43 Rohan Mishra M 22 (In this supposedly indecipherable code, the number 43 stands for the seat number M stands for male and the figure 22 is the age of that person whose name is given)

Have you ever seen information similar to this in a super retro interface at a public transportation service printed on a dot matrix with a longer list?

No. This ain’t Tinder. This is our very own—drumrolls please—the train reservation chart. I am a rail fanatic and even though in this rapid paradigm shift to cheaper flights, I still prefer the rails. I have travelled more than 20,000 km by trains and have been fascinated by every element of my travel diaries connected with aspects ranging from locomotives, signalling, train schedules, rail history, rail trivia to food available at railway stations. To enjoy all these aspects, I always remain glued to the window seat (which I am most reluctant to share even with that kid who whines to glory for it). But today, I am going to talk about one tool that can open a gateway to a plethora of relationships with those people present besides you and travelling on the train – the reservation chart.

Tinder on Rails
For representation purpose only

A reservation chart is a paper document, pasted beside the door of a reserved coach of a train at its originating destination. It contains the name of the passenger on the corresponding seat number along with that passenger’s age and gender. The chart also gives details of those passengers whose waitlisted tickets have gotten confirmed.

Before boarding for longer journeys I always make sure to check the reservation chart and educate myself on the diversity of people that I can expect during my travels. Not only me but thousands use this tool to figure the demographic out. Longer journeys require good company and if you have someone of a similar age bracket the experience would end up being far more participative.

Being an extrovert, I make sure to check who is allocated to my compartment and if that could reciprocate to meaningful conversations. I have often been paired up some amazing fellow travellers with whom I have shared great travel experiences with. I am usually the one to start a conversation. Conversations usually begin with greetings, place of origin to place of arrival to the reason of travel and you then connect to detailed topics. Favourite books to favourite movies and in no time you are on a date as you are served a 3-course Michelin Star meal on Indian Railways.

Tinder on Rails

Well, this is just like Tinder but happening to you in real life. The reservation chart is your visual interface and the best part is once you’re in your seat you have no option but to swipe right. Instant Match. The success ratio is not all that great considering the diversity in trains that I mentioned earlier but it’s definitely worth a shot. Speaking of diversity, more than half of my journeys have been with cantankerous geriatrics and middle-aged folks hounding me for my lower berth (which I book for the window seat). I have to then fight a battle of refusal to save my seat and satisfy myself with sights seen outside my prized possession.

On further research and speaking to more people on this subject, I realised that people who have met on trains have blossomed their relationship from friendship to marriage and similarly hooking up has also become quite common on trains too. Thankfully the bathroom space in trains is much more than flights so joining the Rail High Club is much easier than joining the Mile High Club though I would never recommend doing that.

Now thanks to the reservation chart, I am also able to not only remember the details of the locomotives and other technical aspects of the journey but also the names of those who have made that journey memorable. My only sincere hope is that they too have faint memories of that one person who is me when they think of rail journeys just like I remember them. The only difference here is that the memory traces that I have of them is pretty strong despite my high failure rate in this domain.

And here I am looking forward to my next train journey and my next tryst with this paper document which I hope shall change my life.

Disclaimer: Names of the person used here is only for the representational purpose. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This article in no way promotes stalking or any other related actions. This is compiled from experiences of several people on their train journeys. The only purpose of this article is to share the information we have gathered from a first person’s perspective.