Waiting for the Train

Break Time

Coolies on a Break Time

My journals are filled with pages of tales from hundreds of journeys across India on Indian Railways. There is no such thing as an uneventful train ride there. So it was with great anticipation, excitement and yes, even a bit of trepidation that I arrived at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station in New Delhi on a foggy morning with my usual overstuffed suitcase in tow. I knew about the steep stairs leading up to the platform so I engaged one of the many over-eager coolies at the entrance. Hindered with that heavy valise, I gave up the idea of investigating if the station now had an escalator and accepted that I would have to deal with the shenanigans of the greedy porters. After sending four different coolies on their way for over-charging, I allowed a young, strong man in the ubiquitous red “coolie” jacket with a mischievous twinkle in his eye to take possession of my bag.

It was early, too early to board my train, the Rajdhani Express for South India. The coolie found a place for me on a crowded bench and said that he’d return when my train would arrive. I got a small cup of sweet, milky chai and drank it with pleasure. The sky was gray and there was a hint of a chill  in the air that would spread over the landscape in a month’s time.

This was the fun part: watching the scene and all the people on the platform coming and going from all over India and from all walks of life. I tried as unobtrusively as possible to pull out my camera and capture some of the action.

Morning Fog on the Platform

Morning Fog on the Platform

A cast of distinctive characters passed right in front of me, as if they were auditioning for my movie.

Hobbling Along

Hobbling Along

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

Every where I turned was another little scene enacted right on the stage of the theater of life: the platform.

The Honeymooners

The Honeymooners

Hazrat Nizamuddin: the Theater of Life

Hazrat Nizamuddin: the Theater of Life

To avoid going up and down all the many staircases that lead to the numerous platforms, many just walk through the trains, across the tracks.

Taking the Short Cut

Taking the Short Cut

Dressed immaculately in all white, this man avoids the steps and walks through a few carriages to get to the platform.

The announcement for my train crackles through the PA system. Another wave of excitement sweeps over the platform as people jostle into position with their myriad belongings.  My coolie appears, hoists my bag on his head as he leads the way to my carriage while I struggle to keep up with him, knowing that before my train adventure begins, I will have to haggle all over again for the original price that I agreed to pay. My porter will have his own adventure confronting my stubborn persistence!


About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
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25 Responses to Waiting for the Train

  1. pedenny says:

    You should publish in book form. One is more wonderful than the last one!

  2. leggypeggy says:

    Three cheers for stubborn persistence. 🙂

  3. Ah! This could be me next year. So excited! A great read 🙂


    • ninagrandiose says:

      You should be excited if you’re going to India for the first time! There is no place like it on earth.

  4. gopivictoria says:

    Wonderful post.. feel like I’m waiting for the train now… metaphorically of course

  5. The more I read of your posts, the more I want to see this part of the world. We’ll see where the road leads!

  6. when are you next going to India

    • ninagrandiose says:

      I will be leaving for India in Oct. Why? Would you like to join me? With your interest in sewing etc and my background in textile and clothing design, I’m certain I could show you a unique side to India!

      • You might be confusing me with someone else….I cant sew for a toffee, but I am interested in your Blog and India. My father grew up there and I am hoping to return. Where will you go in October.. and for how long

      • ninagrandiose says:

        Yes,you’re right. I did confuse you with someone else. Forgive me. I usually stay in India for 3-4 months every year. I haven’t finalized my return yet. I have a tour planned for mid Oct. that starts in Mumbai and goes to the hills from there and then into wine country and then on to Ajanta and Ellora and then on to Varanasi and Agra, home to the Taj Mahal and ends in Delhi. I also do customized trips if you have a few friends who are interested, I can organize a route based on your small group’s interests too. If your time is limited, I can arrange a shorter trip too, though on average my tours are 18-ish days. India is big and getting from one place to another can be slow going.

      • sorry for the delay in replying. I am open to suggestions but would love to see a Hill Station/Tea Plantation and Jaipur. Workwise, best time for me to travel is November to February… lets keep in touch.

  7. Rashminotes says:

    So well documented Nina! This is an everyday experience for us in India whether it is bus stops, local markets or even while standing in our ubiquitous queues:) Look forward to more of your “India diaries”!

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Yes, it is part of everyday life though sometimes it takes a “phoren view” to see it from a different angle.Thanks for your thoughtful response.

  8. A train journey is ever so awesome!!

  9. Lovely post and loved how you write about the everyday aspects of train travel. Just wrote a somewhat similar post on my blog so have a look. Brilliant natural photos too.

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