Our 11hr train journey from Goa to Mumbai on the Mandovi Express-10104
First Class on the 10104 Service
We have left the quiet village of Arambol and are headed for Mumbai CST, the busiest train stain in the whole of Asia!
I decided with 11 hours to kill that I should not only finish the post for Arambol but document our journey to Mumbai. We are travelling first class, or ‘1 A/C’ which was not our first choice but we left it too late for any other option. The trains here can be booked months in advance so the cheaper journeys were totally booked up for weeks and weeks. Our tickets were an expensive Rs2000 each (£23.40) but when you read about what we have and compare that to the UK it is quite impressive. So, we find ourselves on an enormous train with just half a carriage of 1 A/C. On the other occasion that we travelled first class we were in a four person compartment and luckily had it to ourselves. This time we have it even better – there are just 2.5 1 A/C compartments and we are in the half carriage – a private room to ourselves! The journey is scheduled to take just under 11 hours and covers 685km (425m.)
This first class compartment is very nice indeed. We are provided with clean sheets, a blanket, pillow and a bar of soap each. We have seats/beds, a power point for charging, a sink, a variety of different lighting options, air conditioning, a bin, a cupboard with hanging space and a fan. Not only do we get all that but also free food! Our lunch of choice was provided free of charge and delivered to our compartment by one of the many many catering staff on board. We may even get dinner too!
The food and drinks are carried up and down the train, seemingly non-stop, and there is a massive amount of choice on this particular train. The staff (all male) usually carry one thing each and call out their wares until they are flagged down. So far the choices on just this train have included: chai, coffee, water, milk, cool drinks, egg roll, chicken roll, veg patties, chicken lollipop (fried a bit like KFC), veg and chicken noodles, chicken manchurian, egg, veg or chicken fried rice, sandwiches, samosas, tomato soup, fruit salad, yogurt, various branded snacks and at least 3 other items we could not identify from the call (and did not catch a glimpse of because of our little compartment.) Henry always has a few coffees on the train as they are just how he likes it: moderately milky and very very sweet (it is pre mixed and after trying it several times I just stick to the water) They are also very affordable at just Rs6 each (0.7p!)
I’m now re-reading this post before I post it over a week later. The update is we did actually have to pay for some of the food in the end. At the end of the journey a man came with a bill but we could not work out if it was for lunch, dinner or both and the man could not explain it so we will never know.
The last hour or so of the trip was spent crawling through the outskirts of Mumbai at a very slow pace passing many temporary settlements of people living under tarpaulins and cooking outside. The litter along the tracks got worse and worse. (There is a lot of litter along all the train tracks in India, the standard thing to do is to throw everything out of the window.) The trail of mess was added to by the man who cleaned our compartment. We were waiting by the door, watching the city pass us by, and the bin we had been pleased to see and dutifully using the whole journey was emptied out of the door on the other side! There seems to be no sense of pride or ‘keep India tidy’ feeling among the people. In all of our journeys we only met one man who was unhappy with the way everything was thrown out of the window and he did not say anything to those who were doing it in the same carriage. It is a shame because most of the stuff is not biodegradable and it is spoiling some stunning countryside.
The Mandovi Express: Goa to Mumbai – April 19th 2012