Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Brush with the system

Time is one of the most mesmerizing elements of life. This thought crossed my mind only because I am going to tell you about an incident that happened some time ago.

When I use ‘sometime’, I mean a time not long back, not in recent past. So there was a time when in India all had to stand in queues to get the railway reservation done. It was just before the digital divide took place, when men were not divided into online and inline, those having credit cards and those not having credit cards.

I had to travel and my journey was as usual, unplanned. Getting a reservation in train
was always difficult. It was so in good old time when population was less, food was cheap and trains ran on time. It was difficult now when the one billion mark crossed unceremoniously. To put it in simple terms, I had to travel and did not have a reservation.

Some people are fighters and I call myself that. I decided to get the ticket under tatkal scheme. For those who do not know, a percentage of tickets are available just some days before, of course at a dearer cost. Reservation under tatkal begins at 8:00 AM sharp and all tickets get sold within minutes.

So I decided to leave no stone unturned and reached the reservation counter at 4:30 AM to be first in the line. I underestimated my competitors and three people already present at the counter. But not bad, even after those three, I had a good chance to get the prized tatkal reservation done.

The time passed well and like common Indians, all those present there developed a bond, shared their newspapers, discussed politics and made a new cricket team. Thus we were having a good if not great time there. Wait a minute, clock was nearing 8:00 AM and reaching the counter early is necessary but not sufficient condition to get the ticket done. The clerk also has to come.

At 7:55 AM our searching eyes saw the lady clerk arriving from a distance, with serenity like Buddha on her face and the regal gait of a king. I bet no one, but those working in the government departments can perfect that aura.

The lady was meticulous; she entered the office at sharp 8:00 AM, brought a water glass for her, watched herself in a mirror, made a small prayer, ignored the murmurings of commoners and patiently booted the computer. By the time computer opened and the first ticket was made it was already 8:15 AM.

The work happened as usual and the story ends. Oh yes, what happened to my ticket. You guessed it right, did not get it and so did the two others who came before me. Even if this blog was of no help in the treatise of time, I know you must have by now understood why people here believe in god and the theory of karma.


Rahul said...

Generally all common Indians have had this opportunity to be tortured at a railway reservation counter..

after coming to IIT, its better the reservation counter at the gate saves some efforts but even there its painful sometimes

I think we need those automatic ticket machines( similar to atms) used abroad. that will help to reduce the trouble a bit

Karthik said...

Is it just me or are you actually losing focus of what you want to post?

Anurag Srivastava said...

@Rahul: Yes automatic machines can be some help. But I think internet reservation is doing fine and if it can be made more accessible, it can become the solution.

@Kartik: I have somewhat edited it :)