“QUIRKY EXPERIENCES IN INDIAN TRAIN TRAVELS”
One look at the station you know there are a whole lot of things to purchase. Except for a few essentials like medicines, you can practically purchase many things of common needs that will be useful for the journey. But I don’t think the passengers care much on what price they pay, as getting them before stock is over, is of primary importance. The vendors at the stations to are aware that the passengers would willingly throw money, and are happy to play along charging at will. The Railways have fixed a price at which it has to be sold at the platform. Except that, it rarely happens.
Arriving at the station in a tearing hurry, you realize the need to buy some essentials for the trip at the station. Food, snacks and water are absolute essentials, without an iota of doubt. However while on the platform, the hunt for the nearest vendor begins. It is not unusual that vendors will not have what you want and you will be forced to compromise and buy another. But what disturbs your mind, at the first interaction, is the price quoted by the vendor nonchalantly. The price on the packet is never a matter of consideration, in the price negotiation.
You walk up to the right vendor who has his stock but is inflexible on the price. Soon it is apparent that you have little negotiation power, as people around you are willing to pay the price and take anything that comes their way. However what is even more problematic are those vendors who walk into the coaches while the journey is on. There are no maximum retail price fixed on what they sell, and so they decide the price, because demand outscores supply. It becomes a take it or leave it situation, and with no choice you take it, as food, snacks and water are important.
Decades have passed by but no strict action has been taken to enforce pricing discipline. It is easy to observe that some TTE in the coaches, not everyone though, tend to look the other way. It is absolutely wrong to say that they are hand in gloves with such vendors. After all they have to be on the journeys and the best way to stay safe for the TTE is to stick to their job and not be too bothered about what happens with the vendors. But it amply clear that the railway authorities are aware that such malpractices taking place. It is a sad reflection on the railways that they don’t take proactive measures.
The one good thing about the products sold by the vendors at the station and in the coaches is that they are genuine and of good quality. Finally bowing down to the demands of the vendors, we buy our needs at the demanded price. The journey continues and there is hardly any time for us to notify authorities. Many such journeys come and go, but the vendors go on forever. Unless the railways take stern action to regulate prices, down to MRP levels, it will continue to be one where it is typically a case of “it happens in India only”.