Troubling Tuesday on Amtrak

At JFK Airport with Rajesh, Shephali and Svanik

At Little Neck residence of Rajesh

As Anand stated, I was the first from extended Sharma family who was taking a train to travel a major distance in US. I don’t know why but then I decided to take an Amtrak train for getting to Cary in North Carolina from New York.

At Penn Railway Station, New York

After three nights with Rajesh and spending quality loving time with Svanik, on Tuesday September 21, 2010 we got up very early at around 3AM to catch the train that was scheduled for 6.15AM from New York, Penn station. Rajesh didn’t have a dry run to find the traffic that is usually awesome around Manhattan. Rajesh was to return in time to take care of Svanik who would have been alone. Shephali goes early morning to hospital where she is doing her Masters. On previous evening, we had discussed to take a taxi but finally Rajesh decided to do it himself

Traffic was thin at that lean hour, but in a new place I was a scary GPS wonderfully helps reaching the destination. And then after parking on the street itself in a safe place in front of Penn station that appeared to me as an office high rise building we carried the three suitcases and other and went in the basement that houses the station.

Rajesh had to wait for getting the baggage checked in , but when the counter opened, at 5..15 AM, the person manning it said in the train that we were taking we couldn’t check in the baggage. For anxious moment I was cursing myself to having taken the decision. But in the meantime Rajesh talked with the porter on a counter who asked us to rest in waiting room and he would manage to get us in the train with baggage naturally at a cost. Rajesh advised me to pay him well and left.

I was worried as usual. But very soon the man took all the baggage and got us in the train that was in time on the track. There were hardly far passenger on the platform. We got in to the business class

In a new place it was natural to get scary in such a situation. But the train ride was very comfortable. The seats were wide. As one of the suitcases was bigger and heavier, we had to keep the same in front of our seats. For travelling in US, one must keep the weight in each suitcase less than 23 kgs.

But the journey was worth taking it. I could see US from a train I like the train journey even in India. The child in me keeps on seeing all around without a blink. US is certainly pretty industrialized and having a lot of forestry all around. But around Richmond, we found the train taking a different trek. It got delayed by almost an hour

I was in constant touch with Rajesh and then Anand took over. Finally we reached Cary late but pretty well in evening. Anand with Shannon and kids were on the platform to receive us. All worries got off the mind and the happy moments around

Even with companies as GE and other that have done great work in technology related to Railway engine, US is hardly having a developed railway system While china runs the fastest train in the world covering a 700-mile journey in five hours, by comparison America’s Amtrak takes eighteen hours to cover similar distance.

At Mount Rocky Station Platform of Amtrak

I was surprised that the concept of platforms nonexistent in US. The train coach had a small staircase that comes out at the platform that looks like a street. The conductor laid a small stool to help passengers to get down from the train.

I am sure US must go for better and faster railways just as China is going. It will save energy wasted in planes and cars that are the most popular mode of travel in the country. Recently I read about how the governor of California had travelled South Korea, Japan and china to explore possibility of getting a fast train system laid for travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I don’t know if Americans will like to switch over to train as and when it comes up.
PS: While Amtrak crossed places such as New Jersey, Baltimore and Richmond, Yamuna kept on talking about some sweet memories of her 1993 visit to Anil Singh in New Jersey and Onkar Singh in Baltimore with Rakesh. Anil Singh is back in India, but Onkar is perhaps still in Baltimore as he is doctor by profession and had a very good practice. Many more acquaintances must be in places en route Amtrak from New York to Cary. Rajesh had been to New Jersey where Radha Khaitan had organized an HM Reunion. However, with time we keep on losing the contact and closeness and even basic courtesy to visit the known ones or be once in a while their host.

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