I know I got it tattooed on my arms “Going wherever the wind takes me” but IRCTC plays pretty havoc with ‘going wherever’ doesn’t it. How can we go anywhere unless we plan months in advance for a reserved train ticket and can’t afford to fly. We say the world is so connected today, but traveling anywhere even within India is still so costly and time consuming. Our super fast trains are pathetically slow compared to world standards. Our flights are cheap and plenty but they only connect cities of political or economic importance. I remember when my grandmother expired, we realized that merely traveling from Delhi to Jalpaiguri was such a difficult task even by flight. There was no direct flight , the flight via kolkata had a stop over of over 10 hours. No matter what mode we tried there was no way we could have reached until at least 24 hours of the news. We couldn’t bid farewell to her last remains, we only reached a day later for the rituals.
One only has to look up the train listings and schedules and see how little train connectivity is there between the metro cities and smaller cities. I try to look up all kinds of lesser known places and am always getting the result, “there is no direct train between those stations”
Take my case today, until 9 pm this evening I would not know if they are going to call me for the Mphil/Phd written test in TISS campus, Mumbai on 10th Feb. I haven’t done my tickets and if they call, I would have to either take a flight or pay a Premium Tatkal with surge pricing meaning a 3k Rajdhani Ticket. Other alternative was to book a ticket in anticipation, and lose money in canceling it in case you don’t get a call. How does this system work out for the economically marginalized class I wonder. Oh I know, if you are poor you travel in crowded general compartment, with no place to even sit, and if you are a woman you get groped and pinched.
If I don’t get a call, then I plan to go to Belgaum in Karnataka for the Yellemma Temple festival. Again, I have no tickets for it and I am sure I cannot find a reservation at such a short notice. I guess my solution will be to carry nothing but a sleeping bag and travel without reservation. I bet no woman has done it before, but I will. Not because I am very brave but because i have no money to fly.