Boarding a train in 1960s and 70s was not less than an adventure.
There was no reservation system. Seating was on first come, first serve basis like it was in aircrafts until two decades ago.
Boarding a train in peak season had to be well planned, particularly if you were travelling in a group. The entire group, young and old, would put all their experience and thinking caps on. There’d be discussions, debates, extrapolations to finally arrive at a location on the platform where the probability of getting comfortable seats was higher.
Those who were not so smart, the elderly, ladies and children were given charge of the baggage. The plan was to peep through the windows on the train’s arrival and at a lightning speed place a baggage or a handkerchief at an empty spot, vacated by the passenger getting down at that station. Next, you’d crawl inside through the window and occupy whatever seat was available. In case the window seat is not vacant, request the window passenger to place some belonging of yours on the closest vacant seat.
Once inside the compartment, while some members got busy conquering more seats, others would get the baggage in. The boss-like ladies and the elderly members of the group were given first preference to sit. Ah, what an exercise! One could see the triumph on their faces!
During absolute top peak season, one was considered lucky if he found a place to sit in front of the washrooms the entire night of travel. One would put his head on whatever support available; it could be his own knees, a suitcase placed in front, or the neighbour’s shoulders.
If not crowded, you could spread your legs on the bench and sleep. On the upper side in the compartment, there were racks to hold luggage. Those who were more courageous would dump the baggage and sleep on the racks.
There could be a one-by-two system too. On the racks, either you sleep by turn or two people could sleep together with heads in opposite directions!
With all the art and technique you possess, sometimes you still wouldn’t find a seat. Then, it’s time to use your diplomacy! Depends how good you are! Do it in three stages. First, through the window or door, somehow manage to enter inside the compartment and get a place to stand. Next, pass on a nice smile to the person already sitting followed by some friendly talk. Finally, encroach by requesting him to give away a part of his seat. Mission successful! People would be generous probably because that was the way he got his seat at the earlier station!