Ode to the Railways
Sachin Bhandary talks about his part-exasperating-part-exhilarating journey across India in 25 trains and 25 days
A few birthdays ago, on November 25, Sachin Bhandary decided to put his dream into action: quit a cushy job to travel the world. The “odd traveller”, as he likes to call himself, embarked on Project 12, with the mission of staying a month each in 12 countries.
“I was always fascinated by trains, even as kid. So it was only natural that I did a train journey within the country,” says the former PR professional. The India chapter of Project 12, called 25 Days, 25 Trains, started last year on 7 February. He travelled from Mumbai to the southern tip of Kanyakumari and then towards Ledo in Assam. From there, he reached Baramulla, the last station in the North on the banks of the Jhelum. Bhandary chose to travel not in the comfort of First Class AC, but in a general compartment. “The idea of the trip was to understand the cultural landscape, to see the Indian railway network and our people. I was happy to have had the opportunity,” he says, as he gears up to sharing his experience of surviving 25 Indian trains in 25 days today.
While he is all praise for those he met on his travels, from a talented coach of an Assam state handball team to a kind Kashmiri cop, the biggest “turn off,” he says were toilets. “They were filthy beyond words.”
Bhandary’s intrepid train diaries came to an unfortunate halt at the Westernmost point of Okha, in Gujarat, when he contracted malaria and missed a train. But, he is happy that the journey left him mentally and physically stronger.
“After going through that experience, I think I can undertake train journey. But, it was meant to be a one-time affair,” he smiles.
Apart from home turf, the globetrotter has struck off two other countries from the Project 12 map: Thailand and Sri Lanka. His next destination is Brazil, for which he leaves later this month.
Where: The Hive, 50A, Huma Mansion, Opp Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Rd, Khar West
When: 5 pm
Entry: Rs 250