Lessons learnt on an Indian train



The latest train journey to Patna was a huge learning experience for me. I trust this post will be one for you as well.

With the sudden death of my uncle I decided to go and be with the extended family for a day. I booked a ticket online on Rajdhani a comfortable A.C train from Delhi to Patna.  I was waitlisted on no. 10, but I was hopeful. After all, there was still a day to go—with a few last minute cancellations I could get a confirmed seat.

Just before departure I was still on no. 1

I dashed off to board the train, hoping that I would pay the extra charges on the train and get myself to Patna. I knew that was a possibility as I had done it years ago with the Ticket Collector (TC) who had cut a receipt and given me a confirmed berth.

But this was different. I hadn’t realized that if you’re booked online and you’re on the waitlist, the ticket automatically cancels. I had erred and I was in a fix; technically I was travelling without a ticket.  I learnt a lesson about online train ticket booking.

I spoke to the TC on the train and offered to buy a fresh ticket and pay the extra charges. He gave me a berth to sit and said he would come back later.

I waited and waited. He came a couple of hours later and said I needed to pay an amount of Rs 5400/-. That was huge. The ticket costed only Rs 1500/-. This was way beyond what I had imagined and way beyond what I had in my pocket.

He then asked me to pay whatever I had with me—an opportunity for him to make a quick buck. I refused. It’s my conviction not to bribe. I said I’d pay the full amount at the next station with an ATM on the platform, Kanpur. He was not pleased. He was clearly losing his opportunity. He gave me three options: pay the Rs 5400/- now, pay him a good amount, or just get down at Kanpur.

I got down.

I found myself stranded in Kanpur – I braced myself to travel in a crowded, dirty, unreserved compartment and bought a second-class general ticket.

A train heading to Patna arrived. This was going to be one difficult night.

Hoping that I would at least get a seat to Patna, I approached a TC on the platform. He looked at his papers and said, ‘Go to B1, berth number 59. I was thrilled—this was a wonderful AC compartment with a pillow, blanket, and sheets. He cut me a fresh ticket and I traveled comfortably to Patna.

Another lesson learnt: when you make a mistake and have options in front of you, stand for what is right and God will honour you. He will make a way for you.

photo credit: Ashok666 via Photopin

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