Titbits from my Archives: A reservation fit for the record books

Shri Fakhruddin Takulla, resident of Bombay, shocked the reservation clerk on duty at Western Railway's reservation office some time in 1973 when he approached him to book an AC Chair Car ticket to travel from Bombay Central to New Delhi by the Rajdhani Express 27 years later in January, 2000! Such bookings were then allowed under Railway Board's experimental scheme to permit would-be passengers to book their reservations in all trains without any time cap. Initially the clerk was reluctant for he had no calendar for 2000 to know whether the train would run on the specified date 27 years later for the Rajdhani then (in 1973) used to run only thrice a week. Further it was also too much of an 'unnecessary' hassle for the clerk to keep records, etc., safely for the next millennium. But the enterprising Shri Takulla would not give up as he produced a manual calendar, which he had drawn up himself, to let the clerk know the exact day and date of date of his journey! Finally, thus, he got his precious ticket for Rs 120/-.

Later Shri Takulla indeed took the journey to New Delhi by the Rajdhani Express to arrive there well in time to see the Golden Jubilee Republic Day celebrations in January 2000. He was grateful to Allah for keeping him alive to see the destined day 27 years later.

Indian Railways played the good Samaritan for they exchanged his ticket gratis for AC 3-tier class as by 2000 the AC Chair Car class had vanished from the Rajdhani. They also gave him a VIP treatment by deputing a railway official to receive him at New Delhi station on arrival and arranged for his lodging in New Delhi at a railway guesthouse for 8 days, and also arranged for his return journey at no cost to him. Shri Takulla was also given a place in the VIP gallery to watch the Republic Day celebrations. 'We felt that a person who could think of doing this 27 years ago obviously had tremendous faith in the reliability of the Indian railway network and we felt that we needed to acknowledge that and respond to it adequately,' said Shri Shanti Narain, member of the Railway Board.

I wonder where his 'invaluable' ticket is, for it would be a collector's item now. Here again I think the Indian Railways missed a chance to get this most unusual travel and their hospitality recorded in the famous Guinness Book of Records!

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