Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Travel without Ticket....Speaking of experience ;)

On 27th March 2009, a holiday on the occasion of Ugadi was declared in Hyderabad & Bangalore. So On March 26th, I decided to take an Off and head to my all time fav hangout, Bangalore! On 25th night, I boarded the Rajdhani (wondering how a sleeper class traveler, suddenly boarded the Rajdhani? :) Well, it was dad who had booked the tickets & daddy's ladli will have all the luxury during her travel;)) By the way, the service on the train sucked this time. Till 9:30 PM, not even a bottle of water was served. My mom repeats a proverb in tamil quite often, "veetu choru irrundha, virundh choru irrukum", which means "if you have home made food with you, you will find all sorts of things to eat outside else nothing".
Fortunately, my regular travelling has taught me, that whenever you travel, 3 things that you should carry with you is a bottle of water, spare cash(apart from the one which you are going to spend on your regular needs) & a biscuit packet :P You never know where you will need it :).

Peacefully, after I hogged my dinner, I dozed off only to realize at 6am that Banglore had arrived. As usual I took the pre-paid auto coupon & headed home. After an awesome holiday with my loved ones, on Sunday I had to head back to Hyderabad, leaving me with the lovely memories of a productive & great extended weekend.
With a heavy heart, I reached the Bangalore City station, as always, bought a bottle of water & some snacks to munch on, knowing that I was travelling in the luxurious 2nd AC coach (again thanks to Papa :)) in Kacheguda express, I was imagining myself, reading my Jhumpa Lahiri "An unaccustomed earth", munching, and enjoying the travel thoroughly :) (In Phoebee's word) "Bam!!" something had gone wrong... what was it??

Well let me take you on a flash back ride here. When I left for Bangalore, I had checked my PNR status for the return ticket which was waiting list No.3 then. I was expecting by the end of 3 days, it will get confirmed (banking on my previous experiences). And on Saturday,
It did! :) On Saturday night, I saw my ticket status as confirmed & had got a nice berth too. So great! I had a good night sleep, had a fun Sunday with my very close friends and the rest is what I mentioned in the previous para. So what went wrong? Well, I have a habit of checking the passenger list before boarding the coach & because I had a confirmed ticket,
I knew what my coach and berth number were. As always, I just walked till the place where the list was pasted and checked.. & "Bam!” my name is missing from the list. On that berth there was an old lady. "This has to be a mistake, what the hell is this??, why is my name not there in the list!!" were my thoughts.

So I scrolled through the whole list and confirmed that I was missing! Oh my god!!! "Alright Pavs, don't panic! There is a possibility, that the coach number has changed, so lets check the other coach", was how I convinced myself. Next coach checked, 1st AC list checked (sometimes they upgrade your class if there is no vacancy, again by experience :P), 3rd AC list checked...
No sign of my name on the lists... "They definitely have made a mistake! My ticket online shows the confirmation!!!" echo in my head. Let's recheck the status again, I called my best buddy Pratap who was down with fever then for my rescue. He checked online and confirmed that my ticket was confirmed with the same coach and berth number for 28th. Then I decided, I will meet the TT & discuss it with him, I am sure he will know what is wrong. I had my laptop
& a very useful relience data card connection if he needed a confirmation. So I smiled to myself & consoled that all will be fine once the TT arrives.

Clock's ticking... 6:07pm,.... where in the vicinity,6:14... No clue yet... 6:18, what the heck!!.. 6:20 is the departure time!!! 6:22... Finally a dark figure walks in and looks at me waiting outside. I immediately pounded on him like a hungry Lion :). I explained my situation to him & asked him to verify, but he was quite convinced that my ticket was not confirmed, after
he verified the list. As soon as he took my ticket in his hand, the train started. "Oh hell!!! Now what??!" was my thought, I boarded the train & he boarded the train behind me. As I continued to make a polite and gracious ;) argument with him, he suddenly asked me "THE QUESTION!"... "What is the date today Madam?" I replied with sheer innocence, "28th March! Why?” a guy waiting in the queue to talk to the TT responded from behind my back, "It's 29th today!".

"Okayyy!! So now I don't have a ticket! Oh lord! I don't have a ticket!! yaaaeeeeeekkksss!!!what the #@$% has happened! How did it happen? What is going to happen now? What am I going to do?", when all these things were screeching in my head, My best friend(the ocean in my eyes, gladly came to the rescue) :P, Yes! I cried.. (Ok, before you make any assumption, just 2 drops fell out of my eyes only 2 drops, just to add a dramatic effect there :)) Then I reconciled & asked the TT to get me a ticket( all those lovely dreams of enjoying my "luxury" trip had faded away by now) and I was back to myself. I requested him to give me a Sleeper ticket but due to the festival rush, the sleeper had huge waiting lists. He was such a wonderful human being that I had no words to express my gratitude! He checked the list and asked me to go and sit in a berth(assigned to the TT) in 3rd AC, He said he will come and let me know where he can place me after an hour. I was relieved :) as if I had just been saved from falling into a cliff :) I collected my luggage & went & sat there. The next 3 hours, he couldn't assign me anything.

Finally at 9:30 PM he found 3 berths empty in the 3rd AC coach, which he offered. "3rd AC, Pavs!! Do you have that much money right now to buy the 3rd AC ticket???" ringed in my head.
"How much is it going to cost me?", I asked him. He did some calculation, reduced my fine too, :) and told me "981!". I smiled! I removed all the cash I had in my wallet & including the change, I had Rs.1070. :) I immediately bought the ticket; he returned Rs120 & asked me to keep that amount JIC. I was dumbstruck! I thanked him, moved to the berth, settled my luggage & climbed up. I thanked god, called my family and friends who were waiting desperately to get an update on the situation.
Alas! I could go to sleep now & as I lay there & ran my thoughts over the incident, I realized one thing, that the world is still humane & there are honest and lovely people left who believe in helping the needy than warming up their pockets. May god bless that man!