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How to board a local train in India

Updated on August 21, 2015
mridulrai profile image

Born and brought up in Kolkata, India, Mridul has his own unique way of portraying his country, based on 25+ years of experience, yet. :)

I'm going to keep it straight with you. If you're planning on a local train journey in any of the metro cities and you are not a resident Indian, or someone with at least a year of experience in boarding trains at office hours, you're about to go through hell.

I'll try to help, but success really depends on savage brute strength more than anything else.


A typical local train station
A typical local train station

You see the image above and you'd think it's Indian Mardi Gras and there are topless women inside that train generously presenting their assets to the people outside. If only.

If this is where you find yourself, first thing you need to take care of is your luggage. You Must have all your luggage tight in some sort of arrangement. Connect them with chains or something. The idea is to make sure none of it gets a crafty sneak out.

Normal work day

Our idea of hanging out.
Our idea of hanging out.


You seek adventure, go adventure in wildlife sanctuaries and trekking expeditions, not here. Trust me, these guys you see are professionals who have been doing it since they were 5 years old! They didn't have a choice because they took the train to school. My point is, You don't want to be one of them unless this is your post divorce trip and she won your house in alimony. And your car. And your dog. Hell, if she got your dog just go lie down on the tracks man.

Boarding the train

Remember to tell your mom you love her
Remember to tell your mom you love her

Ok I might have gone a little overboard(Pun totally intended! This is hilarious!) with this one right here. There's too many people, you won't encounter this many people. They probably saw an English guy. There's not gonna be another Gandhi anymore and they know that.

Which brings me to my point. If you're English, just go and sit anywhere you like. Don't fall asleep though, you might wake up in a lab.

For the rest of us, it's not that easy.

  • First of all, make sure your luggage is safe.
  • Secondly, if you notice people boarding the running train before it comes to a halt(yea that happens) you follow suit! Because there's a sea of people inside waiting to get off. And if you wait until they start getting off(which at this point, will not happen before all the smart guys, in short everyone, which may or may not include you, have already got on) you'll be waiting for a long time my friend. At least, until Sunday. Carry an inflatable tent which you will be robbed of later in the night along with all your things that are not your skin.
  • Remember to stand very close to the gate, and choose a side. Don't stand in the middle, unless you want to be carried away to a random guy's workplace.
  • ALWAYS tie a knot in your arm and around your largest backpack and ALWAYS thrust the luggage inside first. That way you don't risk leaving it behind on the station. Also, if you could not get up after your backpack, you could try yelling politely(yea that's a thing here. It's ok if you don't know how to do that, it's in the air of my country. You'll miraculously learn it when your time comes) and tell them there's a baby in there while running with the train. You will get your luggage back. One. Hundred. Percent!

Inside the compartment

You're Ethan Hunt. This. Is. Your. Mission.
You're Ethan Hunt. This. Is. Your. Mission.

Don't heave that sigh of relief yet. You will have to get down too remember?

While Inside:

  • Stay away from armpits. i'll admit that is easier said than done.
  • Ignore the people who are giving you strange looks. They haven't seen anything like you before.
  • Talk. Let your intuition pick out the innocent looking good fellas and tell them where you're going. That way, you don't have to worry about keeping track of your destination station. They will definitely give you a heads up. They will probably throw your ass out the window if they have to. They have no confidence in you and they think you don't have it in you to get down by yourself.
  • Screw them. You got on by yourself didn't you? My man!!

You thought Gandhi was done with you?

Godf#ckingdamnit Gandhi! This is NOT about YOU!
Godf#ckingdamnit Gandhi! This is NOT about YOU!

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    • mridulrai profile image

      Mridul Rai 2 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Readmikenow: You won't be disappointed. The experience that you take away will be a treasure to cherish. Forever. :)

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 2 years ago

      Very enlightening. I imagine there is quite a bit of culture shock when people from the United States travel to India. I still would go to India if the opportunity comes my way.

    • mridulrai profile image

      Mridul Rai 2 years ago from Kolkata, India

      It is my friend. It does get better with practice though.

    • Oliver Stark profile image

      Oliver Stark 2 years ago from Sacramento, California


      It must be really hard to board train in India