July 10, 2012. The much awaited day of thousands of railway passengers in the country who have been mortally scared of an unexpected trip to any part of the country, courtesy the complete impossibility of getting railway tickets. Of course there has always been a tatkal, but the immediacy of the service seems to be oriented towards disappointing the passengers rather than sorting their travel issues out. July 10 is the date when several new norms and reforms come into force. But, how effective are these reforms? Runjhun narrates her firsthand experience with IRCTC on the D-Day.
Any of us who has ever, ever tried to book a tatkal through the fabled IRCTC website have learnt how virtuous patience can be and how limits of frustration can be redefined everytime you thought that this was the pinnacle. The never ending wait for the page to open, the heartbreaking disappointment when after eons, the site does oblige and open but the available seats are long gone, the silent tears that sting your eyes when the site refused to budge or simply logged you out just when your transaction was about to be completed for the last remaining seat and the seering, unexplainable pain of disappointment when IRCTC happily credited the money from your account and then stubbornly refused to show the booked ticket page. The emotions that torment one’s soul when despite paying, you never get that elusive ticket are the stuff for poignant tales of sorrow and misery.
Of course IRCTC does return your money, they are no thieves. But for people who had desperately needed that ticket, the money becomes insignificant.
I am not even discussing what all transpires at the ticket booking windows. Perfectly sensible, decent gentlemen and ladies channel their barbaric ancestors, as they push, shove, pinch and punch to get ahead in the queue for tatkal. Civilized behavior is completely banished, manners and education be damned. All is fair in love and war and of course tatkal.
If tatkal were a God, blessings would have fallen in heaps at the devoted crowd that throngs outside the booking counters right from the preceding night, in a single minded pursuit of securing that tatkal ticket. But tatkal is no God and hence, blessings are few and far between with rest of resilient individuals left to fight another battle for yet another day. What a potent illustration of Karma theory at work! We toil and strive, for it is in our hands, but fruits of labor are in God’s..err..railway’s hands.
July 10, 2012 was about to change it all and we were willing to forgive and forget every other such date when we had high hopes but…
So, 10′o claock, 10 July, 2012, I sat before the IRCTC website, with a hope that for once the pages WILL open. And oh Mercy! How It did!
But then, then I realized, it wasn’t 10 yet. And just as the clock struck 10, everything in my idyllic world of tatkal dreams fell apart-slowly and surely. The pages did not open. My IRCTC login page was stuck for so long that I practically memorized every blinking icon and then finally decided to save it for eternity as a screenshot.
When the pages did open, the transaction refused to proceed. And when transaction proceeded, the tickets had already gone into waiting. Within 25 minutes (that seemed to have stretched for proverbial eternity), my world had changed from 175 available seats to a ticket that showed CKWL 8.
So much for tatkal improvements!
( The measures are in place and going by the reports, the things were slightly smoother at the windows. Our only apprehension being for how long? Besides, IRCTC is supposed to be a parallel mechanism intended to provided convenient booking options to the passengers. There is actually no justification for the website to disappoint this severely especially at the crucial tatkal booking time slots. There are proposals and promises of an improved server and better handling capacity for the website and we can only hope that things will actually improve. But, as the things stand today, reforms or no reforms, tatkal booking through IRCTC continues to be as harrowing as it ever were. May be more.)