We were welcomed on board with refreshing mocktails as the train made its leisurely way through the city’s outer suburbs. I unpacked and took a measure of the amenities in my cabin. The beds were first rate; there was a television on the wall, a writing desk as well as a cell phone to call for service. There was wi-fi. The shower and toilet had the usual goodies you find in any decent hotel. Best of all, when you flushed the toilet your poo did not end up on the tracks below. That was a first for me on an Indian train!
On this run, the Deccan Odyssey had five passenger coaches, each with four cabins with double or twin beds.
Another coach had two presidential suites for the well-heeled with drawing rooms adjacent to the sleeping area. The number of coaches are added or subtracted from week to week depending on the demand. There was a spa if you felt like a massage, a conference room and a library. The staff quarters were at the other end of the train.
After a hot shower, I changed from shorts into something less casual and headed for the bar where I ordered a stiff Scotch. This was another first for me, a bar on an Indian train! Sure, I have had drinks before on Indian trains, even with ice, but always surreptitiously and with pangs of guilt! Then I checked out the restaurant.
There were two dining rooms with the kitchen in the middle, both with plush seating for two on one side of the aisle and four on the other. The waiters were attentive and smartly dressed, sometimes in kurta and Maharashtrian-style dhotis and at other more formal occasions in black sherwanis.
The menu offered a choice of Indian or European cuisine. On my first evening I opted for rack of lamb, medium rare. It was made to perfection by the London-trained chef on board, Simarpal Singh Virdi, who had earlier done a stint at Indigo, an up-scale Mumbai restaurant.
Except for a high tea at the Falaknuma Palace on our stop in Hyderabad, all our meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, were on the train throughout the trip. There was always a choice at all meals.Falaknuma Palace – Hyderabad
The more adventurous foreigners tried out the local stuff, biryani one day, perhaps Goan fish curry the next. I stuck to the non-Indian cuisine. The baked salmon took my fancy one evening and Thai green curry at lunch the following day. There was also sushi. The breakfast menus included the usual selection of breads, also idli, upma, pao bhaaji as well as eggs Benedict, sausages and omelettes.