I am not a big fan of the centre seats on Shatabdi, the ones that face each other but resign myself to it when there is no choice. As I settled into my window seat (at least I am assured of one when I book in time online) and made myself comfortable, I quickly scanned my companions: a sweet elderly lady in front of me, an aged gentleman Sardar diagonally opposite me and another distinguished lady to my left. It’s evening, past my tea-time and having just dealt with the chaotic Delhi traffic, I am not in the happiest of moods.
I scan the evening papers, reply to a bunch of text messages to friends of my whereabouts for the next few days, quickly email my daughter before she complains that I haven’t written to her and wait for the tea to be served. Meanwhile, my earphones come out and I sit back to listen to music.
We are handed ‘lassi’… mango or strawberry flavoured if you please. Yikes! What is Shatabdi coming to? I mention in jest to my favourite TC that we should have a choice to order from a delectable range of ‘aperitifs’ and to put this down in the suggestion book. Tickled by my recommendation, he walks off with a smile on his face.
I notice major cost-cutting — no more cashew packets, its peanuts instead, quite literally! No sandwiches, a mini squashed patty and the chocolate bar has shrunk into two toffees! The famous ‘sohanpapdi’ box has been replaced by a tiny packet of the same and the mineral water bottle is half the size. No refreshing towel or wet wipes. Time to wake up and smell the ‘non-existent’ welcoming rose that is history. What a prickly situation!
While the tickets are being checked, the lady on my left enquires about the status of an extra second ticket that had been purchased and had not been cancelled and the older Sardar apprises the TC that he had changed seats with another person in the next coach. While mine is checked and returned, the TC informs the senior lady that her ticket is for the next day and she is travelling ‘ticketless’. She is aghast and shocked to learn of this and naturally quite upset. She enquires about the repercussions of this gaffe and feebly asks if the TC will offload her out into the wilderness! We all smile back reassuringly and the TC comforts her that no such thing will happen and that there would just be a penalty to pay though.
While the fine is being worked out, the lady to the left of me asks the TC very politely if it would be possible if she surrendered her extra ticket that had not been cancelled yet to the old lady. I notice some hesitation in the TC’s face as he explains that he cannot do anything illegal and the lady in turn articulates that she didn’t expect him to but if possible, in this case, as a senior citizen was involved, they could try and help her out.
The TC agrees and tells the senior lady not to worry and that it is part of his job to help out wherever and whenever possible.
Source Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com