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Breaking : IRCTC introduces lottery system for tatkal tickets

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Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has announced a lottery system for tatkal booking from December 1 this year. Travellers can start applying for tatkal ticket an year before the journey date. 3 hours before the train starts from the originating station, there will be a lucky draw to select the tickets for the tatkal quota. Announcing this at a press conference Mr Bansal said, "The ticket draw will be televised live over Doordarshan. We hope to cross the TRP ratings of IPL with this event". The programme is tentatively titled "Kaun Banega Tatkal Yatri". Mr Bansal further announced that the programme will be hosted by Amitabh Bachchan.

Explaining the rationale behind the decision the minister explained, "Booking tatkal on IRCTC is anyway like a lottery. Why not have some fun with it too?". Many heads nodded in agreement. Bivin George, a software engineer from Bangalore, says "I think we should have cheer girls cheering each time a ticket is picked. After all it's a once in a lifetime experience". Concurring with Bivin, Babhay Prabhakaran added in thick Thrissur accent, "The tickets should be carried and delivered by decked up elephants".

The additional revenue from the gameshow is expected to bring in much relief to the railways who are undergoing a financial crisis. The minister said that the much needed revenue will be promptly used for important things like frontpage ads featuring Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi and the minister himself. TV spots are also being planned.

Andrew Souza, an entirely made up software engineer who is a figment of my imagination explained, "Till now I was forced to book tickets for all my roommates and get beaten up by them when I couldn't. Now I can ask them to book the tickets themselves.". The relieved Mr. Souza has already planned to not plan his journeys 4 months in advance.

Not all is fair and rosy, dissenting voices have risen from the East. Ms. Mamata Bannerjee complained that the UPA had once again stolen an idea from her. She said, "This is all a communist conspiracy. The UPA is implementing policies I had thought of and now trying to take credit for them". Ms. Bannerjee went into a rage and promptly called up her Principal Secretary to arrest some random person on the road and charge him with a defamation suit. This reporter, meanwhile, felt it prudent to leave immediately to prevent a dangerous situation.


ps : err.. in case it's not clear, this is a satirical piece.

Filed under misc
Nov 8, 2012

How to recognise a mallu


The recent imports from our land come into this great city with the expectation that the place would be creeping and crawling with kannadigas. "How laughable that is. Sho thamaasha thamaasha", would say the seasoned veteran. From his many experiences in bakeries and the malayali capital of Forum Mall, the seasoned veteran has come to realise that Bangalore - particularly the region known as Madivala - is in the state of Karnataka just for namesake. The newbie often ends up making mistakes like this -
noob enters bakery
noob : Ondhu chaaya. Ondu puffs maadu beku.
bakery guy stares at noob. Analysis complete, he shouts to his colleague.
bakery guy : Zahire, ഓന് ഒരു puffs-ഉം ചായയും കൊട് .

To avoid such potential pitfalls I hereby bring you the malayali's guide to recognising a malayali. Recognising a malayali is very easy. Like changampuzha once said -
"You can take the malayali out of kerala, but you can't take the kerala out of a malayali".

1. Bakery = malayali
There are 2 kinds of bakeries in Bangalore. One is the "Iyengar Bakery". These are very easy to recognise. They're often called just that. Occasionally they have the full name of its founding father, for eg. Madhu Iyengar Bakery. The Iyengar bakeries are few in number. The majority of the bakeries in Bangalore belong to the "Malayali bakery" category. If you feel like having some puffs, fear not and head to the nearest bakery. Brush up your best malabar malayalam and shoot.

2. Look at the name of the shop
Before you enter a shop read the name. Typical malayali names are often given to these shops. Examples include "Top in Town", "Star", "Royal", "MAS". If you see a shop like this, fret not. Forget your near-non-existent kannada and happily converse in your mother tongue.

3. Check the area you are in
You are in madivala. You enter a shop. Any random shop. There's a 99% chance that it's a malayali shop. Same goes for many other malayali areas like Thippasandra or GM Palaya.

4. Freak Style
Imagine you're inside the Forum Mall. I pause for a moment to give you time to take in the sight. Now see that freak guy over there. Yes, that one. The dark guy with a french beard, coloured/straightened hair, piercings in various parts of the body and an exaggerated swagger. Go there and tell him "Enthokke ondadey vishesham". Chances are he'll tell you "Oh, ingane okke jeevichu ponu aliyaa". 50% of the freaks/yo-yos in Bangalore are malayalis. Rest are chinkies.

5. Coconut Oil plastered hair
His/her hair reminds you of the banana chips your mother used to make. ഒട്ടും പേടിക്കണ്ടാ .. അത് മലയാളിയാ .

