So be warned, this post is all about India and an experience involving an the Indian Railway.
However, I’m not going to talk about my own experiences traveling or volunteering or living in this huge, diverse land. Instead, I want to bring your attention to the experiences of another traveler, Mr. Drew Gilbert.
I first met Drew and family (he’s been traveling around the world with his wife Christine and their adorable son Cole) just before Christmas last year while in Thailand. I think the first time I met him was at an Indian restaurant actually. I know for certain that the last time I hung out with him was at the PS Lanna Bowling Lanes in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
And while Drew may not exactly be a world-class bowler, he sure is a solid guy, one with whom I thoroughly enjoyed talking and getting to know. Even more, he’s one talented storyteller (which I’ll get to in a minute). Anyway, shortly after Drew, Christine and Cole left Thailand, they traveled eastward, landing in India. And given my own love of this land, it was only natural that I would follow his adventures closely.
During Drew’s visit to the subcontinent he decided to participate in what, to many, might be considered complete insanity. He joined a small group of people who embarked on the Great Indian Railway Challenge, a 16-day train journey that circumnavigated the entire country of India, traveling in one giant circle and covering 12,000 kilometers along the way.
As if one simple overnight train journey in India wasn’t full of enough challenges, Drew wanted to delve even deeper, to challenge himself as much as possible. So off he went to experience India in a way that few people would ever have a chance to do.
But here’s the thing, Drew knew what he was doing. He knew his insane train journey would be full of rewards and lessons that only an intense Indian adventure could provide and so instead of passing the time with eyes closed, just waiting for the trip to finally reach its end, he chose to keep his eyes as wide open as he possibly could at all times. He kept his eyes open in Mumbai, Dwarka, Delhi, Assam, Darjeeling, Kolkata, Chennai, Rameswaram and every city, town and village in between.
As a result, he not only has an amazing story to share, but he has also given every one of us an opportunity to feel India, to explore India and to learn from India just as he did. Being the gifted storyteller he is, Drew has managed to transform his unique observations and experiences into…
“a wildly entertaining tale about one man’s lengthy train journey around the fascinating world that is India. It’s a useful travel guide, educational tool and brilliant personal account of the shocks, surprises, struggles and unfamiliar observations that every travel to India must deal with. Drew’s honest writing style also brings the reader directly into the story and once you finish reading this book, one thing is for certain. You’ll be more excited than ever to experience India for yourself.”
The above really sums it all up. I actually wrote those words as a review immediately after I finished reading his excellent book, Surviving The Indian Railway.
And the reason I wanted to write this post now and bring it to your attention is just in case any of you…
a) plan to visit India and are looking for a unique way to learn what to expect
b) want to visit India but need some extra inspiration before you book a flight
c) have already visited India and want to relive your surreal adventures
c) enjoys reading high-quality travel stories that immediately transport you to the destination being described
If you fit into any of those categories, I just thought you might be interested in having a read of Drew’s story as well. It’s even more entertaining than watching him go bowling.
Surviving The Indian Railway – $9.99 – Click here for more details