Gandhi once claimed that the only way to really see India was by train. He was referring to the essence of India, the 70% of its people living in more than 550000 villages. This was before Partition and Independence in 1947 and so realistically it was also likely the only feasible way.
Rickshaw to the left of me, motorbike to the right, here I am, tuk-tuk in the middle with you.
Since then, advances in air and road travel provide equitable alternatives as far as getting about goes, but you can’t see much ground detail from a plane and road development has no where near kept pace with the automobile industry. The Black Hole of Calcutta-like potholes are deep enough to reduce the 4-wheel drive, air-conditioned, Japanese jeeps that crawl the Indian highways to rickshaw speeds.
This once again leaves train travel as the one realistic mode of transport for achieving Gandhi’s goal. Not only was Gandhi ahead of his time on humanity and politics, but also a visionary in transport logistics!
Other posts in this series: Passages from India.