6. Watch out for the accent
You find a group of people in a professional setting. The malayali immediately advertises his roots when he opens his mouth to speak in English. Yes, you hash-bush guy - you too. Even your hash-bush English sounds like Malayalam.

7. When it rains
A proper rain is a rare event in Bangalore. Look out in such a situation and you'll find some people with umbrellas and others soaking wet. The ones with the umbrellas have a "ithreye ollo ivdathe mazha" expression. Needless to say they're malayalis.

There are many other traits that you learn to recognise with experience. Too much info, too little space. Share your thoughts - പച്ച തെറി is also welcome


Note : This was originally written for the alumni newsletter of our alma mater, "The xMECian".

Filed under misc
Sep 23, 2012

Changes to tatkal rules

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Some changes have been made to tatkal rules. Tatkal booking will now start only 1 day before journey date. Earlier this was 2 days. For example, if you need to book a tatkal ticket for your journey on Nov 17 you have to book your ticket on Nov 16 and not Nov 15th as it was previously. This was announced by minister Dinesh Trivedi on November 12, 2011.There will be no refund on confirmed tatkal tickets.At the time of booking we are required to provide the details of the identity card we would be carrying at the time of journey. The reservation chart will contain the details of the identity card being carried. You can also book only 4 berths per tatkal ticket as opposed to 6 earlier.

These new rules have been introduced to prevent misuse of tatkal by agents and louts. Whether these will actually prevent misuse remains to be seen. The idea of the ministry is to allow only genuine passengers to book tatkal tickets in case of emergency.

If you have booked a waiting list ticket and are waiting for it to get confirmed (or not) to book a tatkal ticket, then the extra one day will help you. Most of the cancellations happen in the last 2 – 3 days before the journey. Now this will make it easier to decide if we want to book a tatkal ticket or not.

The stricter rules also mean that you need to make sure beforehand which identity card you’ll be carrying with you. Previously, booking an online ticket required the user to give the identity card details at the time of booking the ticket. The Railways amended this rule allowing any one passenger to carry an identity card. No longer was the identity card details required at the time of booking. Now we have a situation where the identity card details are required at the time of booking for Tatkal tickets only.

So take extra care when you book a tatkal ticket from now. Do check if you can get the ticket through the general quota.

Update : As per the latest notification in the IRCTC site -

1. The Advance Reservation Period (ARP) of Tatkal scheme is reduced from two days to one day excluding the day of journey from the train originating station. For example, if train is to depart from the originating station on the second of the month, the Tatkal quota booking for that particular train will open at 08:00 hrs on the first of the month from originating station.

2. For booking Tatkal e-tickets, the passenger shall enter the ID proof type and number, which is to be used for travel. These details will be printed on the ERS/VRM as well as in the reservation chart.

3. During the journey, the passenger, whose identity card number has been indicated on the ticket, will have to produce original proof of identity indicated on the ticket, failing which all the passengers booked on the ticket shall be treated as travelling without ticket and charged accordingly.

4. Maximum of four passengers per PNR can be booked on Tatkal e-tickets.

5. No refund will be granted on cancellation of confirmed Tatkal ticket except in case of circumstance mentioned in para 2 of instructions contained in Commercial Circular no. 53 of 2006 issued vide letter no. 2006/TGI-I/20/P/Tatkal, dated 30.06.2006.

Filed under misc
Nov 15, 2011

Double decker coach introduced by Indian Railways


Indian Railways has introduced an AC double decker coach on the 12383(Up)/12384(Down) Howrah – Dhanbad Express. It was designed ingeniously by Research Development and Standard Organisation and developed by Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. The coach can run on a train with diesel engine.

The fully air-conditioned train will have chair car coaches and will start from Dhanbad at 5 am to arrive at Howrah at 9.15 am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. From Howrah, it will start at 3.20 p.m. on every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and reach Dhanbad at 7.40 p.m.

If the double-decker becomes a hit, Indian Railways will probably release it in other trains as well. The increased carrying capacity could be enormously useful in routes that are crying for more trains such as Bangalore – Kerala route. I believe a lot of passengers will travel in it for the new experience at first and then as they get used to it will appreciate the usefulness as well.

Filed under misc
Oct 3, 2011

Printed tickets not mandatory for tickets booked from IRCTC


Forgot to print the ticket you got from IRCTC? Not a problem, if you have a copy of the ticket in your laptop or mobile. As per the latest IRCTC notification (emphasis added) -

Electronic Reservation Slip (ERS) – The printout in standard specified Performa containing reservation particulars, and instructions for use which can be used by the passenger along with the relevant authorized Identification, as travel authority for performing the journey.

