavia, 1959) [Train Without a Timetable]
117. Vlak U Snijegu (Yugoslavia, 1976) [Train in the Snow]
118. Von Ryan's Express (USA, 1965) Color, 117 min.
119. Warm Nights on a Slow Moving Train (Australia, 1988) 90 min.
120. Without Reservations (USA, 1946) B&W, 107 min.
The Great British Train Robbery (UK, 1967)
The Great British Train Robbery (West Germany, 1967)
Night Train to Memphis (late 40s-early 50s)?
Mark Brader, SoftQuad Inc., Toronto | Rocket, 1829: The first 30 mph train.
utzoo!sq!msb, firstname.lastname@example.org | TGV-A, 1989: The first 300 mph train.
This article is in the public domain.
From: SC10000 <SC10%NEMOMUS.BITNET@ricevm1.email
Subject: USA by Amtrak (contd.)
Date: 03 Apr 1990 14:32:00 -0500
Here I am again to bore you guys with my Amtrak journey across the
US. The last segment described the journey between Denver and Salt
Lake City on the California Zephyr (BTW, the trains have numbers;
the westbound Zephyr is 5 and the eastbound is 6).
At Salt Lake, the Zephyr splits into the Pioneer (Seattle-bound), the
Desert Wind (LA-bound) and the shorter Zephyr going to Oakland.
Anyway, we were off into the darkness from Salt Lake City on the
Union Pacific line just after midnight. The tracks go over 15 miles of
the Great Salt Lake; I tried my best to spot the lake in the darkness
but could not. During the night we crossed into Nevada and joined the
Southern Pacific system at Winnemucca.
At dawn we were traversing the Nevada desert. The Zephyr had only 7
coaches now on its Oakland run. Soon we reached Sparks, the site of
a large railway switching yard on the outskirts of Reno. Reno itself
seems to be a town full of hotels and casinos.
The scenery became prettier west of Reno. We crossed into California
hugging Interstate-80amid snow-clad hills with pine trees. We were
now joined by a guide from the California Railroad Museum who gave
us a description of the route as we went along. Truckee (near Lake
Tahoe) was our next stop; west of Truckee are the Sierras. We were
moving along a cliff on the side of a mountain with a fantastic
view of the blue waters of Donner Lake and the surrounding valley.
Much of the next 3-4 hours was spent in the Sierras; traversing
mountainsides and canyons with one spectacular scene after
another. We followed I-80 much of the way; however the highway seems
to follow the valleys, unlike the railroad tracks which seem to be
atop mountainside cliffs.
We passed through many tunnels and man-made structures known as
snow-sheds. These are designed to protect the railroad tracks from
avalanches.We descended the Sierras into the Sacramento valley
via the communities of Colfax and Roseville. We arrived at Sacramento
a little after noon. Sacramento is a large rice-growing area and
produces around a billion pounds of rice annually. West of Sacramento
I could see the rice fields; the tracks and the roads were elevated
to facilitate the flooding of the paddies. After stopping at Davis
(site of a UC campus) and Suisun-Fairfield (site of Travis Air Force
Base) we arrived at Martinez in the San Joaquim valley. There is a
large "mothballed" fleet of ships in the bay just outside Martinez.
We followed the bay through Richmond and Berkeley and reached Oakland
To be continued