The RAJ collected a good 30 minute delay at Nagpur need to shed off that little extra flab at the earliest as making up in the last section of this route is virtually impossible due to heavy congestion. As if on cue, RAJ quickly picks leaves Nagpur in a hurry. Nagpur – Itarsi section has always been one of my favorite sections in this entire route. The landscape varies from a flat Vidharba region and quickly transforms into green and beautiful ghat sections as we enter Madhya Pradesh.
The first of the ghat sections Teegaon – Chichonda is quickly done without any fuss or a halt. A few bankers were awaiting arrival of P4 hauled 24 coachers to push them up the gradient. RAJ, a mean 18 coacher P7 hauled champion, made a mockery of the gradient and before we could realize, the RAJ thrashed a busy Amla junction at MPS leaving AP express behind. As darkness set in, we were forced to miss the scenic Maramjhiri – Dharakoh section, which TN express usually covers at dusk to witness the beautiful sunset. Evening gave way to darkness and we had to settle with seeing our own forgettable reflections now as interior lighting took over.
Itarsi passed at a steady 3okmph without stopping and we picked up quickly enroute to Bhopal about 90 kms away. Itarsi – Bhopal section is another beautiful and scenic landscape, which cannot be enjoyed on the RAJ in either direction due to its timings. Arrived Bhopal on time and couple of gracious railfans, who decided to just encourage us on our trip, treated us to some local delicacies and satisfy that sweet tooth of ours. As we departed Bhopal, the dinner saga was quickly done with and unlike the previous night, we decided to call it a day as we have a very hectic 3 days ahead of us. As much as I wanted to see our RAJ overtaking my first love TN, I decided to give it a pass and rest.
Woke up a couple of times as we skipped Mathura and Agra. RAJ had made up all of its lost time and is now all set to reach Delhi on dot. As always , we were slightly trolled a bit before Nizamuddin and reached our first destination, Hazrat Nizamuddin with a 15 minute delay. We quickly moved hearing to the announcement of the two heavyweights GT and TN arriving back to back shortly. RAJ did overtake TN then , a sight I missed or should I say wanted to miss ?
It has been 14 long years since I last visited Delhi and I was unsure of what was going through my mind. The next leg of our travel is late night and we have a full 16 hours to kill in our Capital. Delhi is home to one of the most congested railway networks in the country and it is no wonder that the RRI system (Route Relay Interlocking) at New Delhi Railway Station is one of the world’s largest RRI system certified by the Guiness Book of World Records. There are multiple terminals to decongest traffic and regulate trains. New Delhi & Old Delhi Junction are two of the larger terminals, supported by Nizamuddin, Delhi Sarai Rohilla & Anand Vihar catering primarily to South , North & Northwestern, North, Northeastern and Eastern parts of the country.
Since we had a good 16 hours to go and board the next train from Old Delhi Junction, we quickly decided to make a short visit to Rewari Steam Loco Shed, which is about 90kms from Delhi on the Delhi – Jaipur line. Rewari Steam Loco Shed is a delight for steam lovers and classic locomotives. It houses the trio which pulled the very first train from Thane to Bori Bunder in 1853, The Sahib, Sultan & Sind. A quick cab ride through the better parts of the city took us just outside Delhi Sarai Rohilla, where we checked in to the cheapest available lodging to quickly freshen up and get ready for a heritage visit.
Breakfast was a quick roadside, dipped in Amul butter hot and smoking Aloo parathas served with some local accompaniments. At 10 INR per paratha, we had no room to complain and there was no need either.Incidentally, there was some unprecedented delay on one the regular Delhi – Rewari passenger and hence our Bikaner bound ICE was made to run as a commuter train upto Rewari. On hindsight, our current booking in 3A proved to be a blessing in disguise. Old Delhi, Delhi Sarai Rohilla and the route to Jaipur is certainly not a sight to behold. It passes through some of the most backward and unhygienic areas of Delhi, in start contrast to the roads and infrastructure around Nizamuddin and other parts of the city. One striking aspect though was the Delhi metro. It was omnipresent all across Delhi. Sreedharan really took Delhi Metro to great heights, literally in some areas. Thanks to the lousy commuter run of our train, we reach Rewari a good 30 minutes behind schedule. We get down, took in some customary tea and walk towards the steam loco shed under a blazing hot October Sun. Rewari is a a diesel lovers Railfan Paradise. It serves as a diesel filling station and sports a never ending stream of locomotives and double container freights from 4 different directions. No electric poles to block your views or obstruct your clicks. We decided to spend some time railfanning over there on our way back.
