Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Musical Chairs in the Train

Last Durga Puja holidays I traveled from Calcutta to New Delhi to be with my family members. To get train reservation during Puja holidays in Calcutta, you have to get your act together exactly 60 days in advance (some times the Indian Railways changes it to 90 days). After calculating the dates etc. I prepared myself to make the reservation on the designated day when the counters will open at 8 a.m. The reservation counter was just across the road from the place where I was staying. I was told that I would have to reach the reservation counter at 3 in the morning to note down my name in a list maintained there to avoid standing in the queue for long time. I did not believe this but still wanted to give it a try and walked across to the reservation counter at wee hours in the morning. The guard was rolling up the shutters of the counters and yes, there were two lists lying on the counters in which there were already sixteen and seventeen names noted down respectively. I entered my name in one of the lists and was told by the guard to go back to sleep and come in the morning just fifteen minutes before the opening of the counters at 8 am. To be on the safer side I reached a bit early, and sure enough, I was given my due place in the queue as per my serial number in the list. The counters opened at 8 am sharp and by the time my turn came the booking status in the Rajdhani Express was showing waiting list 166.

After reaching the office I narrated my story to one of my colleagues. He suggested that I contact some travel agent if I wanted confirmed reservation. I did so and the agent suggested to me to take the reservation in broken form i.e., in the same train same date I would be given booking up to a certain station some where midway and then again from that station to New Delhi without getting down from the train. I readily agreed as I was desperate to get the reservation, though, it meant paying more to the Railways as well as to the agent because of two tickets. On the day of the journey I occupied my seat of the first leg. When the ticket examiner came I took out two tickets stapled together with a little hesitation as I was afraid that my co- passengers will make fun of me for holding two tickets for the same train journey. To my utter surprise every passenger in that compartment was holding two tickets each. At the midway station no one got down and no new passenger boarded but we all did some musical chairs in the same compartment.

This post is part of the series on my life journey. To read all the posts in this series please click here.

1 comment:

Vikas said...

Balli,

I have had this experience once myself while travelling from Lucknow to Mumbai. And the idea did not come from an agent, but the booking clerk himself!