Friday, September 22, 2006

Pass the Roti

Ah, there's nothing better than a refreshing dose of bureaucracy. Today I decided to plan my travels outside of Madurai, to go visit my friends in Ooty, and to go to Hyderabad over my fall break. I started by looking at the newspaper to see which airlines were advertising the lowest rates. AirDeccan was advertising a rate from Hyderabad to Chennai for 74 Rupees, or about $1.85 plus taxes and fees. I went to their website to no avail, I tried every search possible and this fare did not exist. The actual rates were 700 Rupees, from Hyderabad to Chennai and 1500 from Chennai to Hyderabad. A round trip ticket costing about 5000 rupees with taxes and surcharges. This is ridiculous compared to train fares, so I decided to try booking train tickets online. The train ticket booking online doesn't allow for round trip tickets, and each leg had to be booked individually, with a service charge for using the internet booking facility. Because I had 6 separate journeys, I decided to give up and go to the railway reservation office, and despite having to fill out a separate form for each leg, I would probably get it done in better time. I also had received my ATM card from the State Bank of India, with a notification to obtain my pin by going to the branch office. I went to the bank to do this, and was informed by the security guard that I had to speak with the bank manager. Then he asked when I received the card, and I told him yesterday. He then informed me that the pin would not be available until Monday. I must come back then. I asked if I could speak with the bank manager anyway, and he said no, come back Monday.
No problem.
So then I had to wait in a 5 or 6 person line to withdraw cash from the bank without an ATM card, when woman carrying two two thousand rupee notes decided to cut to the front of the line, as if having large denominations of cash gave her that right. Even the man behind the counter yelled at her. He still took her in front of 4 other waiting people. After receiving my cash, I went to the railway reservation office, filled out 6 individual sheets for reservation requests with mostly redundant information. The only thing that changed was the date, and name and number of the train. Otherwise, I wrote the Class, number of berths, my full name, age, sex, berth preference, full address, telephone number, date and signature 6 times. But for 270 rupees I am going to Ooty to visit my friends for a weekend, and for another 850 rupees I am going to Chennai and Hyderabad for my break.
I know it will all be worth it in the end. On top of which I will have contributed to the archives of the Indian railway, which some future graduate student will surely study. If it doesn't all burn down. I mean, I think that amount of paper all held in one place has a natural tendency to spontaneously ignite.

On another note, my friend Vivek, and several of his friends have a blog about Indian politics and current events which is very informative. It can be found at

1 comment:

Edith said...

hey baby doll. thank god for you. i miss that wit, and that perspective.