Virtual Reservation Message (VRM) – A screen-shot of the e-ticket displayed through laptops/palmtops/ Mobile phone is referred as Virtual Reservation Message (VRM).

ERS/VRM along with any one of the eight prescribed ID proofs in original and the indication of the passenger(s)’ name(s) in the Reservation Chart will authorize the passenger to travel.

VRM combined with valid photo-id in original will be treated as an instrument on par with the ERS.

ERS/VRM along with one of the eight prescribed proofs of identity in original will also authorize the passenger to enter the platform on the day of journey and he/she will not be required to purchase platform ticket. ERS/VRM along with original id proof will be required to be produced on demand of Ticket Checking Staff on the platform.

– as per https://www.irctc.co.in/VRM.htm

What this means is that you can show a screenshot or pdf of the ticket from IRCTC along with your ID card in original (which you needed to anyway) instead of a printout.

Save paper, save trees. What an idea, sirjee :)

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Sep 2, 2011

Differences between IRCTC and Indian Railway’s new ticketing service

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I had previously mentioned that Indian Railways plans to introduce a new e-ticketing service like IRCTC. Here are some of the differences noted between the two services -

  1. IRCTC is a separate corporation. Its services will likely continue.
  2. IRCTC has separate logins for agents and passengers. The new service will be only for passengers
  3. A maximum of 10 tickets can be booked per month in IRCTC. Initially at least, this limit will be 8 in the new service.
  4. The new service will be hosted out of www.indianrailways.gov.in . The IRCTC website will continue to be at irctc.co.in
  5. Users will have to create fresh login for the new service

More updates as I get more news. Stay tuned :)

Filed under misc
Jul 5, 2011

Indian Railways to bring out new e-ticketing service like IRCTC


Indian Railways is going to bring out a new e-ticketing service like the IRCTC, says Economic Times. The new service is meant only for users and not for agents. IRCTC allows both agents and passengers to book tickets from its site. “irctc login” was the most searched term on Google India in the year 2010. The site is often overloaded and unusable. This is particularly so at 8 a.m. on Fridays and Wednesdays. The huge traffic on the site results in a very slow experience while booking. The payment and booking often fails.

One hopes that the new website would go on to be much better than the IRCTC. Of primary importance would be scalability – it should handle heavy load from it’s users and still provide a reasonably fast experience. Improved user experience would also be welcome. Another site that they own – http://indianrail.gov.in/ – is a brilliant example of how a website should NOT be designed.

Here’s to the Indian Railways wishing them the best in their endeavour. Be tuned for more updates :)

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Jul 5, 2011

IRCTC releases new version of its site

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IRCTC has released a new version of its site. This version of its site had been in beta for a while. The new site is easier to use when planning a journey. Watch out for more details here. The new site gives a very good interface if you're going to plan a journey. The new system is problematic for frequent travellers though. With the introduction of captcha in the quick book page things are harder now. Most of the time it doesn't load at all.
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Sep 10, 2010

IRCTC disabled right click


Many readers of my post on booking tatkal tickets with Firefox's autofill forms extension have reported that IRCTC has now disabled right clicks. Not only does this hamper saving the form, it is also very annoying. I've found a workaround for this. After you fill in the form do not directly go and right click to save the form as a profile. Instead paste this code into the Firefox address bar -

javascript:void(document.oncontextmenu=null) .

This will re-enable the disabled right click. Now proceed as before.

This code can be used on any site that disables right click

Hat tip to this post on "Re-Enable Right-Click When Web Pages Turn It Off"

Filed under code, misc
Jun 9, 2010

What PQWL means on a railway ticket

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PQWL is one of the many Waiting List types that appear on reservation tickets. Practically speaking this is a Waiting List. Technically, there’s a difference between PQWL, CKWL, GNWL etc. The total seats available for reservation on a train are divided among different quotas. There’s the ladies quota, tatkal quota and general quota. Some trains also have what is called the Pooled Quota or PQ. When you book a ticket to a station for which tickets are issued from the pooled quota, then you get a pooled quota waiting list or PQWL if all the tickets available in the PQ quota have already been booked. This is similar to CKWL (Waiting list on the tatkal quota). The pooled quota is used for a bunch of stations who share a pool of tickets. These are relatively minor stations, at least as far as that particular train is concerned. For eg. if you were to book a ticket from Bangalore(SBC) to Rajamundry(RJY) on the Guwahati Express (2509), then you would get tickets assigned from the Pooled Quota. Waiting lists from this PQ quota appear as PQWL on the ticket.

Filed under misc
May 19, 2010