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Booking Trouble

September 12, 2013

The ticket made me feel secure till I reached the station. Then came the shocking news.

By R K Murthi
Booking Trouble

I hold a record, however dubious it be, of having missed my scheduled trips, despite having confirmed bookings in trains on several occasions.

Will someone knowledgeable tell me whether my record qualifies me for entry into the Guinnes Book; or, at least the Limca Book?

What is the record I have created? Well, I can shoot the answer straight.

I hold a record, however dubious it be, of having missed my scheduled trips, despite having confirmed bookings in trains on several occasions. .

The mandarins, who man the Rail Bhawan, may call me a liar, assert that I must be off the rockers to claim that record. Not their fault.

They may not have heard the definition of truth by one of the greatest men of this century. “Truth,” said Sir Winston Churchill once, “is so precious it has to be protected by a bodyguard of lies.”

Let me dispel the lies and set the record straight.

Five years back, I had to go to Madras. (Chennai, if you are a fastidious stickler to new names).

I got the ticket, after reaching the counter, about two hours ahead of the scheduled time of opening of the counter, still finding myself fourth on the queue, on the very first day booking opened.

I did not leave the counter till I checked that my age and sex were duly endorsed on the ticket, lest some duty-conscious ticket examiner takes the pain of cross-checking the details with my looks.

The ticket made me feel secure till I reached the station. Then came the shocking news. The train had been cancelled because of non-arrival of the train’s counterpart, from Madras, in time.

The loud speaker blared, “We regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers due to last-minute cancellation caused by factors beyond our control. Passengers can claim full refund from the counter.”

The officials thought the term, Full Refund, would be the ideal balm to my bleeding heart. Alas! It failed in its objective.

One miss doesn’t a record make! But a second miss! Well, that happened some time later. I had a firm reservation for Patna. I marched to the right compartment, only to find a large crowd swirling around, blocking my entry.

I peeped in and found all the seats occupied. I turned to a railway official who told me that the occupants were members of a very influential political party. These intruders stuck to the seats, despite plea from the railway officials.

The interlopers said they would not budge. They sneered at me and others with confirmed bookings, challenged us to throw them out if we could.

The officials threw in the towel soon enough. They told us, “Advice you postpone your trip. We can’t dislodge them. They are on their way to a big rally called by a powerful leader.”

Then came other occasions when I was left out in the cold. Once, I held a reserved seat, but found on entry into the compartment that there was another person who too held a valid ticket for the same berth. The one who lost out in the contest was me.

How about the time when I had a reserved ticket, but the bogie in which I had my seat, during last minute check, showed defects in the wheel joints and was uncoupled from the train, spoiling my travel plan!

Don’t you agree that I hold a record of sorts? Don’t I deserve a place in the Book of Records, either foreign or native?

Can I book a place in the records, without fear of last minute trouble?

This piece of writing was also published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).

Books by R K Murthi:

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