Friday, February 12, 2010

My Name Is 'Kumar'

My name is Vijay Kumar, call me Vijay. I have no idea where I live but if you ask me my gender and age, I can help you with the information (let me pull that wretched ticket).

My train was late last night by 10 hours. Don't gasp, it's pretty common in this part of the world. Someone (not too intelligent) has said in jest if humans can be late why can't the train?. You definitely have a point mister.

So, I was stranded. The curious travelers gasped and empathised and then the unwarranted advises started flowing. Some accused me for mindlessly booking on a this train (they say it is never on time), one even accused me of traveling in first class and then there were some who offered to help but they couldn't look for that someones number (I was hoping it was not that someone who I mentioned at the beginning) through the phone directory who could help.

I had to sneak into any train, I have had a rough day and over it this. I was prepared to travel any class even on a general ticket - with it you have the right to get on the train into the general compartment but in all probability one would either be standing and if lucky would get some inches to squat no and then (what more could you get for Rs/- 100). I had been away for 3 days and missed home; I wanted to be home in the morning and in my cozy bed.

I dragged my luggage and looked around for some help. I ran to the reservation counter but got a little confused with the counters (they say a lot and do little), I asked an unassuming old porter where I could get my general ticket. He casually asked me where I am traveling to and his next question was do you need a ticket - my eyes lit up. Of course! he took me outside and under the rain shelter his partner flashed a wad of ticket. He handed me one it had sex as M and age 27 on it and its was a sleeper class ticket. I paid him almost twice the price of ticket but I was happy that I would be home in the morning.

The adventure starts picking speed now. I rushed back to the platform and waived the ticket to the fellows who had suggested me to get a general one. They couldn't believe I had a real confirmed ticket (most were jealous). My first task was to find out what would my name be for this journey. I only had a part of my identity (sex and age) but that's not enough sometime (some of the ticket checkers try to make their jobs interesting by asking some personal questions and quizzing the travelers).

Thirty mins before the departure time they put up the list of the traveling passenger. There I was, but not as Kamal Sharma but Vijay Kumar. My name was to be Vijay Kumar for this journey. I memorized it and practiced introducing myself as Vijay.

Sweat broke down my forehead as I recalled a T.V advert of the 80's where one traveler was pretending to be 'Praveen Chadda' and traveling on someones ticket. He had to face humiliation and not to mention a hefty fine. It played in my head over and over again. I visualized myself fumbling when the checker would look at me and try to match the details (I even had a plan B if I was asked to deboard the train). I prepared my excuse statements and rehearsed them well (just in case) - my great grandfather is unwell and would breath his last any moment, I have an exam - 'mera career ka sawal hai' etc.

I looked upwards and shot a small prayer to the almighty to save me (if everything fails). The train chugged along noisily and after about 30 nervous minutes a lanky kid of about 25 asked me for my ticket. Before he could ask anything, I diverted his attention to the broken window and the loose latch and mildly complained. He muttered some acknowledgments and handed the ticket back to me. As he passed me I heaved a sigh of relief. Finally I smiled, it was a smile of triumph and victory but more of a relief.

Caution : Never travel on someones else ticket, it's a punishable crime; unless you like trouble and excitement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

:)Mr.Vijay Kumar i think u put yr head between yr knees all along the