Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Wet And Painful Day

Yesterday after lunch, on the way to the bank, it suddenly rained cats and dogs. Despite using an umbrella, I was wet all over. As I was walking on the verandah towards the bank's main door, I nearly slipped and fell. The marble floor was wet and slippery. Luckily I was walking slowly and managed to locked my legs to prevent myself from slipping. Although I did managed to keep my balance, it aggravated the nerves and/or muscle of my legs. It was painful to walk after that. Last night I also could not sleep due to the pain. I did not take any pain killers because they are not good for my body. I think I will go for a massage today.

Pilgrimage To India 2 - Update
In 2009, I used to book train tickets directly through the Indian Railway (www.irctc.co.in) online portal. I still have my account credentials. But this time round when I went to do my booking, I was asked to update my account status. As part of the updating process, I was required to input my mobile number and the website will sent me a code after which I will need to update the code in my account profile. However, the website has hard coded the country code, meaning they will only accept the mobile number to come from India. As a result, I could not update and hence unable to book. I wrote to IRCTC about this problem and they have yet to reply to me.

Besides the above problem, my friend Vishuddi told me that IRCTC now does not accept Mastercard or Visa card for online payment. I wrote to IRCTC for clarification and the official reply was that they only accept cards issued by banks in India. I wonder how are foreigners now going to pay for the train tickets online?

Luckily, Vishuddi told me to use a third party online portal (www.cleartrip.com). I will have to pay some processing fees but at least I can book. I made my first successful booking from New Delhi to Gaya two days ago.

Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to book the train tickets for travel from Gaya to Varanasi. However, after 30 minutes of trying, I was still not able to get the credit payment approved. I called up my Bank but was told, no attempt to debit the card was made and the bank did not block my card. So I was told to retry later. Sigh...

Later in the evening, I retried and I managed to get one booking through. But the second booking failed but my credit card has been debited! About 20 minutes later, I retried and it also failed. I am booking in a block of 4 passengers so that we all could be allocated a compartment but the actual allocation would depend on IRCTC's server. Just then I received a call from Cleartrip, India. I was surprised they actually called me to tell me that the booking has failed and they will manually try at their end to convert the booking. I was asked to wait 2 minutes. The gentleman at the other end, named Kuna was very helpful. He later confirmed that my booking has failed and asked me to try again 1 hour later as the problem was with IRCTC server. He said they will refund my two failed bookings. Well, I call that very good service! Cleartrip only charged a processing fee of Rs20 (US$0.45) per booking. They just converted me to a permanent customer.

You must be wondering why I don't book all the train tickets in one go? Well that is because IRCTC only allows 90 days advance booking (for example 24 August 2011 can book 22 November 2011 tickets). As I am traveling on different dates, I have to wait to fulfill the 90+2 days to book. Some sectors (like New Delhi to Gaya and Gorakhpur to New Delhi) are hot sectors where demand exceeds supply for AC2 class. If you don't book as early as possible or when it is open for booking, chances are that you may not get all the tickets that you want.

Other than flying, traveling on the train is the fastest and safest way to travel between town/cities in India. Traveling inter cities on the road at night is not recommended.

1 comment:

  1. CT ... I am glad you are planning for your trip !

    ReplyDelete