Hundred meters ahead and a short 5 minute walk following the pointers all along the way and we reach the loco shed with no fuss. The place seemed deserted and left us wondering if we were in at a wrong time. Much to our relief a few workers let us in and explained that the ONLY restriction was “NO SMOKING”. Rewari steam loco shed , unlike the active diesel and electric locomotive sheds in India, lets you do whatever you do want as long as you do not disturb anything or anyone. We were free to get in to the locos, shoot photographs of anything , anywhere and anyhow. Roam around unsupervised anywhere. Considering all the red tape involved in other maintenance facilities of Indian Railways, it was a welcome change and nothing, not even the blazing hot sun could suppress our excitement and energy which was well spent spread over a period of 2-3 hours.Getting up, close and personal with Sahib, Sind, Sutlan and the regal of all, Akbar was an experience which I cannot express in words in a simple blog. Hundreds of clicks, bottles of water, cokes and pepsi’s later, it was time to go back.
Do you recollect that commuter train with an unprecedented delay, which made our express into a commuter ? Well, appparently that is now in Rewari and will leave for Delhi soon. Locals in a small town like Rewari know train timings inside out and since our special train will now have its own timings not in sync with the locals timings, we had an almost empty train transporting us to Delhi. A request to footplate was promptly turned down and we were soon chugging our way to Delhi.
It was a moonlit night in old Mexico. I walked alone between some old Adobe haciendas. Suddenly, I heard the plaintive cry of a young Mexican girl. That’s how Pat Boone starts off his Speedy Gonzales and has nothing to do with this recollection of mine.
It was indeed a moonlit night and a good night’s rest was in the beckoning. I took my little monkeys to bed to quickly get them to sleep so that I can indulge in a little bit of “me” time before I wind up for the day. Just as my heavy eyelids was desperately trying to out bulge my eyes to send me to paradise, I heard that distinctive beep of someone pinging me on Facebook. It is a cardinal sin not to check and go to sleep, lest the demons unleash the lousiest dreams on the planet. I have a message waiting for my droopy eyes. “Let me offer you a deal. A visit to RCF, Kapurthala. Does it excite you ? Received permission to visit the factory on 17th October 2013. So if you are interested, I will add your name on”. Before I rant on, let me emphasize, why this is a BIG thing. First, I am a rail enthusiast and a visit to manufacturing facility where the passenger coaches are manufactured is a dream. Second, getting permission to visit a
Central Government owned research and development manufacturing unit is not something you get everyday in India. You need to pull a lot of strings to get this done. Needless to say, I am super excited and still not sure if the actual journey, factory visit, a personal trip after a while or something else which is making my adrenaline hit the roof.
The First Night – 14-Oct-2013 :
I have never traveled in “The Rajdhani Express” (To be referred as the RAJ henceforth) and excitement of traveling in one of the better Rajdhani Expresses in its LHB avatar was making the day crawl ever so slowly. Packing for a single traveling male is just a 10 minute exercise and in spite of an extended one hour relaxed packing schedule, time seems to have come to a complete standstill. As the clock slowly crawls past 5PM, I bid my goodbyes and embark on an exciting trip ahead. Bangalore roads were empty due to holiday season and the short trip to the railway station was much quicker than anticipated. With a full 90 minutes to kill before departure, I met my other fellow railfans and decided to indulge in a short pre dinner roadside junk, which on hindsight, would turn out to be one of the better decisions we made. As the rake enters the platform, the nondescript and dull platform suddenly barges to life. For some reason, which I am still yet to comprehend, I just fail to understand the urgency with which the passengers board the train. It is not as if it will pull out ahead of schedule when everyone boards.Anyway we gave way for all those busy bees who wanted to reach the capital a bit earlier than us, settled our luggage inside and got ready for a small photo shoot. The loco HAS to be shot and framed. So off we go, shoot the LOCO and a few otherwise useless shots and before we knew it, we were all set for departure. Boarded the train, got our tickets checked and settled for the Great Rajdhani Dining experience.
