Comedy of Errors!
by Poochi Venkat
If things had worked out the way I wanted, at this time I should be thundering along in GT somewhere near ongole enroute to BZA, enjoying hot rotis and subzi from the pantry car!
But that was not to be... :-(
Thanks to my ultra-stupid travel agent who booked my GT ticket...for the wrong date...
Having reached MAS at 3.50pm, with my gargantuan rucksack (bigger and heavier than even me) plus my overnighter, I packed some idlys from Planet Yumm for the evening. Dashing to platform #5, I found a lot of passengers hanging about: the rake had not yet come in. Neither had my travel agent (who had the tickets).
Depositing the luggage with my chap who had accompanied me from office, I wandered around a bit and spied new-livery AJJ WAM4 20508 ready to haul MAS-GDR passenger (this loco has been newly painted in Sapthagiri livery). Just then, a WDS4 noisily brought in the GT rake: all AC coaches (except 1st AC) were spanking new from SR! manufactured in 2002. I busied myself locating AS2.
Ah! There it was, all nice and clean...myself and my office chap heaved the luggage up and beelined to seat no.39, a comfortable side-lower berth on the trackside....grrreat! with that large window all to myself, I could do as much observation as possible. But Fate had more interesting plans for me!
My travel agent finally appeared with all the tickets in a white cover and handed it to me furtively as if it contained valuable state secrets. Asking him to wait a bit, I stepped out of the now-rapidly-filling coach for a magazine and water bottle.
Returning to my seat, I found a pretty girl seated opposite (no. 40) looking a bit worn out....well...well...so she was my travel companion?? ah...railfanning and romance - a heavenly combination...as my mind soared on expectant dreams, a quiet voice broke in, "excuse me but our seat numbers are 39 and 40. so...could you check your ticket please?" Huh...who's this? It turned out that "this" was that pretty girl's escort and he was asking to check my ticket...only now did a teeny doubt form itself in my brain that something was amiss...
I stammered, "but...my seat is 39 too. wait a minute...i'll check...". Tearing open that white cover I glanced at the GT ticket and was embarrased to find the date of journey was 10th!!! If looks could kill, my travel agent would've died a thousand times the way I looked at him ;-)
Well, I had to cover up the faux pas so I pretended to rush outside ro check the chart and came back convincingly breathless. "Sorry, my seat's in the other coach...". Smiles all around...a bit sad to leave that girl...but what to do?
Lugging my bags all over again, I rushed to the reservation counter at Moore Market Complex (MMC) with travel agent and office chap in tow. That poor agent was blubbering apologies by the dozen but no way was I doing any business with him in future!! Lines at the counters didn't seem to be moving even after fifteen minutes so we caught an autorikshaw to Besant Nagar (where i stay) and hot-footed to the reservation counters there.
A brief wait later, I managed to get a ticket (as of now, wait-listed) in 6595 directly to JBP. Then it was back home for a well-earned rest (?) until tomorrow afternoon!