18th July 2009, Mumbai
It was 7:30 am in the clock and suddenly my alarm blew up. No, I don't wake up so early; it was just to make necessary preparations as I had to book my train ticket to Kota for 16th October 2009 and e-ticketing starts at 8:00 in the morning.
Now you must be thinking, why I wanted to book my ticket 3 months before the journey date?
The answer must be known to most of you but for those who are not frequent travelers let me tell you, in India we are allowed to plan our journeys well before time because if you are planning a trip few hours or even few days before the scheduled departure of the train then either you have to be very lucky, if not then you should be a VIP or you should have some good contacts in railways to get a confirm ticket, else you should be mentally prepared to take seat next to any beggar who has freedom to board any train without ticket.
Now I was waiting for my watch to show 8:00, well prepared with my laptop and internet connection to book my ticket. As soon as my watch clocked 8:00 I started with the booking procedure, trying to load the railways' official e-ticketing website but all in vein. I tried this for another 10 minutes and fortunately I was successful in reaching the final booking page, I first looked for availability in the train which suits my office hours just to find that wait list has already begun and no more confirm tickets are available.
I then started looking for reservation in other trains as well but could not locate a confirm ticket so finally I purchased a wait list ticket in frustration, which I knew is not going to confirm till the journey date and will automatically get cancelled since it is an e-ticket.
This is not the first time it has happened to me; the story was same last year also when I had to finally travel by road which took me twice the time to reach home and mind you I am not the only one who face this situation, all my friends goes through the same trauma of booking tickets for festivals and coincidently none of us gets confirm ticket.
Why do we need to book our tickets well in advance and why despite trying 90 days before the journey date we don’t get a confirm ticket?
Why within the first 10 minutes of opening window all tickets are booked and we don’t even get the glimpse of available tickets?
Who is booking all these tickets? Is there an involvement of agents in the railways, who buy all tickets in advance? If this is not the case and the reason is our huge population, then why our government does not introduce special trains during festivals? Even if they do, by the time we come to know about it, confirm ticket becomes history.
This is the problem which most of us would have faced at some point of time or other but we don’t complain because we have developed the habit of adjustment.