Sunday, April 28, 2019

When Harassment by Private Bus Staff Goes Viral Government Takes Action; But What if it is by Railway Staff?

Yesterday (29-04-2019) night me and my wife failed to get a good sleep. 

Reason: my newly married son with his wife was travelling back to their work place in Bangalore in train no.16319 'Band Humsafar Express' from Trivandrum Kochuveli Railway station to Bangalore Whitefield Railway station in  3AC coach B1 and they were being harassed by the TTE in their coach B1. He was asking for a fine of Rs.4000 or a bribe of half that because my son and his wife did the gravest mistake of boarding the train from a station not shown as the boarding station! 

To his bad luck, my son never carried much cash in his purse- he is from the new gen who believed the words of the Indian PM in letter and spirit. He likes doing all money transactions online using those Apps and cards! And the TTE had no facility to accept that either in black or white!

They had a valid and confirmed 3AC ticket reserved online (PNR-4503960607). Their ticket was from Kochuveli to Whitefield. Boarding was indicated from Chengannur, the station nearest to our home at Elanthoor and about 100 km north of Kochuveli.

In fact, I had made their return travel booking online using GoIbibo mobile app. We live in Elanthoor and the nearest railway station is Chengannur. My son's wife is from Trivandrum and Kochuveli is the nearest station from her house.

To be very frank, it was very difficult for us to confirm which station would be convenient for them to board the train because of this. During their stay in Kerala, they could be either in Trivandrum or at Elanthoor. If they are at Trivandrum, Kochuveli station is the best for boarding. If they happen to be at Elanthoor, Chengannur station is the best for boarding.

If I take the ticket booking from Chengannur to Whitefield and if they happen to be at Kochuveli, their travel practically becomes ticketless in the Kochuveli-Chengannur section. So I took the ticket from Kochuveli to Whitefield and gave the boarding from Chengannur. Going from my past memories, the railway people never made any issue for such an arrangement. And in the present days of online booking, I never ever happen to notice a facility for changing the boarding point later in any of the online Apps or the irctc website.

A day before their stay in Kerala, it was confirmed that they would be in Trivandrum and Kochuveli is their preferred boarding point. In a way that was convenient as it was the trains starting station.

My son was more informed than me and from Trivandrum he called me to make a change in their boarding station as it was me who did their ticket booking. First I tried to reason with my old man's logic in not doing so firstly because I did not know how to do it and secondly due to the user unfriendliness of the irctc site. Yet reluctantly I made an effort only to be informed that this kind of changes cannot be done if the time is less than 24 hours. I did not understand this logic of the Indian railways! And to be honest, one can never find full logic in several of the Indian rules and regulations!

I tried to reason with my son and tried to enhance his courage to travel with the online ticket that he had already passed on from my side. After all apparently they are not doing anything illegal as per our logic. We had paid the travel cost from Kochuveli to Whitefield and also all the other fees for reservation. The railways as a service provider did not charge any thing for change of boarding point. So we never imagined that this particular thing would be a point for a railway employee to harass the travelers travelling with ticket and reservation!

And that is where we made the grave mistake! The Indian government employees have this great talent of finding the minutest deviations in the rule books if it gives them an edge in making some quick money, both for their employer and for themselves!

To the bad luck of my son and his wife, the TTE did exactly that. He kept harassing them and in turn my son calling me for advise. Me and my wife lost our sleep in turn.

I advised my son to pay whatever the TTE is asking as penalty. My son informed that the TTE is asking to pay a fine of Rs.4000/- (incidentally the total fare from Trivandrum to Whitefield for the two of them in 3AC is only about Rs.3000/-) and he did not have the cash. Then he informed that the TTE agreed for a compromise of agreeing with half that if the money paid is without a receipt.

Dear reader, I felt so helpless and equally harassed as my son who was in the train in the night. My blood pressure went high and also of my wife. I felt this as a bigger harassment than the recent incident that happened to some young men in a  Bangalore bound private bus from Kerala  in one of the luxury buses operated by one Kallada Suresh!

