Indian Trains and Rape Alarms

We left Hotel Saurya in Varanasi around 4:30pm in this convoy and arrived at this manic and bustling station…the weight of my green army rucksack was like me piggy-backing another human being on my back!

I don’t know why I feel the need to carry so many things….that’s a whole other story for another day – the way I have belongings flying around the world right now and in India too 🙁


Anyway, we rock up at the station that was completely jam-packed like we feared!

You can imagine the scene with fifteen of us trying to get through and stay together while Mr. Harish and Manoj coordinated us through this human jungle to the platform and then on the train with all our crap, (or mostly my crap that everyone else was helping to carry) … Bonkersness!

I was of course also trying to take pictures to capture the madness and not helping in reducing it, – I am sure the group will agree!


To be honest when we got to our platform and had some minutes to chill, the getting to the train didn’t seem as manic as I thought it would be – our tour guides had everything completely under control!

No hitches at all except when I nearly got left behind! But that was my fault not theirs!

What was bonkers was people on the platform jumping on the moving train as it approached the station to get a decent seat on General Class (the class where you can’t book seats)! I mean you have to credit the skill and courage it takes to just jump on a moving train competing with several others hoping you grab onto something or find yourself in Varanasi longer than you expected.

Our Nepal group plus Harish, our guide were in one cabin. The cabin next door was with our extended group of six, while Vinny and Rowina were together in another bunker thingymajig situation!

Vinny is Sri Lankan and a teacher  but brought up in Australia and Rowina is also a teacher from OZ but of Anglo-Indian roots!

We settled in pretty quickly, with Danielle, James, Anna and Emily engrossed in some card game called 500…that they tried teaching Harish and I but failed miserably but just wasn’t happening!

I was craving some mangoes for the journey while the rest wanted ice-cream.

I managed to do the ice cream run and then did a mango one after I finished my chocolate, heavenly ice cream.

While I was paying for the mangoes on the platform, I looked up and my train was on the go…so I had to run like the General Class runners or be left behind….
Happy to report, me and my mangoes made in on the train or I would be telling a very different story right now.

Andrew and James

With twelve hours ahead of us someone was clever enough to bring some Vodka and coke and maybe some whisky too I think but by 10:30pm we were all seeing double and climbed into our bunkers to sleep. I think this was the first time I got tipsy in India…

I love sleeping on trains, something very cosy about it, exciting and a great bonding session too! 

Anna and Danielle

My best friend Zawadi and I had the most epic train journey from Mombasa to Nairobi when we were about fifteen…

One we will never forget as we were both being sent back home to Nairobi on the second day of a week long tour by our school’s head coach. She realised after one night of revelry we did not come to the beach to play squash 🙂 So the next day she sent us packing!!

It was a vey traumatic journey and one that I can thankfully see with humour now but 17 years ago, the reality was very different…us on the train stuck in a cabin for twelve hours with a chinese karate black belt mama and a ninja nun counting down the hours for when we will be delivered to our parents who only wanted our blood!

Anyway, back in India, we got woken up at around midnight by some dudes who thought we were sleeping in their cabin and us sleep talking to them trying to explain they were in the wrong coach…and after ten minutes they realised their mistake and then for the next ten minutes they ended up apologising for their faux pas….


At 4am, I was tossing and turning and while I was trying to sort myself out my freaking rape alarm goes off in my bag…and I’m like “shit, sorry…” fumbling in the dark trying to switch this thing off.

Harish from below, thinking my phone alarm just went off, wakes up and says…”don’t worry, you have time…it’s not time have one more hour.”
Lucky for him, I wasn’t being molested … everyone else just slept through it all. Anna said she only woke up when I was apologising!
In the morning, this bloody rape alarm became the joke of the tour!

The fact that it was shaped like a heart on a key chain, that it was chained to my make up bag, so how was I supposed to find it if I was being attacked and then the most obvious was the sound the alarm makes. It sounded like a car alarm!!

So everyone asked me, “how are people supposed to know that the alarm means rape? How would anyone know to come to your rescue? At least if the alarm shouted FIRE! or HELP! this would make sense! or maybe even RAPE!”

Worst still, this is India, there are far more louder and more annoying sounds filling the air at all times of the day….

This alarm sounds like someone’s mobile ringer, or a renegade tuk tuk driver’s horn or could even be the sound from one of those cheap ‘made in China’ toys sold on street corners that last as many minutes as rupees you paid for it … 10 rupees for 10 minutes etc etc!

So the moral of the story, rape alarms are not the cleverest device to bring as protection especially in a place like India. Also I still do believe that the loudness of the alarm could scare off a potential attacker but that will give you a window of about one minute to run like Usain Bolt!

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Indian Maasai