Introduction Long-distance train journeys are always thrilling. They teach us many lessons. We sometimes go on to make new friends. Some become our relatives as well. The nature of such relationships is always very good when the co-passengers are nice and kind people, who are honest and good at heart too. Be that as it may, the precautions that one needs to take are: a) Always go in for two nights and one day trips b) Travel AC class for more safety and comfort c) Do not talk unnecessarily with strangers d) Never discuss personal affairs or share personal details e) Carry home food for at least breakfast and lunch f) Survive on safe food g) Never wear costly jewelry h) Always have two ATM cards.
Always go in for two nights and one-day tripsBetween Chennai and New Delhi, there are three prestigious trains. Of them, the Rajdhani Express has a thirty-hour run, starting early morning from Chennai Central on day one and reaching New Delhi on day two. Though this is always crowded, the more intelligent passengers choose either the Tamil Nadu express or the Grand Trunk Expresses. This is because both the trains have two nights and a one-day travel schedule. On day three, one can even attend the office in a good mood. With the Rajdhani Express, the problem is that if it is late, we get to lose a big period of day two as well. For similar long-distance journeys, always prefer the two nights and one day travel. If you have two good books, you can conveniently read them and happily reach your destination. These days, there are bio-toilets in most trains. The facilities have somewhat improved. Hence, spending one full day may not be a big issue. Even when there are some discount fares, travel by air is still very costly and the trains are much cheaper.
Travel AC class for more safety and comfort On any long-distance train, travel by the AC class, particularly the 3AC class is advised. This is because you can easily avoid the passengers who seem to be occupying all space during the day hours and telling you that they would alight at the next station. Such uninvited guests are too many in any long-distance train. It is always advisable to ensure that the journey is far more comfortable and safe. In any 3AC compartment, the unreserved ticket holders cannot enter the compartment and the environment is far safer. You can also safeguard your luggage with lock and key. Yes, the cost is much more than the second class travel, but the money is still an essential expenditure. If you are traveling by the more costly 2AC class, you can enjoy the travel even more. Wise people have recurring deposits that come in handy for such travel. Any long-distance travel is always one that can be tiring. Hence, in the best interests of your health, it is always wise to travel by the 3AC class.
Do not talk unnecessarily with strangers Even if you are a compulsive talker, curb your tendencies to talk too much with strangers. It is totally unwise to engage strangers in long conversations. There are many cunning people who would actually gather all the information about you and your family members by asking you so many questions. The excess time available is happily spent on useless conversations. However, you should note that this is something that can be and should be, totally avoided. You can merely ask them where they live and possibly about how often they travel on such tours and so on. Even if you are a natural talker, talk only about non-political affairs. Hobbies, economy, education of children, more specifically higher education facilities and so on, can really help you to kill time.
Never discuss personal affairs or share personal details This is closely related to the aforesaid behavior. This author has seen many co-passengers exchange everything about their personal affairs, including emails, telephone numbers, addresses and so on. This can be very dangerous if the other person is a crook or is one who can even misuse such information. Please do note that our cell numbers are even shared with service providers like the debit card sections of banks. You will easily receive so many unwanted phone calls. However, if someone in the family is already known to you, and the relatives are traveling in the same compartment, you could possibly share your cell number. Since there is a reference, such people will normally be good people who do not cheat. They are normally those who help you in need. If they belong to the same community as you do and you already know a mutual friend or relative, there is every chance that the family would be good anyway. However, sharing of addresses is still not in order. Similarly, the sharing of cell numbers of children is even more dangerous. Never ever do this. There is every chance that such information is misused by crooks.
Carry home food for at least breakfast and lunch The food served on the most prestigious trains are nowadays so poor in quality. There is every chance of a big infection catching up with you. To avoid this, for day two, it is wise to pack up some good wheat-based food like the puris and tamarind rice and so on. There are hundreds who wisely carry some bread and some butter from the stations where the trains stop. For example, Vijayawada is a big station where the train stops for a while on the Chennai to New Delhi route. If you can purchase fresh bread and butter from such stations, that can help you to manage dinner on day two. If the food is part of your package, opt for vegetarian food. This is because non-vegetarian food can give you stomach disorders and simply put you off. This is a vital precaution that you should take.
