This write up is likely to incense all those who hate travelling in the ‘cattle class’. So, my first-class brethren read this only if you have the patience of a cattle class traveller,
Last week, I was in the queue at one of the ticket counters at the most populated railway station in Mumbai, Andheri. As opposed to my days at Times Now, where I bought a monthly pass and saved myself the burden of standing in long queues, today I don’t travel in trains daily. The few train visits are merely restricted to press conference or a scheduled interviews in distant areas. So, I do have to go through the painful journey of standing in long queues. At times, this stretches to 15 minutes.
Standing in the queue we bemoan about the huge population, inefficient and slow staff at the booking counter. Add to it the daunting heat of Mumbai, sweat dripping down your brows. Tempers are bound to flare, if anyone tries to break the queue or barge their way in. Thankfully, despite going through this laborious routine, second class passengers are still an obedient lot, seldom do they break the queue as most patiently await their turn.
Now, imagine amidst this toil, you come across few chaps who go pass by the queue shove their hands into the counter and ask for coupons. I confess to doing the same many times, but every time I’ve done it, I’ve felt a sense of shame as it purely unfair on the passengers waiting in the queue. So, I stopped jumping queue.
But it’s not the coupon-seeking passengers who irk me, the one’s i’m referring here to our the haughty ‘FIRST-CLASS PASSENGERS’..
So, whilst I was waiting my turn, I saw a bearded boy wearing t-shit and 3/4th pants, holding a 500 rupee note gingerly moving around the passengers up front. I sensed he could be another coupon seeking commuter, but upon asking him to join in the line, he tells me that “I’m not travelling by second class, I’m a first-class passenger. And I think the rule is that first-class passengers don’t need to stand in the queue.”
When I asked him if there’s such a rule, then why can’t he show it to me in writing since you are so aware of it. He had no answer, he jumped ahead, took his ticket and off he went. I told him it was very unfair on us. This kid wasn’t rude, but he merely sidestepped my query and passed by.
Few minutes later, my urn was about to come, when all of sudden a bespectacled gentleman, dressed in formal clothing,probably late 40s, barged in from my left trying to shove his hand at the counter window. I told him to get in line, to which he very rudely replied, “There is no queue for first-class passenger.”
To ensure that he doesn’t get ahead of me, I stretched left hand and placed it on the wall outside the window. He kept looking at me angrily. I asked the ticket vendor whether there was such a rule, to which she replied ‘yes’. I looked up to this man and told him, “Boss, while there may be a no-queue rule for first-class passengers, but there’s no rule that justifies your hastiness. It’s unfair on second class passengers. You think we are stupid to stand for long duration in the queue?”
Much to my chagrin, this buffoon replied, “Yes, you are stupid.” Aghast with his reply, I told him you should be ashamed of yourselves Such a reply only shows how stupid you are. ” Before leaving, I told him one simple thing, “You idiot! You may have a first-class ticket, but you have absolutely no class.” He kept mum, wanting to avoid me, but i’d told him go look in the mirror and all that you’ll see is a jack ass’
I left from the place in anger. This episode made me wonder, if there’s a rule for no-queue for first-class passengers, then shouldn’t there be an all together different counters, like we have airports? I respect that they pay much higher money to travel, but that doesn’t empower them to delay things for the second class passengers, who patiently awaits his turn. The money that these passengers pay gives them no moral right to jump ahead of the second-class passengers. More importantly, our second class tickets doesn’t tell us to make way for the first-class passengers. Sadly, most second class passengers merely bear this unfair rule and allow these jokers to pass by them.
Rules kept aside, isn’t there a certain thing called civility? Often you’d find these first-class passengers mocking at the uncivil nature of the second-class passenger. But how civil are they when they pass by old men, women and children to avail their first-class benefits. Often there are people who’d say that this culture was originated by the British. Well, that might have been true, but in my few travels to the UK I never saw a single man jumping queue, or a first-class passenger shoving his hand in the ticket window? The western countries have separate counters for the first-class passengers and it’s high time that our railways to employ the same.
Now, despite me crying hoarse, I’m not optimistic of change in system. Honestly, what is the system? A system is merely a reflection of the society. And when you have the chief minister of a state allegedly delaying a national carrier flight for his absent-minded secretary, what message does it send to the public?
Well, it won’t be fair to single out the CM, after all, he, too, is a part of the same society, a part of the same system. I’ll only end repeating the line, ‘First-class ticket doesn’t you buy class, but civility costs no penny’.
So, I rather choose to be civil and wait my turn.