Dinner in RAJ is a sight to behold. Just as we settle down, our designated pantry attendant stacks the dinner right next to the doorways and vestibules. My assumption on this bizarre maneuver was that he was trying to be efficient, however as the dinner progressed, it was clear that he did not want the passengers any way to escape this exclusive gourmet. Water bottles were nearly thrown at you, soup sticks slid on a not so sparkling plastic red plate, A red piping hot liquid, which we later came to know as tomato soup was slid efficiently across. Now that the starter was served, it was finished ever so quickly as we did not intend to savor the taste for a longer time. Sarcasm apart, we finished it quickly because that’s all it takes to gulp two tablespoons of soup. Now comes the main course. 3 Chapathis each the size of a standard Indian Idli, A paneer curry which sent us on a leather hunt for the paneer and 4 tablespoons of rice, which was, well let’s just leave it at that. A request for yoghurt / curd was promptly served with a red blazing stare and followed by a small cup of white liquid 30 minutes later. The dessert was a surprise. We were served Baskin Robbins smallest cup of Vanilla ice-cream. It was honestly as vanilla as it could be, but I could already hear a few passengers complaining that they did not want a milkshake for dessert. Now that the Lilliputians were served dinner, the passengers decided to settle down gradually for what is going to be a good 30 hours of the RAJ experience, albeit with a grumbling stomach.
As the train started cruising through the Makali ghats, the passengers gradually started to retire for the night. Peace prevailed as lights were switched off and RAJ started picking up towards its next halt, Dharmavaram, which is a crew change halt. The railfans in me and my friends and the non existent photographer in myself, kept us awake for a good amount of time, trying to upload the clicks so far to IRI. However the patchy internet and cruising through signal free area, made it an effort in itself. By the time we successfully managed to upload one single click, we were slowing down to enter Dharmavaram. A quick doorplating and we witnessed a huge curve with station lights and signals gleaming along the tracks. One of my favorite sights is a train switching , snaking and crawling to enter an almost deserted station late at night. As usual, the cameras breathed life and managed to click a few forgettable ones. As the train departed Dharmavaram, we decided to call it a day to enjoy the ripping action after Secunderabad and of course, we did not want to miss the loco change festivities the next day.
15-Oct-2013 – Early Morning around 5 AM :
The key to travel in a long distance train in India is proper scheduling of your daily activities during the course of travel. A 30-33 hour ride could be reason enough to pamper yourself to an extended sleep or letting your mind wander aimlessly, but it could have an irritating impact. It is of my strong conviction that you should complete the washroom usage before 5:30 AM in the morning. They are clean relatively, with water available and no waiting period. Anything beyond 6:30 AM, you have a long waiting period and your body may not be willing to co-operate with your mind. So based on my past experience, I was all up and dandy and fresh by 6:00 AM and looking through the large transparent glass window to evaluate our position. As expected in this section, we were a good 30-40 minutes behind schedule. The RAJ was in no hurry and maintained the delay all the way up to Secunderabad.
We were positioned 13th or 14th from the LOCO and in spite of our brisk and accelerated walk sprinkled with a few sprints, we were not able to witness the grand detachment of KJM WDP4B from our RAJ. However, the LOCO area was a beehive of activities with loads of folks checking various gauges and levels, while a LGD white stallion 30290 silently enters the frame to storm the RAJ all the way up to Nizamuddin. Ten more minutes, loco coupled, pressure gauges checked, oil levels refilled and the P7 is all set. We make a quick sprint back to our coach and ready to latch on to the best part of the RAJ. No , I did not mean the food, but the high priority adrenaline pumping high speed run. The P7 departed with the backlog of around 30-40 minutes to catch up. Back in our seats, we were served a delicious tasteless breakfast with miniature models, eaten effortlessly by us as we quickly started ripping the outskirts of Secunderabad. It was time to witness the beautiful Raigir curve, but nothing much to describe here as we almost missed it,for which we made amends on our way back. Quickly reached Kazipet and made up around 10 minutes of lost time.