Survive on safe food Anything that is served very hot is just about okay. Avoid all the oily items like the cutlet, samosa and so on. These are very tempting but can give you enough trouble, even during your journey. If you are unwell, immediately inform the TTE who will inform the nearest station for some medical help. This author has seen this often happen during long-distance travel, even between Ranchi and Chennai. The moment someone is seriously ill, the medical attention is always available and the doctors are quite kind too. In two cases, there were doctors from among the passengers in the 3AC coach and they were able to give the tablets immediately. In fact, it is wise to carry some good tablets, duly prescribed by a qualified medical officer. Emergencies can be easily handled if you have these tablets on you. As already said, bread, butter, and jam are fine enough for long distance journeys. Avoid the temptation to feast on whatever is sold at the platforms. We have still not reached a stage where safe food is available on the railway platforms, anywhere in India.
Never wear costly jewelry Women of all ages, and even very young girls should avoid costly jewelry. It is totally unwise to wear them. There have been several instances where the robberies have happened during night times when the lady would be snoring near the windows in the crowded second sleeper compartments. And in the unreserved compartments. The thieves are very clever. They can remove gold chains without the passenger even being aware. Or they make the passenger faint for two hours with their dirty tricks. It is very much advisable to wear only ordinary stuff like the glass bangles or chains made of some stone and so on. Women, in particular, need to be very careful.
Always have two ATM cards If you have huge money and some crook steals it, you are finished. Never carry cash in excess of three thousand rupees. Even this should be stored in three different places and not in one purse. Doing so will ensure that you have some money left, even if you had lost some portion of it. It is wise to have two debit cards, stored in two different places. You could use them in the railway platform or just outside it, in the case of an emergency. There are ATMs in most big railway stations and it is important that we make a note of this vital point. The more you take care of yourself, the better.
Conclusion Whatever is discussed above, is nothing but common sense. However, we often do mistakes and then learn from them. Experiences of others can also teach us many lessons. Long-distance travel can be a pleasure if you plan for it systematically and take some basic precautions.
First and foremost would be to have the hard or soft copy of the train bookings and respective ID document. No point in planning a lot and getting caught by the TTR.
The two-tier or 3 tier AC train bookings is a good suggestion from the author especially if we can afford and are travelling with daughters and young womenfolk in the family. It just filters out the potential trouble from some unruly men or ticketless travellers that are common in the general compartments.
Glad that the author has mentioned about jewellery. Our aim during train travel is not to stand out or get noticed in the crowd. Jewellery and dressing should be as modest as possible with safety in mind.
I would like to add about having a favourite book, music or even a movie during these long journeys. Also one should have their own medications, prescription glasses, ID proof documents and contact number in case of emergency. When travelling with little children, one should have backup plans for milk, feeding bottles, dishes for children and clean water. Downloading the live train status app helps us to know where we are and how long would it take for the next station etc in real time so that we can plan better. Lastly, we should not forget about simple things like mosquito repellent cream, bedspread, appropriate clothing etc.
There are many factors that can de-rail the best-planned train journeys, one should not get too annoyed or upset if there is a setback, we should just take things as they come.
A nice article by the author giving some important points to have a safe and happy journey. The points discussed are very apt and need to be followed.
I would like to share my experience in this connection here. Once we, eight family members, were travelling by train. Unfortunately, none of us was having our original identity cards. I had requested my son to send a copy of the Aadhaar card in WhatsApp and he had done it. The TT came and asked for the ID card. Before I showed my copy, my brother's wife showed her SBI identity card. But he said that it was not acceptable and that we should get down at the next stop. I somehow pleaded with him and showed my ID card on WhatsApp and made him agree. The fault was with us. Not carrying an ID card was a mistake. Then onwards I made it a point that my PAN card will be in my purse always.
Another point I like to mention is that one should not keep all the cards and money in one place. Get it distributed in 2 or 3 places. That will ensure that you will never run out of money. One day when we were travelling a co-passenger was carrying a purse with her. All the money and 3 or 4 cards were kept in the same purse. It was a third AC coach. Unfortunately, she lost her purse. She became very nervous. So after seeing that incident, I started the practice of keeping the amount and cards separately in different places.