Saturday, 1 March 2008

Siteseeing - 16

The Indian Railways Fan Club

In these days of budget airlines and frequent flyer miles, and to hell with carbon footprints, this site is almost like leafing through an old picture album and finding photos of an old flame. Wait, did we say leafing through an album? Jeeze, we almost let on how old we are. ‘Browsing,’ we meant. So there. Like we were saying, this site brought back a rush of soft, fuzzy memories, of coal and steam and lonely whistle-stops in the middle of the night. The IRFCA is ‘a mailing list for discussing all aspects of railways in India.’ Started in the late eighties in the old Usenet days, hosted on various American university servers (the ‘A’ is a relic of its origins in America), became a mailing list, and, later, members consolidated material from personal sites and brought them all together in this domain. You can still join the list, or just have a great time wandering the existing content: maps, passenger services, routes, timetables, technical and seriously geeky stuff, travelogues, historical notes, and a treasure trove of photographs to warm any rail-lover’s heart. (There are also audio and video galleries.) There’s even a set of simulations, and screensavers. And cellphone wallpaper! No ringtones though. What I’d give for the sound of a train horn in the distance on a quiet night...

Published in Outlook Traveller, March 2008.

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