Monday, January 31, 2005

Money Matters…No matter what…

After relocating to Bangalore for work, there were a lot of rough rides I had to encounter, the biggest problem was conveyance.

Residing approximately 12 kms from my office, the autos were not a lucrative option; the eventual source was the BMTC busses. These busses, ornamented with hydraulic doors were terribly out of frequency and do not operate to all destinations.

From HAL Post at Airport Road to the commissioner’s office in Infantry Road, it takes me 2 busses and 75 minutes to reach, courtesy ever increasing vehicle traffic and never increasing infrastructure.

So, I decided to bring my bike to Bangalore. Soon, Inquiries began; The ABT guys quoted Rs. 650/- for transportation and Rs. 150 for sundry expenses while the Great Indian Railways Charged a meager 130/-. Like any normal person, I chose the latter option. The (mis)adventure started there.

I had my tour from Chennai to Bangalore that Sunday and intended to take my bike along. I refreshed it and at 3pm I took it to the parcel section of Southern Railway, where I found the so called “Railways recognized agents” in their lungies (designer dhotis) previously sitting in a dirty corner approaching me. He began talking rules as to what I should do, and what he’ll do to get my work done, and of course what he’ll charge for this self proclaimed otherwise difficult service.

Being Sunday, rules say the owner must travel with the vehicle, and wanted my original tickets. I didn’t have them but had a hard-copy of the confirmation email sent by IRCTC while booking the tickets through the net. But it won’t do :(. Aiming to complete my work on that day, I told him I’ll be back with the tickets, in 3 hrs. I took the local to a suburb madipakkam around 20 kms from here. It was 7 pm when I returned.

Work started straight away. First work was packing; Just 2 old gunny bags, a torn cardboard and a little jute rope, these were my vehicle's unparallel armor. And it costs 100 bucks. Next, to get the tickets for my vehicle, with all necessary documents, the ticket fee Rs. 130/- and fee for the counter guy 20 bucks (it’s over the table so, I call it fee). Third, entry of my vehicle into the railway station, despite having my gate pass and RC book, I had to pay 50 bucks to the constable outside. Now the to/from and the train number must be written on the gunny bag covering my bike, cost for writing those three things, 10 bucks. All formalities done, the bike must be loaded on the train, cost for loading 20 bucks and for safe journey of my bike without scrapes 20 more bucks. All done, now for guiding me thru all these (well known) processes, the agent gets 150 bucks, They don’t want money free of cost you see. This totaled to a well rounded to 500 bucks (neat mathematics).

Uff it was 8:20 already, I went home, and came back fresh to board the train leaving at 9:45 PM. The horn blew and the train began to move. In it was a tired yet contented guy happy to take his vroomer to Bangalore. Next morning, 4:45AM, the train reached the Bangalore Majestic station (Majestic is a misnomer). Me and Bhavanesh went on to the luggage compartment. My bike was still in and a porter gets it down, his fee, 50 bucks. To avoid any more squander, I did few things myself. I went to the luggage office to get a gate pass, his fee 10 bucks. Now there is a guy who checks of the number in the gate pass is the same as on the bike, and he charges 10 more. We unwrapped the bike ourselves saving 50 bucks. The total expense that morning 70 bucks. We finally got our bike out in one piece. The total expense Rs. 570/- and 6 hours of running the corridors of the Chennai city and Bangalore station.

My trouble ended here, but I was shocked at another incident at that time. There were 3 more bikes along with mine, and one guy refused to pay money to the porter for alighting his bike. He was literally manhandled and abused in the filthiest language and the only other witness for the incident - an RPF constable.

God Save, NO Re-Format India!!!