THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF INDIAN RAILWAYS

Just when you think you have it all figured out, life has this way of gently bumping you on the head and reminding you that hey, there are a few things which are not in your control and can go horribly wrong. Well, yesterday, I had one such experience.

At first I was under the impression that the Institute would give me a concession form for wherever I wanted to go during the Term Break. Hey after all it was my time and I assumed that I would have the independence of going wherever I wanted to. However, that was not to be. Apparently this system is only for people who go straight to their home town and back. As for me, I wanted to go to Bangalore, but through Chennai simply because of the fact that the company on the train to Chennai was more stimulating than the one on the train to Bangalore. Plus, the route via Chennai took me to Bangalore two to three hours earlier than the train to Bangalore, funny as it sounds, it is true!!!

I thought well now that since I don’t have the railway concession forms it’s not going to be tough booking tickets. However, the others who were traveling with me on the train to Chennai had their Railway Concession Forms. There we were, Arun and me walking into the Indore Computerised Railway Reservation Counter with a confident gait, like born winners. We were there to claim our rightful ticket (concessional ones at that too!!!) on the train. I went ahead and booked my tickets, the ones without the concession in five minutes. So far so good.

We then patiently waited our turn at the counter specified for tickets with concessions. At first I smiled at the person behind the counter and handed him the Pink Concession Form as well as the Reservation Form which I had filled up. First mistake, I mentioned BHOPALCHENNAI when the concession form stated clearly INDORECHENNAI. So, first iteration, change the source station to INDORE. Then we were told that we needed to get the concession form verified by some Jack at the Railway Station which was a five minute walk from the Reservation Counter in the pouring rain. However, we were determined to make the 40 minute bike ride worth the effort. So there we were drenched and stinking, waiting in another queue for the verification.

Cut to Indore Railway Station, the verification counter. A nice little old guy sitting there behind the window, who wasn’t actually so nice when it came to Human Relations and Customer Service. He insisted that no college would have a Semester Break at this time of the year. Plus, he had a problem with me giving him so many forms (around 4 in number) for verification. Somehow, I managed to control my temper, even when he was pretty sarcastic and irritating through the whole process. After around taking 5 minutes of his abusive language, we managed to get him to verify the forms.

Cut back to the Reservation Counter. This time around we didn’t bother to smile and shit like that. We stretched the form out. We should’ve seen what was coming. Another five iterations later (consisting of various changes in the Reservation Forms), we were told that we couldn’t use the form unless we completed our journey by the midnight of September 30th. This was the last straw.

We finally decided that the concession was not worth this effort and finally booked the tickets without any concession. I guess that’s the way it’s going to be for the next two years. Three Cheers to the Indian Railways, for making rules like Student Concessions and actually managing to dissuade students from availing them.

I can’t wait to get home. After all home is where the heart is. Signing off…..Jamster

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