The Kazipet Disaster :
Konark express was gracious enough to let us go first as our RAJ honked and jerked to start. As quickly as it started, it was forcefully stopped by a fellow passenger a few coaches ahead of us. As we peeped out, a crowd had gathered ahead and a good number of them squatted to get a deeper look below the train. Fearing the worst, we were informed that someone had slipped between the platform and the train and authorities are trying to extract him. To our relief, he luckily survived, but probably with some life altering disability. Our TTE explained later that he slipped while trying to board the train balancing his breakfast on one hand and trying to get in on a moving train using his other hand for support. As much as I would like to blame the lip smacking breakfast provided by the pantry that he was desperate enough to enjoy the cold and bland station breakfast, it was his fault entirely. It was later informed to us that he was operated upon and will live. So much for a breakfast, but it sure made us sit in shock for a while. The 10 minutes we caught up so far was wasted and we were 90 minutes behind schedule when we departed Kazipet
Nostalgia Reloaded :
I was a regular traveler on the Chennai (The then Madras) – New Delhi trunk route during 1995-1999 and yes it was a no-brainer and my journeys always used to be in the legendary Tamilnadu Express, which till date enjoys extreme high priority and still known for its ruthless and aggressive run. As we moved out of Kazipet and merged on to the Chennai – New Delhi trunk line, it all started coming back to me. The wide eyed , open mouthed and shocked expressions on travelers waiting for their rides, the sheer awesomeness of high pitched whine from the then WAP1 and the calm which would have restored after the storm passed, helpless passengers looped at various wayside stations for the legendary TN to pass through the mainline and the pride and thrill within me as we go an a rampage station after station. Hasanparthi Road, Jamikunta, Ramagundam , Manchiryal and the likes were shown no respect. A sudden argument with the famed pantry boys of the RAJ, as it brought me back to the present, left a lingering feeling wishing I was on the TN rather than the RAJ.
Anyway, it was make up time and the RAJ had its intentions clear. We have a catwalk of prestigious trains in the offing as we settled down for an aggressive run. RAJ is the king now atleast on wheels if not on meals. RAJ, incidentally following the TN literally, charged past all the big towns and made a mockery of the 90 minute delay at Kazipet as were just 50 minutes behind now as we cruised past the Wardha River at Balharshah outer. The right curve onto the river amidst a foliage of greenery had not changed in the last 14 years. Yes, I had never traveled in this section after 1999 and my loyalty to TN just keeps coming back. First Love maybe :).
Just as we clear the river, we meet the first of the heavyweights, our counterpart, the Numero Uno Primo Supremo, Bangalore bound RAJ crossing us on its way to Secunderabad, the last of its high speed sections. We were welcomed into Balharshah, by another white LGD stallion with another legendary and always popular AP Express in tow ready to give some distance between itself and the Bangalore bound RAJ
Balharshah reached, made up 40 minutes, loco relaxed, LOCO pilot changed, Exclusive gourmet meals ready, line clear, signaled and our RAJ is already furiously accelerating in its pursuit to reach the land of oranges and make up for the remaining 50 minutes. RAJ is a sprinter and a very good one, it is not like your typical marathon athlete, but a marathon athlete with a spirit of the 100m dasher. The next milestone is to get ahead of New Delhi bound AP, right in front of us and considering the delay , it was our educated guess that it may not happen before we reach Nagpur as AP is not a sloucher either.
While all this analysis were in progress, our super exclusive pantry attendant started off his circus again, albeit a bit tired (Probably due to enjoying their own cuisine) and we quickly finish our uneventful lunch samples and prepared ourselves for high speed crossings of the evergreen Grand Trunk Express and the almighty TN. We crossed GT before Sewagram, known for Mahatma Gandhi’s Ashram. Sewagram is an RF paradise where the trunk lines from Mumbai and Chennai merge and a triangular bypass from Chennai trunk line to the Mumbai trunk line. Chennai – Delhi trunk line slows down to a 50kmph speed limit to negotiate one of the famous and massive curves of Indian Railways and is a sight to watch for every rail enthusiast. Trains on the Nagpur – Mumbai trunk line, rips through Sewagram without slowing down on the mainline.
