Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Coupon punching machine

The absence of functional railway coupon punching machines in Mumbai

Mumbai is an overpopulated metro in a rush. And its railways have the highest passenger density of any urban railway system in the world. Hence it is an extremely tedious and demanding task to travel by these overloaded railways- packed with men as if they were cattle. The battle, however, begins with trying to acquire a ticket to these railways. One has to stand in a never-ending queue or else one might try to end this misery by purchasing railway coupons. But no, this isn’t that easy. First you have to evade through hordes of people (fight with some) and purchase a coupon. Then you go to the coupon punching machine; a sign board either says ‘out of order’, or else in its absence you try getting your coupons punched and realize, like Sisyphus, the futility of your attempts. Having realized that one hunts for the stamps with date and station name on them in frenzy and then finds them – two dirty stamps tied with a dirty rope to an equally dirty ticket window. Well once this date stamp had the wrong date on it. A kind passenger saved the other commuters from the T. C.’s wrath by correcting this date; in the process the man ended up staining his entire hands in blue ink. And this in the financial capital of India! I won’t deign to imagine the condition of places elsewhere in India.

In order to capture this I have written a poem as follows:

The coupon punching machine

The coupon punching machine.
The fat man who’s hardly ever working!
Whenever I go he’s on leave
Due to some ailment;
Last time he was handicapped.
Miserable condition I must say.
Poor thing!
Finally he succumbed
To his illnesses.
Now there are
Two wires dangling
Where he sat lazily,
And two stamps elsewhere
At a ticket window.
May his soul rest in peace.

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