Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The midsummer train tales

Half way through the summer, as the sun scorches and variety of under arm odors gas us, we run in the crowded platform where the piss perfumed compartments await us. Summer- brings with it travels and travails that we wish we could avoid. The platform teems with people, spit pan and banana peels, where the fan pushes in hot air from under the asbestos, baking you into walking human cookies. Yet when you stand near S3 and read the chart running your fingers over 22F and 24F, along with your name, you feel a high that even dope can’t give! You’ve got tickets, in a bay where there are two young girls! That too from Chennai to Mumbai in this peak summer! 24 hours in wheeled heaven!

Getting confirmed tickets in peak summer is by no means an easy task, tougher than scaling the Everest or getting an appreciative nod from the missus! So how do we hit the lottery? How do we get a confirmed ticket in the summer? The art of procuring confirmed berths in summer is perfected by few and a careful study ahem…of these successful people will help you learn the ropes.

You have to be a voracious reader, reading newspapers left to right without missing a single letter every day. You have to keep yourself abreast of every Railway budget. One fine day, your proficiency in Railway rules would earn you a berth, so keep reading. The advance reservation period is so unpredictable like the weather forecast. When you expect that to be increased, they roll it down and when you expect a decline, they increase it to 120 days as of now. It is better to take the help of the parrot astrologer down the street who can tell you if it is 60 or 120 days the moment you decide on your travel.

Once you decide the date and calculate the advance booking date, using all calendars- Gregorian, Grecian and Roman, next comes the task of deciding how you do it and when you start the prep work. The day before opening day, you line up at the reservation office sharp at 8 pm, armed with water bottle and a newspaper. Beware of the hijackers. The moment you close your eyes sitting in the rusting chair, these hijackers move front and back the row, the more you sleep, the farther behind the queue you would be. The best way out would be to shake your legs once in a while when you sleep. Or better still, don’t take a bath two days prior. You will be a sitting mosquito magnet pulling mosquitoes that hover miles away from you. Your swats and turns will ensure no one dares jump the queue.

Don’t worry about the morning when you wake up, while still in the queue. Ensure that you wash your face with the water, not your mouth. You need that special oral perfume to ward off the queue jumpers and your special breath ensures you get the ticket in a fraction of a second from the already fainting counter clerk. Always check if you are seated in the correct queue. There are separate ones for women, senior citizens, representative and self counters. You may even check with analyzing the people in the queue before or behind you- the balding heads, snow white hair and wrinkles mean that you are in the senior citizen queue. The extra bouncy hair, kohl laden eyes and blemish free complexion means you are in the senior citizen…oops…ladies queue. You can be sure you are in the representative queue if you happen to notice ear stud sporting, fair complexioned guys spitting pan all around the place and armed with applications for Navjivan Express, squatting on the chairs.

Leaning and craning your neck, you watch man after man leave the queue with success and you pray your favorite God that you will tonsure your father-in-law’s head if you get a confirmed ticket. Please make sure that he does have a sprinkle of hair, or the God’s wrath may turn on you! By the time your turn arrives, the reluctant clerk will either get a phone call or will get a nature’s call. Thank your lucky stars and open your mouth to say a ‘Good morning’ with a toothy grin. Your breath will ensure he issues your ticket first and then dashes to the restroom to puke out his brains. Awesome! You’ve now got your coveted berth, the counter clerk has even given you change. Congratulations!

Do you intend to get a ticket online on the opening day? Please make tasty vadumangai (dried mango) pickles and send to your second uncle’s fifth cousin in Dallas or Houston when he comes on vacation. A simple missed call will do the trick. When the poor fellow calls you back with saliva dripping from his mouth remembering your wife’s yummy pickle, you draw the net around him. Just tell him you need a ticket on opening day and exactly at 9.00 am Indian time, which makes it midnight for the hapless prey who nods still in a daze. Bait him in, US servers are far quick and should you not capitalize on that? Just add a pinch of sentiment in your chat. Tell him how much you miss him, hallucinate him as Hrithik Roshan with his six pack abs, even if he is filled with a family pack.

If US relatives don’t work, look at single guys in software field. These are easier preys, in twenties and handful of money, they know not what they want. All they know is you have a drool worthy daughter in her teens and whatsapping her the ticket details will be their dream come true. You may or may not repay the card money, who asks money from you anyway? Ensure the lady blocks his number the moment you get the IRCTC SMS to save further trouble. Or if you feel getting online ticket on opening day is the basic qualification for your future son-in-law, just go blind eye. After all, your daughter might get confirmed tickets for her summer travels!