I was recently traveling by train to the hometown, in the Hyderabad-Kollam and Kollam-Punalur routes. The Hyderabad train arrived at the Kollam station behind schedule at 1744 hrs, and the onward train to Punalur was about to leave from the adjacent platform at 1745. With a minute to go, it was impossible for me to make the km-long walk up and down to the ticket counter to purchase the onward ticket, and I explained my predicament to the guard. Further, I requested her that if she would issue/write out a continuation ticket for my journey to Punalur for a fare of Rs. 10/- using a challan, I could board the train. She replied negatively, but nodded to me to jump in even as she was whistling and raising the green flag. The train was very crowded due to the evening rush of passengers and students returning to their homes. Hesitantly, I boarded sans a valid ticket.
The train pulled out nonchalantly leaving me to despair. I had not done this before; and, wondered if I had joined all those who contributed to the plight of the railways in a woeful manner. Besides, I had to mentally formulate the explanation that I needed to confront with the ticket examiner.
As if reading my thoughts, the train came to a quick halt at the next station. The ticket counter was bang opposite to the bogie I was in, and I jumped out leaving my luggage in the crowded compartment. Even as I approached the counter waving the exact change, the girl refused to issue a ticket stating that the green signal was on and the train about to move. The flag was up and the station master too exhorted me to get in. I ran back and jumped into the moving train. A ticket was not to be.
My misery was complete. Even as I watched the countryside pass by, I reflected on how I would make it up to the national carrier…..one that dutifully makes my visits worthwhile.
The author Saji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next post, take care.