Actually this post should have been titled “Where should I buy a ticket?” instead of ‘Why’. But since the location is not defined, how can the reason be.
Anyway, my latest angst is over the pathetic situation of Indian Railways which gets worsened every day despite soaring revenues and claims by honourable railway ministers. A few days back, I was returning from Delhi and had a booking in H Nizamuddin – Rajendra Nagar Garib Rath. So, I got down at Patna Jn. and went to the ticket booking counter to get another ticket to home. But when I entered the ticket booking complex, I was for forced to believe that the actual population of India is not around 1.20 billion but actually three times that number. The lines were so long that I was almost sure to miss my train in order to get a ticket. What I couldn’t understand was why more than half of the booking counters were closed. And then as I stood thinking about what to do, a person approached me and offered to buy a ticket after taking 20 rupees as his commission. I refused and got to the end of a line which, as I later found out, was barely moving. The ticket booking clerk was moving his hands as he was learning to type. Moreover, he also didn’t hesitate getting up for sipping tea or even drinking water. And then all of a sudden, I heard the announcement about my train arriving on platform number 2. I went to the booking counter, requested a man buying ticket to get a ticket for me as well explaining him my situation. But again, the booking in charge refused to give another ticket to him despite pleading by me.
As I was moving out of the booking complex, I thought of asking an old man standing at the senior citizen counter to buy a ticket for me again explaining to him what plight I was in. I thought he would be kind and listen to my situation and understand it but to my utter dismay, he was rude and refused me bluntly. And we are taught to respect the aged people and treat them well!! Our social values need to be restructured soon. The young population should be given more credits for its helping tendency, patience and what not.
With the idea of undertaking a bus journey, I moved out of the station. And then, I again thought of talking to the TTE in the train and asking whether he could do something. I went running to the platform 2 and see if the train was still standing there. It was there. I found the TTE and told him the story. And what he told pleased me like anything. He said that he could make an extended ticket even if I had not bought any. And thus, I returned home learning new lessons about life and travelling.
However, this ticket problem is not new with railways. Similar kind of long queues are there for Mumbai Suburban tickets. And I have even witnessed the booking clerk refusing a person refusing him ticket after about half an hour of wait because it 12:30 pm and the clerk got up for lunch. Though railways are the cheapest and best means of transport in the country in many parts but still its condition is degrading every day. Trains are becoming overcrowded, coaches are becoming dirty and the speed is getting lower every day. Something needs to be done urgently so that commuting doesn’t become a pain.
Ms Bannerjee, listening?