Tennis in Athens and trains in India

My morning trawl of the my email, I.T. Websites, the news and some sport does take me to some strange places, for example today, we discover that the runner up in the men’s Olympic tennis (Mardy Fish) was pronounced “the best two-year-old tennis player in the world” by a Minneapolis TV station in 1984.

A more interesting story comes from the bowels of the BBC News Website, with once of those correspondent type articles about Queues in India. This reminds me quite a lot about our trip to India last year, which at the time scared us quite a lot, but with time I am beginning to remember fondly some of the more amusing cultural points.

We didn’t actually have to queue much during our visit, but we did visit the main ticket office for the trains in Delhi.

One part of our trip was going to be from Delhi to Mussoorie, via the wonderful national transportation network that is the train system in India. Now India is moving with the times, and from the year before where our friends had gone out to live until our visit, the online booking system had been introduced.

Now the online reservation system turned out not to be all it was cracked up to be, the first indication of this came when the web site said you could only book tickets between 8am and 10pm at night. It all became clear however when we arrived to pickup the tickets.

As far as I could tell, this is how the Indian Railway online reservation system works;

  • You go online, find your train number (believe me this isn’t as easy as it sounds, you can’t just search for a train)
  • You pick your ticket type and submit all the details.
  • At the Indian end of the operation, something comes up on the screen, and a little man (they are almost always men, and quite small), writes down your booking in a ledger
  • Now we are in the Indian system
  • When you arrive in India, you have to report to the ticket office and collect your tickets.
  • In the ticket office you hand over your printout from the webpage and your passport to the man on the counter (hitherto known as “the boss man”)
  • The boss man, looks up your name in the ledger, writes down your details on a piece of paper and passes them to man no2
  • Man No2 goes out the back and gives your information to the computer wiz.
  • The computer wiz, enters your details onto a computer and prints out your ticket, and gives it to man no2
  • Man No2 passes the ticket to the boss man,
  • The boss man, takes your money and crosses out your name from the ledger, and gives you the tickets

Of course this didn’t work for us, because we where travelling in October around the time of Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi’s birthday), we didn’t actually get a ticket but on a waiting list, the long and short of it is that we went through all this only to get on the waiting list for a train, which in the end we didn’t get on and instead we took a taxi, to Mussoorie, which was a very interesting journey.

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