The little box at Rail Bhavan

V Ravi Shankar

THANK you, Indian Railways! It was May 28 this year, I had been detailed to attend a meeting in New Delhi at a very short notice. Having been brought up on a culture of “speaking” to somebody for any and everything, I was apprehensive when I did not get the reserved ticket. I was travelling from Hardwar to New Delhi. Since my unit operated the Passenger Reservation System (PRS), while proceeding, I ‘spoke’ to the operator, who in turn ‘spoke’ to the person concerned at Hardwar and confirmed the ticket.

The meeting over, I realised I had to return! It was a problem once I reached Delhi. There was not a single person I knew on my return journey and I had to reach the duty station on a Monday morning. My days of “knowing” the right persons had long been over (I had been posted to Delhi once, where I prided myself at “knowing” someone who could help).

That’s when someone told me about the Head Office (HO) quota. It is a small box kept outside the Rail Bhavan, where the CISF guard is posted. I was told it is religiously taken out and screened. Anyone who feels that it is impossible to get a confirmed ticket, makes a fervent plea, vide this little box. Invariably, the quota is allotted.

I had a hearty laugh. Maybe it is akin to “presidential pardon”, I thought! How can — in a country where for everything you need to “know”/speak to the right person — a simple application suffice? What the hell! I thought of giving it a try. As it is, my ticket was waitlisted at No. 9 on AC-1, and I knew it stood little chance of confirmation.

With great trepidation, I wrote out the application, and as luck would have it, I reached late that day. The box had already been taken out. My train was the day after. The next day, like a drowning man would clutch at a straw, I went and dropped it first thing in the morning.

Thereafter, on the hour, every hour, I kept checking the Internet. The ticket gradually came down from nine to four, to finally steady at two. When I had given up all hope, just before the chart was to be prepared, imagine my joy when I saw “HO, CNF” against my PNR status.

I was beyond myself with glee and would recommend the little “box” to anyone in Delhi who feels that his ticket needs to be confirmed. No talking, no pleading…just a simple application with a xerox of the ticket into the little box should take care of it. Thank you, Indian Railways! You are great.

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