Most Hellish Train Ride: as a freshly-minted college graduate hired by a large global outsourcing comglomerate, I was relocated to India for 6 months in 2002. We were based in the (admittedly, quite pleasant) Southern Indian town of Bangalore. About halfway through our stint in India, we were to travel to the (admittedly underrated, but very hot) port city of Chennai (Madras). Not recognizing, or caring, about the preferred creature comforts of their 12 plucky US employees, our travel department made our Bangalore->Chennai arrangements on a train instead of a flight ($10 instead of $50, maybe). But not just any train... significant discount by taking the Mail Train - the overnight, very long, 20-30 (countless??) stops Mail Train which is basically a mix between Spirit Airlines and a broken down Greyhound bus from the 1950's. This trip took probably 15-20 hours, partially due to the fact that a famed local bandit (think, the “Robin Hood of India”, forgetting his name) had recently been killed - thus, they were stopping the train for a fairly long time each stop and inspecting it for the possible perpetrators, whom they didn’t find, to my knowledge. Highlights:

-yes, cockroaches can walk on train ceilings

-the loudest, most horrifying sound in the world is that of your female co-worker waking up to find a local Indian Train Cockroach on her face

-The 2002 version of the intra-India Mail Train did not have “Western” toilets. Thus, the bathroom facilities consisted of a hole. on the floor. In a small room. a hole that you stood over and made hay, onto the tracks below.

-Air conditioning=a box fan in the window of the train. Thus, an all-metal, non-air-conditioned train X 15 hour trip during summer in India X cramped living quarters = a rare smell. A *real* rare smell.

But at least we had “private sleeper cars”.