I love the trains in India. I had booked the train about 2 months ago and was number 2 RAC which means I had the first right to a ticket upon cancellation of a ticket. It was the day of the trip and I was still 2 RAC. This is part of the bureaucracy of the Indian system. I did get a place to sleep as I had booked about 2 hours before the trip. Generally if one has 2 RAC ticket a place is guaranteed from no shows, last minute cancellations and tickets which have been allocated to officials. I met another couple who were staying at the Broadway Hotel and we ended up sharing a taxi to the train station which is only 2 kilometers away from the hotel. We left a little after 7pm to catch our 8:30pm train. After negotiating an exorbitant rate as all the taxis were busy we head off and in about 5 minutes were in a traffic jam that was moving no where! At about 7:50pm we were thinking of walking to the station as it was only a little of a kilometer away, but miraculously the traffic began to move and by 7:59 we reached the station.
The train was at the station on time as Kolkata was the origin for this train. And it arrived at Siliguri on time as well. It caught me off guard as I am used to trains being late.
The train ride was another experience. I had booked third class A/C which means there are 6 beds in the compartment. Bedding is supplied, but you make up your own bed and most important it is cool. The compartment I was in had and India family of five with three additional children, ages ranging for 2 to 4 years. From my encounters, Indian children are left to run around and have no discipline, especially the boys. One boy was screaming louder than the car horns in Kolkata with nary a comment from either parent. And they were running around as if they were in a play ground. At 10pm I said that I wanted to go to sleep, so they had to comply as I had the bottom bunk. One of the family members inquired about my knees, and mobility. This was a precursor to asking me if I would trade bunks and sleep on the upper level. I usually prefer the upper level. But I could not believe a young man was asking a woman in my age range to sleep on the upper level. Anyway, I had a headache from all the goings on and welcomed the relief from sleep. Even the couple who I had shared a taxi with to the train station, who happened to be in the next compartment, commented on how loud and out of control the children were.