Among the people who have stopped flying and stared travelling by trains is my friends, who lives on the 21st floor.
This morning, when I called on him, he was packing his bags to go to Delhi. "I am travelling by the Rajdhani," he told me. "It is very convenient, evening you get in the train here, morning you are there, I have permanently booked six first-class compartments and 100 seats in the chair cars. That is best, no hassles about last minute bookings."
"Yes," I said.
"Just in case…I have also booked the Frontier Mail and the Paschim Express. The entire trains, with engines, brake vans and the pantry cars, but not the second-class unreserved compartment. They don't give you booking for that, you know."
"I know," I said.
My friend continued: "I also wanted to permanently book the Punjab Mail and the Jammu-Tawi Express, but then I though why unnecessarily spend money on rental charges, so I bouth both the trains. Now, whenever I want to travel by them, I run them. Otherwise, they are kept in the yard."
"Sensible thing to do," I said.
"The trains are all tight, now that I have made the arrangements, but the railway stations are very crowded, almost like Santacruz airport when I was travelling by air. But that is all right, now that I have bought half of Bombay Central station and the through line section of VT. The purchase of New Delhi station is under negotiation and should be finalised in the next day or two."
"That's nice," I said.
"I am trying to buy some stations along the route. You know, to get down at and stretch my legs, occasionally. Long journeys can be quite cramping," my friend said. "You whould have no idea, travelling by air all the time."
"I can imagine," I said.
"I have also bought or taken on lease trains on other sector. You know, the Madras Mail, for instance. The Gitanjali Express, I have bought only half of it, the other half, I understand, I going to the Tatas, as a part of their Haldia contract," my friend said, finishing jos packing and locking his bag.
"Why don't you buy the entire railway instead?" I asked. "That would be cheaper."
"I have considered that, but what would I do with it if they find that the A-320s are safe and I start flying again!" my friend said.