So…… I have been living in Mumbai for last two years and have been travelling by Mumbai locals for my daily commute using the three month 1st class pass. And I buy it for Andheri to Churchgate even though I live in Matunga because I hate to stand in queues during one of those rare occasions when I might have to travel to Andheri on some weekend. And because of this I always have to renew my pass from Churchgate rather than Matunga, because (weirdly enough) pass between two stations could either be purchased from one of the two stations only and nowhere else.
Initially, I would always forget to renew my pass on time and travel for 2-3 days without pass without even realizing that I don't have the pass. I would invariably remember after I reach office or back at home and could do nothing except swear that I'll buy it the next time I am in Churchgate. So if I am at office I would have to buy it while I return from Churchgate and if I am at home I would have to buy a one day ticket next morning from Matunga and then in the evening buy the pass while returning. So I have explained the entire logistics involved in this small story! Phew. If you have managed to read till now, it's going to get better.
Now I used to really wonder that how inefficient is the security at Mumbai stations because I never got caught without ticket for that pocket of 2-3 days. I wondered how many people actually took advantage of it. With scholarly like wisdom I concluded that Mumbai locals may not be so crowded if they keep a stringent security check. I could not have been more wrong.
After a year or so, one day I REMEMBERED to renew the pass ON TIME. Well not really on time; I remembered it on my morning journey to Churchgate while I was in the train. Now I had the choice of jumping out at the next station and get a one day ticket or go ticketless. Lazy as I am I decided to trust my luck of umpteen escapes and get the pass while returning. Note that I chose to go with my criminal instinct. And bingo, today there's a surprise check on the very next station. A lady gets into and started asking for tickets. I started sweating profusely. Oh the humiliation; I wanted to jump out of the train. So before she would come to me, I went to her to say that my ticket expired yesterday, blah blah blah (my old trick at school to tell my teachers that something is wrong before they find out and earn a brownie point… I know very kiddo). And apparently the kiddo way didn't work. She sternly and loudly (I wanted to hit her in the head and ask her to lower her voice!) asked me to pay up Rs.260 as the fine.
You would think the next time I wouldn't forget to renew it on time. But I do. And I don't get caught too again!! It's freakish.
On my latest renewal day, I remembered to buy my one day ticket right on time. I reached Matunga station all determined to buy one day ticket in the morning. And there's this unusually long queue which is exactly the same thing I try to avoid all the time. Now I had two options, take a cab to office or go by train and try my luck again. I can't be unlucky two times. And traffic is so bad in morning that going by cab is real pain. So I board my train. And in train my criminal mind was on work (praying also that the lady doesn't show up today!). I planned that I will get down through one of the subways which leads directly out of the station so I don't bump into one of those officers who sometime stand at the main entrance. So I get of the train and like a criminal I walk out of the small subway. Now there are two ways to get out of the subway and I couldn't remember which one lead out into the open directly (you do not want to be forgetful if you engage in criminal activities). Even though I am not religious I took Lord Krishna's name and took a left turn. And as if just for me, an officer appears out of nowhere, at the end of the subway. I have never seen an officer in the subway ever before!!!! It was too late to turn back and he indicated me to show my card. There you go. Rs.260 and my dignity.
There are major conclusions from this story:
- Mumbai Security is actually VERY effective in catching the real criminals and not the innocent forgetful ones.
- And I am never ever going to travel ticketless. Even if that means jumping right off the train at the moment I realize I am without ticket.
- Finally, the criminal inside me is a poor, poor criminal.