Skip to main content

A quick tale 134

On a train, about 3 weeks ago

You see him at the far end of the carriage. His once black coat now a tired shade of grey. It hangs onto him like loose skin, sagging at the shoulders, flopping around the elbows. Ticket, please. Thank you. Ticket, please. Thank you. He criss-crosses the coach muttering his endless litany as he checks the passengers for valid tickets. He doesn't dwell on the tickets for too long. A perfunctory glance, a vertical rip at the top right hand corner and it is returned to the owner. At this rate, he should reach you in the next few minutes.

But at five rows from where you are sitting, the entourage comes to an abrupt halt. He asks a passenger something. His ticket presumably. You see a head shaking as if to say no. You can see the expression on the ticket checker's face change. From dull nonchalance to one of brisk authority. You see him uttering a harsh rebuke as he scribbles something on his notepad. Does it say, this man was found travelling ticketless?, you wonder. And would he stick it on the free-rider's back to warn his colleagues of the danger this man poses? You watch as the hapless passenger is escorted to the door by the scruff of his collar. The rest of the carriage watches, smug in their law-abiding complacence. A mother points out to her little boy the evils of stow away travelling. You hope the boy grows up to be a responsible citizen of the world.

Ticket please. The voice is very close to you. A rip, a return. Ticket? Ticket? The voice is right above you. You look up at him. With a blank expression. What a silly little demand, you would like to have said. Ticket? the voice repeats not bothering to hide its irritation. I broke my arm in an accident last week, you say. The ticket checker looks at you with open hostility. And my house was burnt down, you add. And my wife ran away with the post man. You see a hand grabbing your collar.

What's the world coming to?


apu said…
I love this one, and the previous one. The people are very, very real
Pappaya Pie said…
:P, happend quite a few times with me. and once i had the gall to borrow a tenor to get back home since it was obvious "i'd forgotten my wallet". That she actually fell for that puppy-look on my face and that she actually lent it, is a diff issue...i wonder what i was thinking when i asked for that loan...was i even thinking...
D.N.A. said…
Why am I reminded of George Costanza?

You May Also Like

Guest blog by Chinna Ammani

Here’s an interesting write-up by Chinna Ammani on stereotypical portrayals in Indian adverts. The opinion expressed is strong and the language uncompromising. Read at your own peril!-a

The Aiyaiyo Syndrome

These days I do what is called as a shooting supervision. When ads are filmed (with lip sync) in Tamizh, my job is to teach models their lines and rehearse with them. Most of them are from Mumbai and are non-Tamilians. So when they have to do a line in Tamil, for example "Adanaaladan Dettol ubayogikaren" (And that's why I use Dettol) , they invariably say "Aadanaladaanu naanu Detttaalu ubayogikkareanu" (Something hideous). Their exaggerated delivery of our supposed accent is all thanks to Hindi actor Mehmood. My blood pressure rises and I yell "DO NOT DO A MEHMOOD HERE. WE DO NOT SPEAK LIKE THAT".

Though their voice is dubbed later with a Tamil voice-over, I ensure that they pronounce it the non-Mehmood way. Mehmood has done this major damage to us So…


Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.


Now and Then

"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

Lost in Post

To a little boy

It cannot be easy being you. A follow-up act to your more devilishly charming, flamboyant older brother. Before you were born, I was convinced that no child could ever take the special place your brother had come to occupy in my life. I used to argue with your father you would always be a second-born. A runner-up. A bridesmaid (or a best-man, as you turned out to be). That you could never be the prized, cherished, celebrated apple of my eye that my firstborn child was. But how easily you tore down my flimsy little conviction. The minute I saw you, I knew I was gone. What was worse, I succumbed willingly.

My fears that you would be overshadowed by your brother have proven unfounded. Over the past year, you have come into your own as a person. Your brother demands and challenges our love and attention. You, on the other hand, are much more accepting of our distractions with him. It is almost as if you understand that he is used to being the star of the show for much of his…

I ask, you write

Okay, here's the idea. I ask you a question and you write a short story explaining it. Let me give you an example.

What happened when young Padmavathi was drawing water from the well to wash her clothes, early one Margazhi morning?

Annon's story

One morning when Padmavathi was drawing water from the well, she found Pettai Rowdy # 1 Govindarajulu inside the bucket! She dropped it at once and Govindarajulu went down and down and hit the bottom of the well with a Nung sound. His upper and lower teeth fused together and since then he has been fed intravenously. Pettai Rowdy # 2, Ragothaman Iyengar, who suggested this to Govindarajulu, now rules the roost.

After marrying Padmavathi, he is inviting all of you to a water drawing ceremony at the new well they dug in their house.

Jai Ragothaman Iyengar! Jai Padmavathi! Come one, Come all!


Here's a question for you.

What happened that made young Meenakshi change her mind about the parrot green saree she had originally chosen and go for a …