Good morning … Tatkal

The calling bell by the maid was the awaking call in the morning. I got up and instantly realized that we need to go for railway ticket booking for my in-laws. As planned a day before, I made my wife leave the bed without any further delay. We both decided to go for the booking as there is a dedicated ladies queue. Booking ticket using tatkal services at 8 AM is something that everybody should try at least once in their life time. I am sure it will give you immense pleasure of your patience and will also enforce your believe that life with family is no less meditation than that of a yogi.

We started our mission in the chilled winter of Delhi in January using a auto rickshaw. The driver as usual refuses to use meter. Probably, this time he had a good reason to say that he can not drive auto as per government fixed meter in winter. Me and my wife started in the auto at 6:30 AM in the morning. I was covering my nose with the monkey cap and inhaling the hot moist air of my mouth. The winter in open auto rickshaw was a good enough punishment for anybody.

We reached Sarojini Nagar railway booking counter at 7:10 and I was quite happy to see there were only three women in the ladies queue with the hope that we will get the ticket in 15 minutes and I will be able to reach office in time. My wife stood in the queue without further delay and I started looking out for the reservation form. I got it quite quickly and than started filling the form. Suddenly my wife left the queue and called me. To our surprise, we got to know that the photocopy of identity card of traveling passenger is required to book the ticket.

“Ohhh…” something which came out of my mouth by default.

“what to do now..” Trupti asked.

“Let me check with some more,” I said as I had the recent experience of AIIMS, where a gentleman gave a good piece of knowledge to leave the queue so that he can avail the ultrasound test service.

I went around asking few people about the new rule of photocopy in the complex process and to my surprise, most of them seemed to be aware of this. With utmost disappointment, we returned home. I was thinking of going to a Internet cafe as I had left the data card in the office. I reached home and started calling my junior colleague of my previous jobs to request for a ticket booking.

The first one said that his internet data card was just over last night and could not manage to send his CV to a prospective employer. The second one was quite brave to say that he slept last night late and was not feeling well enough to book a ticket. The Internet connection of the next two people were also not working. The fifth person, who is a system admin guy gave me a very good reason that there is a fiber cut in South Delhi and nowhere it would be working.

I was quite disappointed with the behaviors of my old colleagues. I was introspecting while walking to the internet cafe. I was searching for a cafe after three years in Delhi as I had internet connection all the time and to my surprise most of the cafe were closed at 7:55. Three years ago, there was cafe every where and student living in hostel used to stay the whole night in internet cafe for obvious reasons. Apparently one of them is a coaching centre, two of them are gym. Thanks to open telecoms policy (big scam) which made internet connection affordable to households.

Finally, I found a cafe in one of the corners of the village. When I entered, to my surprise there was only four persons in a 30-seater internet cafe. I purchased a coupon and started logging in. The railway booking website opened at 8:25 after waiting for 30 minutes. By that time I had checked my personal and official email account twice. I logged in and entered the passenger details and selected the payment gateway.

“You are being redirected to … ” Message got displayed. My pupil size increased with the hope that I will be able to book the ticket now. But the astrologer again proved to be right that if you work for 100 you will get 70.

“Session expires……..”, I started remembering the story “the old man and the sea”.

Closed Internet explorer and opened Chrome with a hope that it will do better. Sent an SMS to my new Boss “Will be late .. Busy in some personal work” and instantly got a message OK.

By the time I managed to enter ticket details for the second time, it was 8:56 AM.

“Beep… Beep.. Please save all your work, your time will be over in next five minutes.” The computer screen displayed the message.

“Boss .. one more coupon” I gave 10 more rupees and give it to the cafe boy. By the time I entered the coupon, the computer was logged off.

“Back to square one…” Started cursing myself for not extending the timing before.

Finally after 30 minutes of taking the second coupon, finally I had the ticket. I was quite happy that I was able to book the ticket. I was quite cool by that time and was realising the reason why all my old colleagues were giving technical reasons for not booking the ticket and the fact they are people with helping attitude. We have given blood to the needy in the past. So the moral of the story is, ask for a bottle of blood, you will get it easily, but not a tatkal railway ticket booking.

I was thinking of my first ticket booking in 1998 in Rourkela, I went to the railway station with Sushant and Probir and got the ticket. Two piece of paper, one was a small card (something that we get while checking weight in railway platform) and the other one was a carbon copy of white paper. Life was cool..

Now after 15 years, With broad band.. online booking…tatkal …

My attention was brought to focus when my mobile vibrated.. Three SMS, one from ticket booking, one from credit card and the last from my wife “Get half KG tomato”

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By Kedar Dash
Katwarai Sarai, New Delhi
Author may be contacted at kedar dot dash at gmail dot com