Bro-in-law and family had planned to travel to North-East India. Since the air travel was booked from a different city for some reason, and they had to travel by train to reach there. I thought an air-conditioned train that starts from Bangalore would make their travel more comfortable. My thought agenda included to ensure this European, Indian mix family talk about a changed India with a double decker, food served at your seat… etc. etc. kind of service in an Indian train. After all, I am a “would like to be” more proud Indian. And, this is family.
All my gimmicks started a couple of days before the travel date. Found some fancy train names and while explaining some details to them, I was ensuring my facial expressions are not giving them an idea that Indian railway calls me first to take my opinion about the trains. While secretly appreciating Mr. Sundar Pichai and team who empowers little lambs like me, ego was taking an equal amount of credit. Why not? In the last 10 years I might have used railways at least 4 to 5 magnified times! When bro-in-law finally announced the result of booking the Double Decker train from Bangalore to Chennai, I looked at my wife to receive that “thank you my darling” recognition which I felt like deteriorating the expected repetitiveness off late.
The D-day fell on a Saturday and the journey began. Somewhere my confidence was already taken a hike being stuck in the legendary KR Puram traffic. I squeezed my tiny hatchback in to the tail end of a supposed to be car parking space. The only wish I wanted to be granted at that moment was the train to come ASAP without these people noticing the limitations and lack of information all-around. Finally, the wish was granted. As if an Egyptian mummy getting ready for a new world of beauty pageant, a ghost-like figure of a train appeared at the platform, moving its hip in rhythm. All paint peeled off from its skin, it looked exhausted, but still someone is forcing to run nonstop for the next 5 hours. As soon as the train cried out loud and stopped, people paused taking selfies and started pushing their way forward to get in. Family somehow managed to get in without getting hurt.
Whatever, I am done with it. While walking back I felt relieved. Guess I was whistling an old song?
A good-looking lady’s waving hand woke me up and ha! she is very pleasantly asking for something. See, excellent things can happen in this place. All set to help, I walked closer to her. 1st question was “how many of you are here?” While calling out for him to stop and come back to where I am standing, I very politely responded “My brother and I”. “Ticket please”, she asked. What? I almost murmured. “Ticket, platform ticket” she said. The knowledge of not having one of that prestigious piece of paper tickled my wallet. To add more oil to the fire, an elderly man walked past us and she asked him for the ticket. He immediately presented the certificate to her by throwing an ugliest smirk I have ever seen at me. It was evident that it’s my turn to receive a lecture of depreciation. She said, “see, he is a senior citizen, even he knows to take a platform ticket. You have to pay Rs.300 each Rs.600 as a penalty”. I responded with the cutest smile I can mimic on my face and said “Please help, no money to go back home”. I was also ready with severe image damaging yet another final expression if this doesn’t work in my favour. Luckily she agreed to settle it with writing one penalty.
While driving back home I did not hear my brother asking why did I drag him into it. Moreover, he was busy on phone explaining the entire scene to my wife with added spices.