Monday, August 17, 2009

Another train journey

Who is afraid to get dirty ?
The one who is clean.

I happened to witness an incident in the train on my recent trip to Udaipur. There were 3 other passengers in our compartment, an old husband wife couple and a sister of the husband. The husband (a man in 70s) had booked the ticket for the journey. But while booking the ticket, he wrote the age of his sister as 35 whereas actually she was in her late 40s. The ticket checker came and surprisingly enough he noticed that. He asked that family to pay the price of the ticket as well penalty because they have violated the rules and were guilty of transfer of tickets. The family rightfully (this is my personal stand) refused to do so as the same person was travelling on whose name the ticket has been booked.

But the family did this the wrong way. They claimed that the women was actually 35. The ticket collecter asked them to give this statement in written. But to this, they refused. From here on things turn nasty and as happens, the others in the train (including me) were involved in the brawl. I got involved because I thought it was unjust and that the family should not have been penalized for an innocent mistake of an old man. It is India after all. Given the size of the families that we used to have in the past, its not uncommon for a man to forget the age of his younger sister.

But the ticket checker didn't think of it that way. To him it was a case of transfer of ticket (they call it ToT). He called some other TC and RPF constable on the train. And that enraged me further. Had it been some other bold and shrewd person, he would have given the necessary detail in writing. Had it been some hot shot, had it been someone powerful, the TC would not have got into the trouble of doing all this. But unfortunately it was an old couple who was afraid of the legal proceedings.

And this happens in this country all the time. Its as if the laws are not meant for the mighty and powerful. They are meant for those whom they can intimidate. They are not meant for a large enterprise which has defaulted on its loan. Rather they are meant for that farmer who couldn't repay his. They are not meant for the big shops that encroach the roads. Rather they are made for those small road side hawkers.

Conformity to the law is no more a virtue of an honest citizen. It is the rather the weakness of those who are not 'brave' enough to flout it. On one hand we have people indicted for severe crimes out in open. And on the other we have several innocents behind the bar. Weakness is the only crime. And the strength is the only religion.

But fortunately things turned out well eventually after few level headed people got involved. It was later pointed out to me by some other passenger who was a frequent traveller of that train on that route that the TC was a dead honest person and a martinet. But I still feel that he should have used his discretion rather than going by the rules. After all that is the difference between a a man and a machine.

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