“QUIRKY EXPERIENCES IN INDIAN TRAIN TRAVELS”
Here are some Indian train ticket booking memories, that date back to the 1980’s to 1990’s and are evergreen. It is one experience, the Millennials or the Gen Y of today, will never witness. So here goes for memorabilia sake…
Rush for ticket counter:
I often rushed to the station at 5am hoping to be among the first ten to get to the counters. Still I fell behind a whole lot of people. Hundreds of them literally, would have descended there at 3am itself. When the ticket counter opens, a mad rush ensues. It was absolute thrill to push aside many out of the way to stand first when the counters open. My “operation dash” never failed me.
Card tickets issued:
Tickets issued were on 2″x1″ thick brown cards. Most times on pre-printed cards, and at other times on pre-numbered cards. On one hand, I had to endure the challenge of speaking loud to the ticket issuer. Hopefully he heard me right and matched it with the scribbled paper forms I gave. On the other hand, it is my turn to match his scribbling on the ticket issued, with my travel details.
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Tendering exact change:
Often ticket costs are paid by tendering exact fare, else the fare will be rounded off, for want of change. This often resulted in me making the rounds asking people in the queue, whether they have change. Pat will come the reply NO. This normally went on for the longest possible time, till some semblance of change is exchanged for the ticket. Pretty exasperating times. By the time I leave the counter with the ticket, it was always like where did I land myself in.
Borrowing pens to write on forms:
I was quite naive many a time giving out my pen to elderly people to write with. This resulted in me often borrowing pens, for my own use. The other person gives it to me with a suspecting look as though I may run away with his pen. To be on the safeside he removes the cover of the pen, and give it to me. He knows his pen will find its way back to him. Remember those were the days when pens written with nibs and ink were still in popular use. How many of us recall using Pilot pens which were among the most popular ones then?
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Tackling the challenge of the touts:
Curiously, the touts had a way of trapping their customer. They always hang around the counters and listen in to conversations of the people in the queue. Not only, they give their two bits of advice, but also win over the minds of those in the queue. Consequently, tired of standing in queue there will be one who falls for his words. From there on the tout plays his game of tips and tricks. This was a regular feature for a long time. I kept them in check, by not engaging in a conversation with them. Earlier, I have observed cases, where fake tickets are issued and the passengers caught and fined.
Answering questions of others:
When I am successful in buying a ticket, others in the queue jump in my way to ask me questions. Some are logical like which train was mine, the fare, available tickets, and waitlist number. The illogical questions range from whether counter person in in good mood, is he fast enough, how long to wait. The first thought that crosses my mind is to get out of the place quickly, to avoid pickpocket incident in such crowds.
Times have moved on:
So many memories fly by as I write this. Over the course of 30 years everything has changed. Now you get tickets at the flick of a finger. The world has moved on for the better and I am glad we will not see those trying days again. But for me having experienced the thrills and spills of that day, it is always a trip down memory lane.
I will cover unauthorised vendors in one of my upcoming posts.
Until then here’s signing off for the day. Please come back for more tomorrow.
The quirky experiences on an Indian train travel continues….