Having done with my Bhopal trip, i booked my return ticket in chhattisgarh express for the 3rd of this month.. With a pdf of the actual ticket and the text msg of the same from irctc, i boarded the train..I reached for my seat at B3 08 Side Upper.. But there stood a man there, claiming it to be his. I asserted, its mine. He then took out a random piece of paper scribbled with some illegible handwriting and then with a greater confidence repeated the claim. Taken aback by his authoritative claim based on a random piece of paper, i took out my 5 inch smart phone in full panache and showed him my ticket. I also showed him the text msg.
All fine all good till here. I get myself comfortable seated. He went back and came with 3 of his companions holding a bunch of printed tickets. Out of them he showed one, which looked exactly the replica of my ticket with just the name changed. The date, 3rd.. The train, chattisgarh express.. B3 08 SU.. All same! How is it possible! There is something fishy.Then in a little casual way, we agreed that let the TT decide. I passed a sheepish smile and in my head thought, this man must have printed a photoshopped version of the ticket, damn him..
After some time, the TT arrives. I showed him both versions of my ticket, same did the other man. It somehow surprised the TT too. I suddenly felt, oh wow it could be once in a lifetime experience to have had a chance of a finding a loophole in the Indian Railway Booking system! The TT went for his spectacles and took his seat. He checked a booking list that these guys have. It is like the bible, it has the truth in it.
With an anticipated triumph over the B3 08 SU, i faced a big blow, when the TT read out the name of Ghaneshwar Bagde!Like What? Dude i paid 1000 bucks and i am not a Ghaneshwar Bagde! Is this a joke or what?Then he took a closer look at my ticket which now read everything exactly the same, the train no., train name, my name, my seat everything same, just the date instead of being 03/03/14 it was 03/04/14.April…! Yes.. Anubrato the great booked a ticket on a date which was a month away.. April…! Congrats Mr. Mukherjee, you just celebrated April’s Fool in advance.
So now i was in the outskirts of Bhopal, and technically i was a person travelling ‘without ticket’ on Indian Railways in AC 3 tier, which meant i had the option of either paying the full fare of a AC 3 from the start station to the end one, or get down at the next station. The TT looked at me as if he was mr bacchan in kbc, and kind of asked ‘To bataye, kaunsa option lock kiya jaye’.I asked for a lifeline, which in my case was, getting some time to think.Then thankfully another option struck my head. The option widely used in India. When you want to get a job done and left with no option, Bribe..!
I reached for my wallet and found a neat single 500 rupee note. 500…! A confirmed sleeper ticket must have cost more than that, and i wished to bribe that amount to the TT for a AC 3 berth. Impossible. Option dropped.With no money of course there wasnt any chance to pay a fine and that was also not something that i was looking forward too as the probable figure must have been close to 2000..With a backpack ready i was prepared to get down to the next station, late at night, and whose name too i didn’t know.
Then came a eureka moment.Suppose if somehow i own a general ticket, which would entitle me to atleast travel in that train, i wouldn’t be asked to get down. The AC attendant who was passively watching the whole thing asked me what the problem was about. I told him and also told the idea of getting out of this fiasco with the general ticket option. But how would i get the ticket from the next station i had no idea about?The attendant offered to get me the ticket through his sources, and in return i had to take care of his ‘chai paani’ which meant i had to pay double the amount of the ticket.
Thankfully even after doubling that amount it was under Rs500 and in another 30 mins i was having the ticket. Luckily in some more time i somehow managed to make things right and after talking to another TT i even travelled back home in a AC 3 berth itself. But during this whole situation i was least tensed and just enjoyed the moment. This was the biggest troll of my life and it kept me smiling for the entire journey. I learnt the lesson of being extra careful with the dates and i learnt it the hard way.
But this whole episode of Bhopal tragedy of comedies, will sure bring a smile whenever i think about it.. 🙂