Booking train tickets has always been a ritual associated with long hours of waiting at paan-spit covered railway stations and some gutsy tussles and struggles.
A few days back, when I sat down to book tickets for the Konark Express, online, in style, i filled long registration forms that asked me about everything I thought I knew and they knew. After filling a few such forms, my attempts met their unworthy end at 'Cannot Find Server'.
I tried again, and this time, I reached the end. Almost. When I told them I would de(is)credit myself using a certain credit card, they promptly approved of my decision by saying 'Opening &&^*(&^%^&U&*. And then, the screen ended with a 'done', on a whitescreen as white as the mogra in Umrao Jaan's tresses.
With 3 seats on the train still up for sale, I went to Andheri station like my pants were on fire. I took the pink form and filled it up with a pen purchased from outside the station and then stood in a queue. The person taking care of this snake was off on a chai break 30 minutes before his duty ended. The line did proceed, with the velocity of a thousand page tome on boredom. 10 minutes before they were due to close, i.e. at 8, a kind officer announced that only two other queues would continue functioning post 8 pm. Not being very good at the art of pre-empting stampedes, I landed up at the back of one of these lines. Then the guy at this counter went for his chai.
He came back and slowly and slowly I reached the head of the line. I shoved my pink slip at him, tried to flutter my eyelashes (that are not very long and are quite prone to falling off, considering that I get ample opportunities to make wishes with one of them on my knuckle) and ask him for AC tickets, but he only had to say - AC sab khatam hain. Not wanting to lose the precious seat on the train, I settled for a 3 day adventure in the sleeper class compartment.
So that is how I spent an otherwise enjoyable Thursday evening, in a heady (as in .....headache giving) race for railing...