Cell-ing points

The TTE was nowhere to be seen and she was filled with misgivings.

A stray incident can well achieve what persuasion and argument cannot. From the time that the cell phone came into the market, I had resisted the well intentioned advice of buying one for myself.

An unnecessary gadget, an invitation to pointless conversation, more chores and more interruptions – these were the excuses I made. Wasn’t a landline good enough, was my question. The proverbial mule, I heard them grumble. Even my elderly mother could see its advantages. Was I older than she?

Then came the turning point. My granddaughter, Tara, came to Bangalore, in order to answer entrance exams. My daughter accompanied her. Their tickets to and fro had been booked online by her older daughter Soumya, in Vellore. A couple of days after they arrived in Bangalore, my daughter was asked to stay back for some official work, and her ticket had to be cancelled. This was done by Soumya at Vellore.

After Tara finished her exams, we drove her to the station and saw her off. She was given some money for incidental expenses. We were driving back when my daughter received a call on her cell phone. It was Tara on hers, telling us that her ticket had been pronounced invalid by the TTE. It had been cancelled, said he, and the seat given to another person.

In order to continue her journey, Tara would have to buy a ticket and, in addition, pay a fine. Since she did not have sufficient money, the TTE told her that she would have to disembark at the next station, quite a distance away from Bangalore.

With a confidence she did not really feel, my daughter told her not to worry. She then rang up Soumya at Vellore, who lost no time in contacting the railway authorities. They maintained that the tickets had both been cancelled and that nothing could be done. She then contacted the helpline, which assured her that Tara’s ticket was indeed valid. A mistake had been made when the chart had been drawn up. They would SMS the TTE and explain matters.The TTE was nowhere to be seen and Tara was filled with misgivings. Would she be asked to get off the train at an unfamiliar place? When would we be able to reach her?

She hoped and prayed that the TTE would not return. But he did; evidently he had received the SMS. He procured a seat for her and once again disappeared. Tara reached Vellore safely. A furious Soumya demanded an explanation and an apology from the authorities. This yielded nothing but stoic silence.

 My daughter and I however were filled with relief. Our minds too had fallen prey to all sorts of fears, but thankfully what had threatened to escalate into a very difficult situation had been sorted out and all because of a little device that I had considered nothing but a dispensable nuisance. I must admit that I eyed theone that my daughter held with a good deal of respect. Quietly and gratefully I admitted that the cell phone has its selling points.

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