While my keyboard is brusquely bearing the brunt of my anger, I’m furiously typing ’cause I need to vent.
This morning, I committed a huge crime. Something that made me bruise my hand ( I hit my hand on the wall, ’cause I couldn’t control my anger), something that made me feel utterly helpless and useless, something that made me undergo an hour and a half of panic, and fear and frustration. And, as a citizen of THIS nation, it’s my duty and responsibility to warn you – to help you not commit the crime I so ‘shamelessly’ committed. Wondering what that is?
Okay. Enough preamble. Some days ago, I had blogged about what lovely bus rides I get to have everyday here -> Every Chennai Citizen’s Dream Come True .
I have an even more enchanting experience to add to this. So, this morning, after my joy ride to Thoraipakkam, I got into a ladies’ special bus to Karapakkam (Bus No.95) The cost of a ticket from Thoraipakkam to Karapakkam, in a normal MTC ‘Green Board’ bus is Rs.6.00 for one. I searched my purse for an exact 6 rupees change but had just one 50 paise coin. This happens rarely, in my case. So I gave the conductor a 10 rupee note and asked him for a ticket to Karapakkam. The conductor asked me to provide exact change. Which I didn’t have. My bad. So he decided to give me a Rs.8 ticket instead of a Rs.6 ticket and 2 rupees change instead of 4 rupees change. Which he did, without asking me for options. Though he had lots of change on him. I obviously got furious. But I thought I would give him some time and planned to ask him to return me my change when I got down – I intended to give him some more time, to collect some more change so he wouldn’t crib. So when the bus was approaching my stop, I politely asked him for my change. Without a glint of shame in his eyes he jingled the coins on his palm and responded “As you don’t have any change, I gave you an 8 rupee ticket. I also don’t have any change, and I can’t do anything.” (Translated)
I kept persuading him, only to get the same response, phrased differently and more rudely. He had decided to not give me my change.
And the bus halted at my stop. I was getting late at work. I got down, a tad too furious – at myself, for letting the conductor wind me up, for being so incompetent and so useless, that I couldn’t drive him into giving me my change, when he had said he had given me an 8 rupees ticket only to compensate for balance my 2 rupees change. I felt scalded. On an impulse, I immediately dialled one of the MTC helpline numbers. And then realised how smart one has to be, to become a ‘government’ customer care official. He wouldn’t ‘reveal’ his name – as is apparently the code. But he politely jotted down my name, patiently listened to my rant and assured me he will try his best and ensure the conductor begins to return the change back to the passengers, instead of selling them more expensive tickets to save himself from returning change. Meanwhile an odd panic seized me out of nowhere – not entirely baseless for all the reasons you might think of. A few phone calls and umpteen WhatsApp messages got me back to my normal self. Yet, the hitch remained. To you, the reader, it might seem like a petty issue of 2 rupees, blown out of proportion. I believe it’s not about the amount, but about the attitude – which doesn’t seem to change at all, only worsen with time. What started with a complaint for a return of a due of 2 rupees cost me 5 times that, to realise there are things that ‘I’, alone, as a person can never change, in this country. Maybe a revolution can. Or cannot.
Que Sera Sera.
P.S. Thanks heaps, Maheedar and LakshmiKanthan – 2 of my favourite all-hour friends, for being there. It means the world to me, and beyond.