There the physical misbehavior done by the bus staff to a few travelers got viral in the social media and the state government initiated actions against the erring staff and the bus operator.

But here, the harassment is being done by a central government employee with much powers delegated to him by the railway administration of India. They make rules and regulations to their advantage and hardly ever consider that they are also doing a transport service. The travelers in this case is availing a concession from the Indian government facility. What they say is the law of the land!

There is no way for the common man to know because of the arbitrariness of the Indian railway rules. What is the solution if a TTE is doing highhandedness like this to harass passengers quoting illogical rules supposedly existing to his support as made by his superiors?

To our great relief, by this time the train reached Chengannur and the TTE realizing that these people are not going to make any cash payments turned the plates. He allowed them to travel in accordance with their reservation.

My humble submission to the Railways is only this (if at all there exist anyone to hear and do the needful):

1. Consider Kerala as a metro area and allow outbound travelers from Kerala to cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi etc to board from any convenient station of their choice where the train has a stop, provided the ticket charges cover that station also.
2. Consider the full length of the ticket as reserved regardless of the boarding point.
3. Provide adequate training to the TTE to be logical in their approach with genuine reserved passengers and not to harass them to the extent that they are scared of Indian railways for life!
4. Do not make illogical rules, if they exist remove them and make it known to the travelling public.
5. Make the online reservation system logical and more user friendly. (For example: Why this irritating captcha always?)
6. Make arrangements to TTEs to accept payments for penalty, charge differences etc through approved online payment apps. Discourage all kinds of cash transactions in the train. This will help passengers to travel with less cash and more safely. It might also check TTEs accepting bribes!

I do not say the railway keep taking actions against the passenger unfriendly TTEs or staff always. But when they go irrational, it reflects on the railways and also on the government. If the railway superiors realize that well and good. 

If not what we can do? Nothing. After all Indian railway is part of the Indian government and government in India has not yet grown to serve the people. Many in it think they are masters of the public.

If the Indian railway take any positive action from this citizen feedback, we can consider that as real positive act towards good governance!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

How to Get Items You Need from Amazon India by Ordering Online?

For some people, shopping is a time pass. They love going to malls and shops not only for buying things that they need, but also for some time pass. For example searching for good books in a bookstall like this is a hobby for many!

But for many others like me, shopping is not so thrilling and it really is a pain. Going to the shop or mall by your two wheeler or four wheeler in the crowded roads and lanes with all that traffic jams is not at all some thing enjoyable.

Finding a parking lot and walking to and from it are all pains. It definitely take time and much effort. And when your professional work is too demanding, how to get the time slot for all these routine buying?

Online ordering and getting all those things you need delivered at the comfort of your home or office is the trend now-a-days and it is getting more and more acceptable in India too. It may not be for the rural India yet, but for those areas that are well connected and urbanized, the trend is on the rise.

But even for those who are quite familiar with online market places like Amazon, there are often situations where you forget to get things you need and order it in time. You are pre-occupied with many things!

This happens with me too. I keep thinking of buying some thing and when I take my mobile phone I get pre-occupied in Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to such an extent I forget to open and search my Amazon App!


And even when I manage to remember and open my Amazon app, I forget the key search words and my buying get delayed or postponed!


In reality you can get any thing! Only thing you need to know is the key word to search and find. When you remember the key word, it is quite easy and you can search the Amazon online market place and know much about the item including its price and rebates. 

Without much efforts you can keep studying about the products and order it when you are fully satisfied.

Amazon online buying is best suited for city residents because in the cities their delivery services are much more efficient. In many urban areas including urbanized Kerala, Amazon now has cash on delivery (COD) facility and you need not worry much if your ordered item with prepayment got delayed or missed in transit and the follow up you have to do to get it back.

So in case you forget something to purchase online, you can use the  Amazon India online market search facility given above. It is very easy and simple.

You can scroll the list and find trending books and order what you liked. You can type the name of the the thing you want in the search box and click 'Go' to get to know more and order. It is very easy. You keep clicking and playing with it, and you start learning more and more every day!

If your mobile phone has enough space for installing apps, you can download and install the Amazon India App for the same purpose.