Luggage is allowed on the Kolkata metro

Calcutta: By bus and train

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Sit on the roof once!

On the go by public transport. No longer a problem in India today? No, no problem, but still an adventure. And a special experience. At least that is how our volunteer Caspar Radunz feels, who first drives in the couchette car of the Indian railways and then on a bus from Ranchi to Calcutta and beyond - and reports with delight: “It finally worked! I can go on vacation. A four-day trip to the city of Kolkata (Calcutta), which is only a night's drive away, and to the supposedly nearby Sunderbarns National Park, one of the largest tiger reserves in the world. "

The trip starts at 8.30 p.m. Binit, my best friend, and I will meet in front of the hostel. Spirit of optimism. Me with my huge hiking backpack (approx. 6 kg), he with a small bag (max. ½ kg) we march through the city to the train station.

Then the train pulls in. An unbelievable crowd: in, out, right, left, above me, everywhere, luckily at least the ground stays below me. Everyone does as they think. First let out, then get in well? Puff cake! Fortunately, we can find our seats quickly and I can continue to watch the goings-on from there. What is going on around me, I would call the perfection of ordered chaos. It is a mystery how it works, but with the conductor's whistle everything is inside that should be inside - and outside what should be outside. India!

At first, the train reminds me a lot of Germany. Only simpler, dirtier, broken, but the atmosphere and the structure of the wagon are very similar. There is space for six people in a couchette cabin (only without doors). During the day, the middle bed is folded down and serves as a backrest, you sit on the lowest bed and luggage is stowed on the upper one. Around 10 p.m. you simply fold the back of the seats up and - whoosh - three beds are created.

In the "normal" class with which we travel, the train doors are open all the time. Shortly before going to sleep, I sit down with my buddy at the edge and together we enjoy the wind for half an hour, watch the lights go by and sing - goose bumps! The typical images that one has in one's head about Indian features are now only half-truths. It is strictly forbidden to sit on the roofs and this is - as a rule - followed consistently. But that doesn't prevent leaning out of the doors or, if there is a lack of space, sometimes half hanging out, windows also offer good grip options in this case. Even when people are no longer sitting on the roofs, the train can grow in width if necessary ...

We arrive in Kolkata at 7 a.m. with a delay of just one hour. Right from the start, the city proves what it can do. Kolkata is the third largest city in India and famous for the features of colonial influences. At the time of colonization, Kolkata was one of the most important trading centers in the entire South Asian region. The size of the famous "Howrah" station suggests the size of the trade. The station, completed in 1854, has 33 tracks (of which only 23 are currently served), all of them in a long row next to each other. We are coming at platform 2 and have to go through the whole train station to the bus station.

The colonial influence shapes the sightseeing program for the next three days: visit the Victoria Memorial, go to St. Paul's Cathedral and get lost in Kolkata's largest market. We can explore the city with the subway !!

On the third day we go on a little adventure. We want to go to the national park, unfortunately the project turns out to be much more difficult than expected. We only know the nearest train station, but this is also still 2 hours away from our destination. When you get off the train then begins our adventure "Find the National Park".

So we three boys (together with another friend of my friend) are standing somewhere in the pampas in India and don't know where to go. But if you look, you will find. In that case actually a bus that is at least going in the right direction. We reach it with great difficulty, also thanks to the Indian traffic: The third member of the group makes it to the door, my best friend and I unfortunately only make it to the ladder at the back of the bus. It leads to the roof. Inwardly, first ticked the “What I want to have done in life list”. I really traveled India for an hour on the roof of a bus!

For the rest of the day I shine like a honey cake horse. No matter what happens today, I'm in India, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, on the roof of a bus! "