Train Travel in the Land of Contrasts

Our last day in Delhi was spent experiencing upper-class India, which was an extreme contrasting to our experience in Delhi the day before. The day before we explored the class of India that was impoverished. We visited a hectic Sufi-Shrine mosque and were also exposed to extreme poverty. As a way to display the various classes of Indian society, we visited a high-class shopping area in New Delhi. As we walked around the shopping center we passed commercial industries such as McDonalds, Adidas, and Rolex. This array of American/European powered stores placed in a small wealthier area of Delhi was very interesting to see. With such extreme poverty just minutes away from the area, the vast amount of commercial stores present was very interesting to compare and contrast. In the poverty stricken areas, the streets are filled with small local shops consisting of Indian goods such as a variety of traditional street food and handcrafted material items. In comparison to this, the shopping center we visited contained many high-end restaurants and a larger variety of commercial businesses and stores.


Later that day we began the journey of our first overnight Indian sleeper train. Nerves and excitement surged through our group. Our journey started the second we got off the bus at the Indian railway. Each student was told to carry their luggage themselves and voyage towards the railway station a couple minutes away. With one student close to fainting and many others on the verge of anxiety attacks, we were bound for an exciting night. After minutes of waiting on the platform we boarded the train and entered a world of quiet chaos. We were each assigned to a bed, which had one blanket, one pillow, and one unfamiliar Indian roommate. Scared of some strangers’ intentions we all decided to group together and stay as close as possible. The train was fluorescently lit, filled with various sounds, and reeked of omelets, tomato soup and chai tea. As things began to quiet down and everyone got situated in their assigned bunks, we all found comfort in each other by closely conversing throughout the night. The overnight journey was something we will never forget and will always hold closely to our hearts, as it was a new experience for us all. Although sometimes India can be overwhelming, the total sensory experience that comes along with every journey is completely rewarding and unique.

By Sailor Brinkley-Cook and Constance Caiola