Was at Vashi station again. The queue was incredibly long for the tickets, and as usual, I was late for Office. Queues are my favourite place to observe people and their mannerisms. At it's best, the queue was crawling. People around were had a lost look upon their faces, resigned to the fact that they have to be a part of this serpentine queue for the next half an hour or so. I was intently reading a petition put up airing the grievances of the commuters; Long queues, no shades, malfunctioning vending machines et cetera.
The man behind me remarked, "Ever since they started the computerised ticketing system, the exercise of buying a ticket has become painfully slow."
I was in no mood to start a conversation but I smiled and said, "Yes ,It has. " He was right. This was one example where technology had slowed life considerably. The days of card tickets seemed to be from some bygone era.
I was very impatient and was glancing at the watch more often and I swear, the clock was moving faster than ever. My Manager would be having me for lunch today.
I was nearing the counter and my eyes fell on two boys who seemed to be very worried after getting the tickets. They were comparing their tickets and talking very fast. I threw a customary glance at my watch again and it was then of the boys suddenly entered the queue ahead of me and told the man over the counter , "Sir, I wanted a ticket for CBD and you gave me one for CST."
The person retorted, "So you mean to say I don't know the difference between CST and CBD?"
The scared boy replied, " Sir, please take this ticket back and give me a ticket for CBD"
The Officer glowered and the kid stepped back. I was near enough to overhear their conversation. They were with no extra money and were too innocent to travel ticketless.
One of the boys came up with an idea. They tried selling the ticket to someone who would like to go to CST. Little did they know that a railway station is the last place where a Mumbaikar would trust another.
They were good kids from presumably decent families with clean , oiled hair , bright faces with spectacles et al. Their backpacks proudly declared "IIT-Jee".
I tapped one of them on the back and asked what the problem was. " Uncle, CST jaana hai aapko?" The kid asked immediately. Do you want to go to CST?
"Uncle??" I winced. Feeling my stubble, I said that I didn't want to. The kid left without saying anything.
"Ek ticket nikaalke do naa CBD ke liye, please" the other kid blurted out desperately. Would you please buy one ticket to CBD for us.
I was at the counter by then. I wanted to go to CBD myself. I asked the man over the counter to give another ticket to CBD as well.
"Pata nahi kahan kahan se aa jaate hain hero banne!" The Officer muttered under his breath. God knows where these wannabe heroes pop up from!
I winked at the officer and handed over the ticket to the kid who grabbed it and started running towards the platform.
As an afterthought, one of them turned back and shouted, "Thanks Bhaiyya!!"
I was relieved that it was not the other kid who had called me an "Uncle".