Monday, March 3, 2008

Train Tickets in India

We now had to move on to Rishikesh from Varanasi. Originally I was bummed we were not going to have very long in Varanasi but it was enough... we can easily leave this intensity, cool as it is...


We had bought half of our train tix in advance, which is a really good idea IF you know you are going to be where you want to go when you go...but if you hang out or want to be impulsive, its hard to do. We canceled many of the tickets on account of these whims. Now we risked if we could get a ticket to Rishikesh from Delhi where we were flying into from Varansi. I could get a ticket on-line easy enough from our irctc account, but because I didn't know if we could make the connection to the night train to Rishikesh, we had to leave it to fate. But, we sure didn't want to spend the night in Delhi, not to just spend the night to catch an early morning train, so we hauled ass to the train station from the airport... to the old Delhi train station, not the NEW Delhi train station and that's not a real swingin' place at any time...and to arrive with no ticket in hand with 40 minutes to catch a train?


We jump out of a cab and grab two porters...of course these two porters do not speak more than 3 words of English and I think they are possibly Nepalese guys and don't speak any language anyone understands. They are much like Mutt and Jeff and whereas our first porter/savior created miracles, these two didn't seem to know much around there nor did they get many answers from anyone. With our two huge bags on their heads, we rushed up to some window and the guy told us we had to go to some "vindow 208...."
"Okay come on guys...comecomecome"
I wait in line at window 208 and when I say "in line"...well it doesn't really apply. It a funnel. They should say go wait in the funnel.

India has dealt with a huge population for centuries. Its amazing it all works. In traffic or in a line, it's like a puzzle whereas any available space gets filled...and if you leave half a foot of space in front of you, someone is going to fill it without a thought.
You should see what happens at stoplights...everyone shuffles and squeezes unntil there is not an inch of space between cars go the motors. They don't want to wear them out? Burn extra fuel?

Anyway, finally, window 208...and the guy says nods "you cannot buy this ticket here, only general class, you muzgo to vindow 135".
Oh for fucks sake....
"Come, come guys...we go, we go... vindow 135" and they look puzzled but off we all go to the other building...
Here is another funnel at window 135 and when I get to the front he says; you muzgo tu vindow 208, yu cannot buy this ticket here"
"wha?...listen, I just came from dow 208!"
"Iamsahrry youmuzgo vindow 208"
Then like a comedy in fast motion, our whole procession goes back and I funnel back up there for of course the guy to say "I told you sir, youmuzgo tu vindow 135 it is impossible to buy here that ticket here only general class"
I don't budge and raise my voice one level. "I was just there and they told me to come here, that they also only sell general class, we are tired, I am not sitting up overnight I nned sleep and somewhere in this station someone can sell us the ticket we want, someone, somewhere sells this ticket I need need to know where"
"You must come in and talk to me" and motions me to go around the building to a back door.
And of course, there is no back door to be found and I go back seeing red...and...of course.... the funnel line has engulfed the window for me to ask again.

And by now...since I had raised my voice...Indians seem to love controversy and everyone gets involved...a small crowd starts to form with one guy telling us; "it is impossible for you to buy a government ticket...never will you get this ticket from them...for 30 rupees I will take you to a travel agency outside and you can get the ticket"
"Really...30 rupees? Just out here? lets go..."...and he proceeds to flag a cab. ??!
"No way man, I am not going anywhere over 100 yards from here... get lost"
And now speaks a taxi driver saying we must take the morning train now and he knows a good hotel close by and another guy saying he can get the ticket and that other guy repeating 30 rupees just over here and everyone talking at once raising their voices above each others, while our Mutt and Jeff look confused and must want to know what's happening....
" QUIET...." I blurt out and calmly and slowly say "everyone just shut up... stand right there and don't move.... while I go right over here to this other VINdow and ask one more question" At this point I am so determined to get this ticket and I go back to the window and calmly and slowly ask "if I buy a general you think I can talk to the train conductor on the platform about an upgrade to a sleeper?"
"But off coursezir, thisiswhat youmuz do"
Why....don't...they say it in the first place...I mean you have to be so clear here.
I want to strangle him but now its like hyper speed...and we grab those two tickets and scream to the platform with Mutt and Jeff running behind.

and there is the train platform guy right there and he sells us a FIRST Class upgrade and Mutt and Jeff take us to the berths and ...
WeAreInAndBeatThemSonof A Bitch and are practically dancin' in the aisle because.....
we know the alternative would have been that we would have had to spend the night somewhere by the New station across town, go to the station in the morning and face the very same thing (although I have since learned they have a great tourist desk upstairs that the old station seems to be devoid of) and maybe...we would never leave Delhi....ever.

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