A quick glance at our watches and realized we had hardly covered up around 10-15 minutes delay. Apparently, the though process was telepathically transferred to our loco pilots and pumped the loco with an extra dose of adrenaline. The result, a breathtaking run of 70kms completed in about 34 minutes on the flat Vidharba region of the country. 5 minutes before time at Nagpur outer and a 10 minute delay as we pulled into the land of Oranges. AP is still ahead of us and we are coming for you soon !
I am not obese by any standards, but having been imbibed the essence of my community since my memory could recall, being above average is the norm and my BMI is no exception to that either. Just browse around and advice flows in from all quarters across the internet from seriously obese bloggers on how to happily be and stay below average. A very popular and favorite simple easy to use daily driver tip, which I read today as well , is to use the stairs instead of elevators. Ironically, I was indeed reading this on my way to the 7th floor and following the “You will read anything in Whatsapp Syndrome” with due diligence, which ideally should have been applied to the “use the stairs” advice and guess what !!! IT IS A BAD IDEA. Using stairs instead of the elevator is the worst that you could do with your life. I actually found using the elevator to be an extremely healthy and rejuvenating experience for your mind. A few typical characters I kind of indifferently observe on a daily basis is worth not trying to shed off that extra flab.
The Social Worker :
Hiring an attendant for pressing buttons is economic sabotage. Why waste resources on this, when there is always at least one socially inclined traveler who diligently opens and closes the elevator for everyone. He doesn’t want to throw away that extra 2 seconds to wait for the elevator to stretch its arms inside. Our social worker is all set to give it that extra push to ensure doors open a second earlier. He goes out of his way to ensure that there is no time wasted once boarding is complete. Another push and the doors close. Yes that 5 seconds make the difference. Railways and other public transport operators need to avoid recruiting them as an empty platform or a bus stop implicitly means NO STOPPING !!!
The Flexible Independent :
This person is well and truly independent. Why depend on others when he can do his job himself even if means, he needs to pass his hand through a couple of S curves and climb a few mountains and valleys through the deepest darkest dungeons, dispering his half emptied deo for the benefit of the rest, in his quest to press that damn button 5 feet ahead of him and 2 feet over his head. Poor guy he never know about the social worker, just waiting for your command.
The Poker :
Every elevator group has one. You want to open a closing door, just swipe your hand and reverse the action. Want to enter an already fully occupied one just closing in on you, poke your footwear and watch the magic unfold and squeeze your half obese pulp into a thousand ready to burn you to ashes, staring eyes and boy does he care !!!
The Silent Assassin / The Observer :
The scariest of the group. He watches everything, listens to everything, observes every minute details, assimilates a lot of data, arrives at logical conclusions and may even analyse to the extreme to become fully judgmental. He surprises himself on his analytical capabilities and decides to put it to good use, all of which vaporizes the instant he leaves the elevator.
The Focussed :
No matter what happens, he will read that 18742 messages on Whatsapp, 8965 facebook notifications and all those spam SMS on how he is wasting his life and how to improve it. There is always someone who will get out on the same floor as him and there is always that social worker just waiting to help him out. You can easily identify this person smiling into his phone and my guess is that is certainly not for a selfie.
The Self Advertiser :
This is one special character. Why is my 2 year old bike the best in industry and how to research and find the best. Why is green tea mixed with half a drop of honey and 3 drops of lemon taken exactly 17 minutes after breakfast and 22 minutes before lunch the best detox and how has it helped him to detoxify. Why should you be using the same mobile device he is obsessed with. How to react to specific embarrassing situations. This person has the best retorts to any situation and shoot you extempore with a dozen of them for each situation all natural and spontaneous outbursts of witty and thoughtful concoctions. And well, do not question him on why he sold his old bike before getting his new one.
The Privacy Guard :
Easy to observe typical behavioral patterns. “I am getting into a lift. Will talk later”. Locks the mobile screen. Urges their friends or colleagues to talk once out of the elevator. Hides their employee badges to display the backside with no photos or employee id. Will not attend phone calls, respond to SMS, Whatsaapp or any social beckoning until out of the elevator.
The Stealer :
The most common I have come across. Take a closer look at your colleagues or persons whom you have always wanted to well, look. A quick succession of stealing glances up close and personal, all just to be forgotten the moment you are out of the elevator.
