this morning went to brahmotsavam festival at Sri Ranganatha temple, pomona village, with my friend in his car. on the way back, o.c-vahanam was not available, and i had to take the public transportation.
used a cab service to get myself dropped at the nearest train station. being so accustomed to the plastic in the city, i carry no more than 20/30 bucks on me. the cab driver took 20 of these.
about four minutes was left for the arrival of the train. the sunday schedule - one train every hour.
i rushed to the touch screen enabled ticket vending machine. i gave all the inputs it requested for, and to my shock found that the credit option was disabled. i gave benefit of doubt to software, and started from scratch again. but the same result.
it was not a bug but a feature !
i counted the few dollars left in my wallet, added all the coins i had, but could not make the amount the machine demanded.
being sunday, the ticket office was closed. no help was anywhere near in the two-track-no-high-raise-platform-station that befitted the description of the malgudi railway station. as i was thanking my stars, the train pulled in.
30 seconds lay between me catching the train, and a one hour wait on the malgudi station.
i went to the conductor who descended from one of the coaches. "hi, i only have credit card. the vending machine does not accept credit card".
"that is fine. just get the ticket", replied the conductor.
"no, sir. the machine does not take credit card".
"use cash", promptly came the reply.
like a school boy who forgot to do his homework, i said, "i don't have enough cash on me!".
the conductor looked at me up and down once, and said, "i can't do nothing. speak to the chief!". saying so, the he pointed in the direction of a train car at the front.
i ran up the station platform to the chief conductor, an elderly gentleman, and explained the situation to him.
the chief said, "get into the train, we shall see."
i was relieved.
after the train started moving, the chief approached me and said, "it is seven dollars for your ticket sir".
"can i pay by card ?!", i asked, very well knowing the answer.
"how much cash do you have?"
the chief smirked, gave me a free ticket, and said, "carry few dollars, it is valid where ever you go!".