Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Caught Ticket-less!


(Ladies clinging to their handholds inside the Bombay train.)

It’s like the opening sentences to the Dickensian novel “A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...."

To be honest, sadly, it’s the worst of times. The crowd in the train this morning had to be seen to be believed. Here’s a picture I clicked of the ladies compartment (No, no MCP thing this, just that the camera couldn’t catch anything but the backs of necks, and chunky bottoms in the gents’ compartment!).

People kept piling into the compartment and just when I thought there’s no space left, there would come a battering from behind, pushing mass of flesh, as the stations progressed towards Victoria Terminus. Everybody had a job to protect, everybody depended on a monthly income to pay rent, equated monthly instalments (EMIs), children’s fees, insurance, taxes, etc. So, denying a man space was like denying him his existence. So we adjust. Co-operation takes the form of adjusting ones paunch a little to the left, standing on one leg to let the other keep his leg down, ignoring the guy whose unmentionable is thrusting into your unmentionable, and receiving and putting other peoples’ bags on the overhead racks. Simple deeds for simple needs! But an occasional fight would breakout and there would be angry words, even pushes and punches. Anger takes on a new meaning in such circumstances. Imagine what people are going through: recession, slowdown, stagflation, in fact, the whole jiggery-pokery thingamajig.

Remember the episode of narrowly escaping the ticket checker a month back? Today’s episode proved that travelling ticket-less (It’s a favourite of Indian railways “Ticketless travel.”) doesn’t pay and, not even petty infringements. I didn’t know my monthly pass had expired. Damn! I kept thinking it was March 3 when it would end, when it was March 2, and there he was right in front, asking me to show my ticket.

Bummer!

I had to shell out Rs 360 sheepishly in front of all my fellow commuters. Oh! Shame! I remonstrated saying it’s just one day, I would be a good guy and buy a ticket this evening. I know, so careless of me! Even the man standing next to me tried to intercede on my behalf. Nothing worked. He has targets to meet. In these times of job loss, pay cuts, no pay at all, Rs 360 will cut a big hole in the pocket. “It’s the worst of times,” probably. I am still smarting at the smart aleck ticket checker’s irreconcilability, if there’s such a word. (Word doesn’t underline the word in red as I type it, so I know there is!)

En Passant...

Anthonybhai says, “Men, you have no sense only, why didn’t you check your wallet the previous day? I, tho, check my pass regularly, fine kisko bharneko mangta, no?”

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