The Indifferent :
With interconnected and always on social media / music / movies 24×7, there is a sharp increase in this breed. He just does not care what is going on. It all about me, myself and my Irene. He walks in with his headphones on at full volume, without realizing that his not so nice music is spilling out of his phones and walks out once his social worker helps him get off at his destination
The Solution Architect :
The agony aunt is hilarious. Do you have any problem ? if yes, just hope that your elevator agony aunt travels with you. Basement to terrace, your problem is no more a menace. Taller buildings can solve some serious issues not restricted to global warming and climate change.
The Indecisive :
Oh boy, this elevator has 2 buttons, one arrow indicating up and another down. What do I do ? Oh no I will be late for my meeting ? What if I miss the elevator on its way to my destination. Should I inform my elevator, which is 7 floors above me to take me up or should I request the elevator to come down ? This is some serious decision making. Well why should I care ? Let me leave that decision to the elevator. I will press both.
The Unadulterated Idiot :
This breed is unique. Courtesy and common sense do not exist in their fantasy world. They do not wait for anyone to exit, but barges in with sizes ranging from a matchstick to 5 times the lift opening. No quantum of stares and weird looking expressions have any impact on them. They want to go up just one floor on a 200 storey building, but will go all the way to the back of the elevator so that they can push everyone else out on their way out.
Which ONE are YOU ? There is more, but the fact is this short 1 minute ride in an elevator can either be a complete turn off or a real rejuvenating experience. It is a choice and it is upto you to react and choose. Do let me know your comments and criticism.
For a majority of Indian users, specs do not matter as much as the cost. For those where specifications take center stage, a quad core is a quad core irrespective of a 5 year old Mediatek processor or a Snapdragon 810 LTE enabled chipset. Micromax and a few other low cost mobile phone manufacturers take advantage of this to build their products and propagate them in comparison with the latest flagships. Seems weird to compare a Micromax Canvas with a Galaxy Note, but who cares, the appeal is comparing specs and price, which Micromax and other such cheap phone manufacturers exploit. The prices seem unbelievable for a quad core or even an octa core phone and how on earth do these folks make that universal drug $$$$.
Look beyond English when reading the specifications. More often than not, hardware used is atleast a couple of generations old. This along with latest software has disaster and performance problems written all over it. Every component is atleast 2-3 generations behind starting from the Chipset, RAM, GPU, lens, camera sensor, screen technology, battery and even the outer plastic or so called metallic finishes. You can get a 2 generation old chipset almost virtually free. It does provide value for money for the majority, but no one is out there for charity and the manufacturer makes a huge margin out there.
No R&D Cost.
Majority of these manufacturers do not invest in R&D. Almost of the phone design and build is picked out from existing flagship manufacturers or rebranded from other devices. For example, Micromax Yureka is a rebranded CoolPad. A sheep in a lion’s skin (In this specific example, the skin is sheepish as well).
The next time you click on “I Agree” , spend some time before you do that in reading the entire agreement. For all you know, you may have just committed to sharing your contact details, their email addresses, your photos, your social login details, your phone call patterns, your GPS locations (Your friends as well if you use compatible apps), your food preferences, your videos, your fashion quotient, your underwear brands, your keystrokes, your dreams, your car, your financial details, your project on building a cheap thermonuclear device, your workplace, your spouse’s spending patterns and workplace, your kids’s schooling details and every single fantasy you could conceive of. The catch is this happens irrespective of whether you agree or not agree, all because of the benevolent nature of your manufacturer who wants to protect and safeguard you against you losing your data. Now that’s what I call charity !!!
This is exactly where these manufacturers place money. The link towards the end of this post is self explanatory. To cut it short, manufacturers provide backdoors to these devices, wherein they can push and install any application which can collect any data with absolute disregard for the user’s choices. For example, Micromax installs backdoor to a few of its devices, wherein OTA service of these devices can not only update your apps, but also has unlimited leeway in installing any other app. They had tied up with a Chinese Data Mining company , which has a “Feature List” . Lets look at it shall we ?
There you go, in its own words on what they do. The cherry is Micromax chose to go with this provider than their own for OTA services. Now you know why you get those annoying ads and how Micromax is maximizing its revenue. MICRO efforts and MAXimum profits